RECRUIT THE BEST TEACHERS
BY HAROLD J. WESTING
A Sunday School superintendent is standing in the halls of the church on Sunday morning with a Junior teacher’s manual in his hand. Tom Hardy approaches with his children in arm. The superintendent thinks in a flash–sure, he could handle those boys!
“Say, Tom, we need you to teach a Junior boys class. I know you can do a great job of guiding that class. They really need you. How about it–would you please help us out?”
That situation, in varying degrees of intensity, might be repeated in the hallways of numerous churches on any given Sunday during the year.
Most superintendents quickly state that their most pressing problem is the recruitment of staff. Add to that the always pressing need of getting all the permanent staff to perform at a higher rate of efficiency, and many superintendents finally give up in utter frustration. “There just aren’t enough qualified people to cover all of the classes,” they say.
Without a doubt, the staff is the most vital ingredient in an effective life-building Sunday School. The curriculum, facilities, program and grouping of classes all play a significant role in operating that desirable school, but none reach the degree of importance the staff plays in the efficiency of the school
We place a great deal of emphasis–and rightly so–on making sure that our curriculum follows Biblical guidelines. But we often forget that Christ has laid forth some very distinct guidelines for the recruitment of workers.
A study of the Gospel passages where Christ called and trained His disciples will show us those principles, which we must emulate if we are going to aid in building the church of Christ.
Christ’s Way of Recruitment
1. Pray for workers.
We read in Luke 6:12 and 13 that Christ spent the entire night in prayer prior to calling His disciples to follow Him. Although we’re not told the content of that prayer, it is logical to assume that it directly related to His call to His disciples. He did not pray just to leave us a model He prayed because of His humanness and His urgent need to be ready to approach the men of His Father’s choosing. His plea to the Father for men to do the work of the ministry was rewarded by the willing response of the twelve.
The Lord instructs us to do the same. “Pray ye the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth labourers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2). If Jesus sensed a need for a night of prayer and a preparedness of His own heart to make the proper approach, then how can we do leas?
The whole church must pray for the choice of God’s special servants. Let’s not be advertising in the bulletin or during announcement time for workers, but let’s ask the congregation to call upon the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest.
2. Approach a prospect individually.
Jesus approached each disciple individually, asking him to respond to the call of the Lord upon his life. In Matthew 9:9 we see Christ going to Matthew’s place of employment and personally calling him.
When I sit in the congregation and hear or read about a general plea for workers, it says to me that the task to be accomplished is really not too significant, and perhaps anyone can get the job done. Our approach ought to be made personally and in private where the urgency and importance of the task is clearly laid out before the prospective worker.
3. Magnify the office.
These disciples had been watching the lifestyle of the Lord and could readily see the urgency of the task, which was His mission. When He called them to come and follow Him and aid in calling men to repentance, they knew how important that really was because they saw the price He already was paying. To emphasize the importance of the task of Peter, He told him that He was going to change him. That change was going to be so significant that it would mean a name change (John 1:42).
“Why don’t you get someone else to do it; you know anyone can do this.” The person who talks like this is only saying that he wants to be engaged in something so important that only he can accomplish it. In a sense, Christ was saying that to chosen workers. This is so important, that if you don’t help, it won’t get done. I want to give my life to something that is so important that it is worth my whole life. I wonder, do people sense that when you call them to come and join you in your mission?
The image of the importance of working in your church is an image that is built both by the recruiter and by the status the workers have in the church. That image comes by the way you approach them. If it is flippantly done, then an image of insignificance is built into their thought pattern. But when workers are praised and prayed for in your church, it aids in building an image of the importance of the task.
4. Clarify what the mission entails.
“Come and follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Those men knew that following meant sacrifice and obedience to the commands, statutes and judgments of the Father. They had seen Jesus plead with the souls of men and had come to see how much more important it was to fish for men than for fish to feed the body.
Could you hear Christ saying, “I know you have a lot to do, and so I know that you can’t give yourself totally to the task of fishing for men, but just give me what you can and we will let the other go”? Then, only after they had responded to the call, would He gradually “spring on them” that they would have to do some visiting on their prospective Christians, and every once in a while they would have to come and receive some more training from Him.
It wouldn’t take them too long before they would become disillusioned with their leader.
When people are called to serve, they want to know exactly what is to be expected of them. As they give prayerful consideration to the acceptance or rejection of the job, they want to know what lies ahead of them and that they will be led into a measure of success. This will be another way to convey the importance of the task, which is theirs to do.
A call to service will provide a written guide or measure to help maintain conformity in the operation of the Christian education program. It should include such items as a worker’s responsibility in such matters as regularity, efficiency, cooperation, lines of authority and concern for the lives of the student and the image of the church My own personal conviction is that it ought to, as welt include the date of the call to service and its termination. This will enable you to reevaluate their work and to recall them to that particular work or to place them elsewhere. It will also enable them to withdraw or choose another place of service in your Christian education program.
5. Show them how they can do it.
It is obvious in Christ’s dealing with the twelve that He clarified what they were to do and how they would accomplish it. In Luke 10 we see a list of instructions for one mission He sent them on which includes what they were to say and what they were to carry on the trip. They were to come back and report all that they had accomplished or conflicts they had encountered. The Lord recognized how difficult it was for people to transfer concepts into each actual situation, so He wanted them to see Him model various times and ways the actual outworking of these principles might take place, as recorded in Luke 8:17-21.
The Lord didn’t call people to be His disciples without giving them guidance. Neither should we expect people to serve Christ and His church without giving them guidance. To ask someone to come and serve without giving him adequate guidance might in a sense be asking him to come and fail–and frankly, I don’t know who can hen” die that kind of trauma.
Notice that the instruction from Jesus came in various doses, intermingled with their actual service. They were not fully prepared to serve, and yet He sent them out. A contemporary study of how people learn the skills of teaching points to the fact that 1) Teaching skills are best l learned when the teaching is related to experience with the students in the classroom situation. 2) They must have the opportunity to observe some kind of modeled techniques so they can sense a success. 3) Part of that process must include as welt a way to analyze and discuss what has transpired in demonstration and practice sessions. When teachers have that sense of success, they will not be so quick to lay down their tools.
Christ did not choose those key church builders because they stood out in the crowd as the most talented, trained, and because they possessed the highest IQ’s. He chose them because He saw potential in them. That potential was most likely an open want-to learn type of attitude. I’ll learn even though it may hurt my pride or counter my willingness to suffer pain or hardship. Let us not minimize obvious skills and ability in prospective workers, but let us be quick to see a humble ready-to-learn attitude.
Of course, that ready-to-learn attitude was not disappointed or thwarted. Christ provided instruction and guidance, which aided them in personal fulfillment and the ability to meet others’ needs.
We must do the same. There must be periodic sessions with them to review successes and struggles in their ministries. Also, encouragement, appreciation, and a strong supportive relationship in prayer will go a long way to strengthen and enrich the ministry of teachers and workers.
Furthermore, it is important to constantly place in their hands specific reading assignments, which will aid in the psychology of the teaching/learning process and the skills of leadership. There are unlimited numbers of sources of valuable instruction which come in all sorts of packages. You don’t have any excuse to be without an ongoing education for all the staff. There are many cassettes, self-guided training sessions, correspondence courses, community leadership training sessions, and a steadily increasing supply of excellent books. Since there are so few staff who are self-motivated enough to become involved, there needs to be a reminder and even an accountability factor to see that there is constant ongoing learning for all the staff. When people are aware of that kind of supportive relationship, it is amazing how ready they are to join the team.
How We Should Recruit Workers
1. Appeal to the right motivation.
Recently I asked an adult teacher how long he had been teaching his class. He responded with, “The former teacher conned me into teaching about two months ago. I don’t know how long I’ll be teaching.” My guess was that it wouldn’t be long.
“You mean God didn’t call you to teach this class?” was my quick response. “No, but I hope that some time in the future He will.” It was obvious to me that he, like so many church workers, simply responded out of moral obligation. The sense of the call of God upon a servant’s life is going to be a lot more lasting than a simple fulfillment to a moral obligation. That seems to wear thin after a short time
A recruiter for Christ’s church must be very careful not to ask for a commitment, but simply ask for the prospective worker to struggle in prayer over the matter and then let him know how he has settled the matter with the Lord. It seemed to be a significant factor in the stability of Paul’s ministry. His right and motivation to be ministering to people was the call of God upon his life. There was that compulsion which countered his constant tug to laziness and lack of vision. Make sure that when people come to take a responsibility of ministry in your church the call of God is upon their lives. Here we need to be reminded once again that Christ spent time in prayer before He called men to serve. It seems that this is where the call of God emanates.
When we follow the style of leadership recruitment and training plans that Christ used, then we will not only be equipping our staff, but we will be building godly and effective lives, which of course is much greater. There is no shortcut program, which will enable us to make up for our failure to train leaders over the past years. Unless we start now to follow His example, we will continue to face the same handicaps in an inadequate staff, or an insufficient one. Christ has given us a model to follow. Dare we try to recruit and train staff in any other way?
2. Develop a system.
As your church continues to grow, it will be difficult to know which persons would be best to approach as prospective workers. I found it very helpful to develop a human resource file to aid me in that task. You will find at the end of the chapter a sample of such a form to aid you in the process.
It is very important to ask either a winsome couple or a small personnel committee to develop and maintain such a file. John Peters and his family transfer their membership into your church. They had served the Lord faithfully and effectively in a neighboring state. It wasn’t long before all the leadership in your church was eyeing them over as prospective workers for their program or department. Of course, the early bird with the Madison Avenue salesmanship ability got the worm, even if the early bird wasn’t the one with the most pressing need. They went to work in the Boys Club. Six other leaders approached them about working in their program too. There was little consideration given about where their services and gifts could best be utilized.
Another couple like the Peters came, they were turned off by five different leaders pressuring them to come to work with them, so they left for another church.
When the Personnel Committee or couple handles the recruitment, those two problems are overcome. All the recruitment is handled through them. No one approaches the Peters about working until they are cleared to do so through the Committee. The Committee doesn’t necessarily make all the contacts directly but through the screening process they find out where the prospects best seem to fit and then their name is given to the Departmental Superintendent or another leader to make the contact.
If Charles Jones needs a teacher for the 7th grade boys class, he asks the Committee for someone to approach for the job. The Committee goes to the file and finds a person or two who seemingly might best fit that place of service. The Committee keeps records of other contacts Charles Jones has had along with his qualifications and gifts for service. If the Committee has the time, they may do the actual recruiting for Superintendent Jones.
It takes some serious effort to build the file. Let me suggest how I succeeded in doing so. I started by going to each adult Sunday School class and asking them to complete the form. Of course, this was done after they were given the materials for doing so. The classes were approached three successive weeks to make sure all the class members were contacted.
As those cards were filed, their names were marked off the church master roll. Those who still hadn’t completed a form were sent one in the mail with an accompanying cover letter asking them to return it to the church within two weeks. Phone calls were made to those who had not done so in three weeks.
As new members came either as transfers or as new believers, they were called upon by the Personnel Committee who talked with them about how they could utilize their spiritual gifts in their new church home.
We chose to color code our file with small metal clips indicating which various areas of service they had either served in the past or where they might like to serve in the future. This also became a great way to find people for future teachers training classes.
I found that one of the greatest side benefits of this procedure was breaking away from the same small group of people doing all the work in the church. We greatly expanded the force of service in our church by helping the whole church family get involved in serving the body of Christ according to I Peter 4:10: “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY ACCENT-B/P PULICATIONS, INC., 1980, PAGES 83-94. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.