Pastor's Blog: When the Teachers Leave the Room

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Sumter County High School was generally comprised of compliant students.  We pretty much did what our teachers expected of us, even when we may not have been in much of a mood to obey.  After all, our town was small enough that we were convinced that if we didn’t do as we were told, the word would get back to our parents before we did, and that never would be a good thing.

However, when the teacher left the room for whatever reason, something changed in us.  It was as if some evil spirit came into the classroom and took over, transforming us into little demons.  We would automatically put away whatever we had been assigned to do and allowed anarchy to run its course.  Looking back now, I have to say that those occasions don’t hold the fondest of memories for me and I doubt they do for any of my classmates.  We actually flourished with structure in our lives and learned so much more when there was someone present to guide us.

Maybe that’s how we humans are wired.  We learn best when there is someone to facilitate our knowledge.  Even as adults, it’s always a good thing when there’s someone who is present to walk alongside of us, guiding us toward insights that for whatever reasons we would not have discovered on our own.  That’s as much true in terms of our spiritual growth as it is in any other area of life.

I bring up this matter because of where we are at this point in the church year in our enlistment of teachers for our Sunday School ministry.  Given the primacy of Bible Study in our church’s religious educational ministry, Sunday School teachers are some of our most necessary volunteers.  I’d go far as to say that we wouldn’t be the church we are today without the commitment and dedication of this critical pool of workers.

As in most churches, the vast majority of our teachers agree to continue serving each year, an expression we should never fail to appreciate.  But as the years have gone by, things have changed for most of our classes, especially our adult classes, and the more sporadic attendance patterns in today’s church have created a need for more teachers than we’ve ever had to enlist.  In the old days, you could count on a teacher being in the classroom 48-50 Sundays out of the year (and you could count on other members being present almost that much as well!), but that’s not so any longer.  Most of our classes require multiple teachers, and many of them have done a superb job of enlisting such a teacher pool on their own.  But some classes need some help, and that’s why I’m making an appeal to you through this article. 

If you have ever thought about becoming a teacher, we have an opportunity for you to explore the possibilities even more.  This Sunday, August 13, at 4:00 PM, we have a special Teacher Training Event in Hudson Hall, where you are invited to hear Dr. Paul House, professor of Old Testament at Beeson Divinity School, share his thoughts about what makes for a good Bible Study experience and how we teachers might facilitate such an experience.   Dr. House is not only an Old Testament professor, he also is a Sunday School teacher at his own church, Briarwood Presbyterian Church.  My prayer is that along with our existing pool of teachers, we might have some curious souls present at this training event who also have felt the nudge of the Spirit in serving the cause of Christ in this most important way.

As you’ll remember, our Vision 2020 plan calls for such opportunities to help members discover and develop spiritual gifts that enable us to be a better church at “loving God and living with grace and generosity.”  One measure of every member’s spiritual growth is his or her willingness to utilize the spiritual gifts God has made available to help others in their own faith journeys. 

So, I invite you to give prayerful consideration to how God might use you to serve in this most important capacity.  If every one of our classes could develop a pool of teachers for its own group, then whenever one teacher had to be out, another one could step in and take his or her place.  Working toward such a goal would ensure that our church would be a more faithful fellowship with each of us showing greater obedience to what the Holy Spirit, our ever-present Teacher, leads us to do.

“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s Word all over again” (Hebrews 5:12).