Ideas for Impact
What kinds of churches can we become?
Recently in 2018, our Association helped with four teacher training sessions at one of our local churches. About 30 teachers attended the training. The information we talked about was not new - if you read a book about best teaching practices, the information would be very familiar.
What was different was that, in our training sessions, we allowed time to practice what we were recommending they do when they return to the classrooms where they teach.
Looking back on the last two years of working with our Association Missions Interns.
1. They were relational - they formed encouraging relationships with one another and enjoyed a little bit of competition and especially humor.
2. They were eager to learn and critique what they were learning - "does this fit with reality and with my experience?"
3. When they felt that their opinion was valued, they were willing to share and evaluate.
4. They were willing to study and teach what they were learning to others.
5. They memorized scripture and rose to the challenge.
6. They read a book about leadership and analyzed each chapter for application.
7. When there was an opportunity to serve, they jumped in to unfamiliar circumstances.
8. They read a Bible chapter and wrote discussion questions for a small group study.
9. They showed compassion for those who needed help.
10. They gave a weekend to volunteer for Disciple Now.
11. They went on mission trips and they lived a missional lifestyle.
12. They shared their salvation testimony and other stories of what they learned.
13. They welcomed a variety of commitments - school, work, church, friends, sports.
14. They expressed gratitude for a year of doing life together.
15. They did not see themselves becoming full-time workers at a church but they did see themselves as full-time Christians with a desire to serve others and be used by God
I've asked this question many times and usually get a similar answer. "Of all the things that helped you to grow spiritually the first few years you began to follow Christ, what were the top two?" The usual answers:
1. "A person who spent personal time with me to encourage, mentor and coach me. It was more than being in a class. It was a teacher, a youth pastor or some other friend who took time outside of a class to talk and listen."
2. "The times when I was actively involved. Instead of just sitting in a class and listening, I was involved in doing something - I served, I memorized, I read, I discussed, I served food at a homeless shelter, I built shelters in a third-world country, I visited a prison, I taught a children's class, I prayed for someone or I told my story of how God is working in me."
There are so many conferences, workshops, seminars, books and other training opportunities and they give so much information! Lots of great ideas! The challenge to me is ... can I condense the things I heard over several hours or days into a few things I can begin to do differently. In 2016 and 2017 our Association interns had the opportunity to lead a youth group Bible study for Middle and High School students at a local church for several months. We were interested - would the new ways of teaching the interns were learning be accepted and would it be more effective (as far as we could tell)?
1. Sit in a circle so we can see each other? - yes, interaction increased
2. Break the large group of 25 students into 4 smaller groups - yes, better participation
3. After the lecture part, have 6 or 8 discussion questions - yes, students liked it
4. Give every student the chance to share prayer requests and be prayed for - yes
5. Were new leaders attracted to come help? - yes
6. Did every student get a chance to read the scripture and make comments? - yes
7. Did students ask questions they were wondering about from the Bible? - yes
8. Did we get several people involved in creating discussion questions each week? yes
9. Were students stretched in their thinking, did they search to find answers? - yes
10. Did students and teachers say they liked discussion better than lecture? - yes
11. Did we involve more leaders and give them leadership training? - yes
Getting fresh ideas and new inspiration.
Most pastors I know read books and articles, attend workshops and join peer groups to challenge themselves with a steady stream of ideas for ministry. We ought to help the teachers in our church to do the same. Why not meet at least once a month with your small group leaders to brainstorm new ideas and let them share what they see God doing in their groups.
Every year, the Mid State Baptist Association offers three ways to encourage your teachers:
1. A once-a-year area-wide conference.
2. A workshop at your church custom-tailored to your needs.
3. An opportunity for coaching any teacher at your church individually. I can meet with any teacher once or several times, once a week, once a month or as often as desired.