As we checked in with our children’s worship leaders after church we went into the room where the youngest children, the three-year-olds, meet together. We saw Chloe, a sweet little girl who was in the room with her mom and her dad and her little sister. “Did you have your mom as a teacher in children’s worship today?” we asked. Chloe nodded with a big smile. Then she said, “She did it wrong.”
Chloe’s mom is not one of our usual worship leaders in that room. We try to give our regular leaders a break in the summer by asking others to do one or two Sundays in the children’s worship rooms. This gives them a chance to experience what goes on in the rooms and it is like advertising for us — once people do it they often realize how much they like it and they are willing to sign up for a regular slot. We don’t expect our summer leaders to have the experience or the training to do what our regular leaders do — we’re pleased to be able to offer a program for the children and the parents in the summer.
We explained to Chloe’s mom that I had had the same experience a couple of years ago when one of our first graders came out of the room I was subbing in and explained to her grandmother, in great detail, all of the places where I had messed up that morning. This particular girl was pretty careful, even as a first grader, to get things done right so we really enjoyed hearing that story from grandma.
These two instances remind me of one of my Sunday School teachers when I was growing up. Mr. B. was not a particularly good teacher. Looking back now after years of being a teacher, I can see that we didn’t actually learn a lot of content from Mr. B. I also know that some of my classmates got away with some misbehavior in his class. I didn’t, of course, because I was a good kid. At least that’s the story I’m sticking to.
Mr. B. was my teacher for a couple of years — at least it seems that way to me now. I really don’t know how long he was my Sunday School teacher. I do know that he is the only person who ever pronounced my name like it was French — “Ro–bear” — and he did that all the time. I know that he cared about me a lot because he talked to me almost every week at church. That’s why I’m not sure how many years he was my teacher — he continued to talk to me and care about me after I was no longer in his class. Mr. B. was a special teacher to me even though he wasn’t a great instructor. Despite his technical failings I learned a lot from him.
We want to do the best job we can as teachers. We want to think carefully about our lessons and about how we teach. We also want to do the very best job we can in picking curriculum for our classes, with lessons that teach the content of the Bible in a way that introduces our kids to who God is. The most important first step in being a great Sunday School teacher, though, is showing up. Showing up and caring for the kids in your classroom is a big part of what it takes. If you love the kids, talk to them, and take a genuine interest in their lives you will have an impact. Even if you do it wrong.