Qualifications for teachers (SS and children's ministries)

I have had this article and thread on my mind ever since it was posted.

To everyone:

  • What qualifications do you think are necessary for teachers- Sunday School, children’s ministries, and youth group?
  • Does your church accept volunteers or do you appoint teachers, and is there a vetting process of some kind?
  • Does your church leadership look into their ‘private’ lives at all (background checks, references, spiritual maturity/character)?
  • Do you think that children’s ministries are a good ‘training ground’ for novices?

I’ve got to admit that this topic has bothered me for years, but when something is SOP, you learn to accept it.

“That’s the way we do it, furthermore, that’s the way we’ve always done it”.~ Harold Leake

But Bro. Ham’s message brought it back to the surface again, and I’d really like to see this issue thoroughly addressed- if for no other reason than my own sanity. :)

To pastors: If a church member came to you about the qualifications or character of a teacher in your church, how would you handle it? On what basis would you take action?

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dmicah's picture

our goal on the biblical side of qualifications is to find workers that meet the qualifications of deacons. we don't make everyone deacons, but we are still looking for that blameless lifestyle that is willing to serve. we try to reach out to individuals who feel led and gifted to serve with children/young people and those who can teach (we don't do s.s.), who have some educational background, or who willingly like to chaperone and enjoy being around children. we semi-apply the same biblical standards for elders to our small group leaders,or anyone who handles the Word, though again we don't make them elders.

there is some vetting. they all go through an application process. we do background checks, interviews, we do look for references of spiritual character and maturity inside and outside of our church. it is of upmost necessity because no matter the ministry, you are entrusting sheep into others' care. therefore the elders are responsible.

as to the 4th question, the way we look it, is that any ministry is kind of a training ground for maturity, consistency in service and demonstrable love for others. for instance, if someone comes to our church with 20 years of ministry experience, we still want them to get involved in a deacon like ministry to observe their life before they are given roles of leadership or authority. for example, we have a number of 50+ year old former elders/deacons in local churches. however, they didn't really build credibility until they began to actively participate in our service teams. so now we are putting them on short lists to be official leaders in the body.

if people come with concerns about a teacher/leader, if we already know of the issue then we add it to the data and take action. if it is new, depending on the nature, then the person needs to biblically confront the teacher/leader they have an issue with and move from there. i believe this is a case by case situation because of all the unknowns.

at our church we try to take immediate action and have direct contact with those who have issues (i.e attitude) or sin in their lives. we'll pull them off a ministry team very quickly if they are not in the spiritual place to be involved. again, this is discretionary and why a plurality of elders working toward cooperative discernment helps.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Quote:
any ministry is kind of a training ground for maturity, consistency in service and demonstrable love for others

I agree with this- but when I say training, I mean someone with little or no teaching experience, and no ministry experience- a sort of 'learning on the job' situation. My idea of 'learning on the job' is for someone inexperienced to work under and with someone who has experience- IOW, a mentor. When they demonstrate competence and consistency, then they would have a class or ministry leadership position.

A common (in my experience) example of this is young men straight out of Bible college with no ministry experience being given a youth group to 'cut their ministerial teeth' on. And when it is a single young man- oy vey. http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-angry035.gif[/img ]

rogercarlson's picture

Susan,

I agree with you. However, one thing to remember is that just because someone is young and straight out of school does not necessarily mean that they are a novice. For instance, my own situation. I became a youth pastor at age 23. I was one year out of college. But, the Lord had allowed me to teach sunday school since i was 15. I had been an assistant at a church in Greenville area for 2 years, and the year I was out of school, I was a lay youth leader at in charge of Jr High at my home church. Many men I went to school with were not that different. But in principle, I think you are correct as long as we don't assume someone is a novice soley because of his age. Smile

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

rogercarlson wrote:
Susan,

I agree with you. However, one thing to remember is that just because someone is young and straight out of school does not necessarily mean that they are a novice. For instance, my own situation. I became a youth pastor at age 23. I was one year out of college. But, the Lord had allowed me to teach sunday school since i was 15. I had been an assistant at a church in Greenville area for 2 years, and the year I was out of school, I was a lay youth leader at in charge of Jr High at my home church. Many men I went to school with were not that different. But in principle, I think you are correct as long as we don't assume someone is a novice soley because of his age. Smile


You are right, Roger- age does not equal or negate competency. I did stipulate that I was speaking of those with little or no experience. I also started teaching and tutoring when I was in high school, but I would not have been opposed to having a mentor oversee my dh and I and give us a 'stamp of approval' as we stepped into responsibilities such as assistant pastor, Sunday School superintendent, Patch leader, youth pastor.... as it was, even with our years of experience, there were some weak areas in our lives that led to our near destruction. A more involved leadership or mentoring relationship might have allowed those weaknesses to be spotted in time before great damage was done.

dmicah's picture

yes, a quality mentor or class coordinator should be in place. a mistake in delegation is to find a warm body to fill a role and then leave them alone. True delegation is replicating yourself so to speak by passing along training, education and eventually responsibility to someone who can conduct themselves adequately.

We have a lot of students who work in our kids' programs, but they are not the teachers. Lord willing, they will become quality teachers, but for now they are to watch and learn and chaperone.

totally agree that throwing some young person out of college into a student ministry to cut their teeth is shortsighted. we can put them in place, but there should be a lot of pastoral oversight and mature volunteers to help.

overall answer is that we'll take the inexperienced and work with them. however, most of our folk who aspire to working as teachers or kids' ministry leaders have some level of experience they have picked up along the way. our men who wish to teach or grow in leadership are put into a basic training program, similar to internships, and taught the basics of doctrine, homiletics and general leadership.