I read a book many years ago called Keys to Effective Motivation by Reginald M. McDonough. One of the keys he mentions is affirmation. In creating a climate of motivation, the author states it is essential for leaders to constantly affirm those around them, particularly those in responsible positions.
It is easy to overlook Sunday School leaders who faithfully serve week after week. Many churches have leaders who have served for decades, leading groups of preschoolers, kids, students, or adults. These leaders are appreciated for their ministry and faithfulness. Yet, they can often be neglected unless there is intentionality in recognizing and affirming their work. Here are three ways to do that:
1. Personally affirm leaders.
Look for reasons to affirm group leaders and acknowledge them personally. That affirmation might be with a phone call, hand-written note, or in person. Wondering who to affirm?
- Who had a new member in the group last Sunday?
- Who had visitors?
- Who faithfully teaches week after week?
- Who comes early to make sure the environment is ready for the group?
- Who does a good job in ministering to their group?
- Who provides opportunities for outside gatherings of fellowship?
- Who reaches out, inviting people to attend their group?
All of these are reasons for recognition and affirmation! Look around. There are dozens of reasons we can affirm our Bible study leaders.
2. Publicly affirm leaders.
No motivation key is more important than personal recognition from the ministry leader! But there are times when that recognition should go beyond the personal level to public recognition.
So when should the affirmation be public? Publicly acknowledge success and work when that recognition might be the motivational key for others to follow or emulate. For example, publicly acknowledge a Bible study leader who has started a new group. That action might be the encouragement needed for others to do likewise.
3. Provide for leaders.
One strong means of affirming Bible study leaders is providing all the resources they need to do the work. For Bible study leaders, they should be provided (minimally) a leaders guide, a Bible commentary, optional teaching plans, and a teaching pack.
Over the past years, some churches have chosen to cut back on providing resources for their Sunday School leaders. Think about that. If there is one area a church should not cut back, it is here! Cut back on some activities. Reduce utility costs. Enlist volunteers instead of paying for services. But don’t cut back on providing the resources needed for Bible study leaders! Providing the resources proves the importance and priority of the Bible study ministry.
Bruce Raley has served as Director of Church Education Ministry with Lifeway Christian Resources since May 2006. A native of Arkansas, he enjoys hunting, fishing, and traveling with Donna.