Here in Colombia we have always worked hard to train people to do every ministry in the church. Sunday school is an important ministry and one of the most important responsibilities of any church is to assure quality teachers to help prepare the children who will be the Church of tomorrow. Each year in Colombia we try to offer training for our Sunday school teachers. We use our best and most experienced teachers to do a most of the teaching. We want to help the newer teachers with their problems and difficulties and we want to continually be training up more teachers so that we avoid burnout and in order to replace teachers who may move and simply feel they are too old or can no longer do the job for whatever reason.
This past weekend I traveled to Villavicencio with Gordon Clifford of Christian Mission Press for our Sunday school teacher’s clinic. We held this event at our one acre church camp outside of Villavicencio. There were seven of us teaching and we had about twenty four aspiring teachers in attendance. We all arrived Friday evening, held our first session and had a devotional. Then it was off to bed so we could be up early and make the most of Saturday. All day Saturday we held sessions that dealt with the theory and practice of teaching and we talked about how teaching in Sunday school was similar to and yet very different from teaching in a public school setting.
My specific session was on “teaching to transform lives” where I focused on how to make our teaching successful in changing the lives of the students and on how to avoid simply teaching Bibles stories as mere facts or curiosities. I based my teaching on the philosophy of education and specifically on Christian education. We made a case for the importance of teaching our children well and in seeing teaching as a very important ministry in the church. We also had sessions on how to deal with classroom discipline, order and on how to make the classes both fun and interesting for the children.
Our sessions ran all day Saturday from six in the morning till nine in the evening with only a few short breaks for meals and coffee. It was a long and tiring day but everyone wanted to make the most of the time we had. Sunday morning we were up early and held one last session. Then it was time for breakfast and we were off to town to attend church there in Villavicencio and have our “graduation” ceremony, where we tried to infect the whole church with the excitement we all felt for teaching our children. The thrill of this ministry was evident in the testimonies of those who attended. Without a doubt we now have a new group of better trained young teachers and of new candidates for this important ministry. Everyone felt it was a great experience and that it will be very helpful for all who attended.