Thursday, June 23, 2011


They say the secret to a business’ success is location, location, location. But there are also those who suggest, for the small or medium sized church, that in order to have someone present the lesson to children each week, the secret is rotation, rotation, rotation. In other words, get a bunch of volunteers, put them on the schedule to teach each week, and then no one person has to miss out on the “main service” all the time.

But as I stated in the introduction to this series, it is my humble opinion that such a weekly rotation is counterproductive to effective children’s ministry. I believe there are three reasons why this is true. Reason number one was Inconsistent Preparation. Reason number two was Inconsistent Presentation. Today, we present reason number three:


It’s Saturday night. You’re relaxing with your spouse when, suddenly, the phone rings. You exchange despairing glances with your spouse. The tone of the phone grows ominous. You pick up and manage a casual and cheerful, “Hello.” “Hi, it’s Burt,” the voice on the other end intones. “I really hate to do this to you,” he begins. Your shoulders sag. “But my wife reminded me of this commitment we have…and I really can’t get out of it, so I won’t be able to teach children’s church tomorrow.” You put your best smiley voice on, express sympathy for the conflict, and ensure Burt that everything will work out. When you hang up, your spouse’s eyes sum it up: “you’re not going to be able to come to the main service again, are you?”

A weekly rotation looks impressive on paper. And it can even look impressive in practice, as each individual or couple faithfully takes their turn at bat on their designated Sunday. But the reality is, not everyone is as consistent in their participation as the schedule would assume. People cancel their commitment, sometimes at the last minute, leaving their supervisor to scramble for a last minute substitute or even taking it on themselves.

There are many reasons why people cancel. Some are unavoidable, like illness or family emergencies. Some are perhaps avoidable, but certainly understandable, such as a change in vacation time or an unexpected opportunity for travel. But others leave us feeling very cold inside; such as the woman who calls and says, “I know I’m on the schedule to teach tomorrow, but we just found out last night that we’re going water skiing.” (yeah, I watched the weather forecast for Sunday…it’s a beautiful day). Or the teacher who called and said, “Tomorrow is my day, but we’ve got this reunion planned…it’s been in the works for three months now and I can’t cancel it.” (and you’re telling me this now?). And of course, there are those few who don’t call at all.

When someone who should be prepared to present a lesson is absent, it falls on someone who may not be prepared to bring the lesson. And when that happens, the expectation of consistency goes out the window. You may have a talented substitute who can bring a fairly decent lesson at the last minute. Or, you may have someone who is armed to the hilt with VeggieTale videos. There is nothing necessarily wrong with showing a last minute video in a pinch, but when the pinches become regular and frequent, the arm of our children’s ministry starts to show bruising.

By having a regular teacher (or teaching team) whose weekly responsibility is to bring the children’s church lesson, you cut down the frustration of the Saturday night phone calls and bring a consistency to the Sunday morning kid’s work. That’s not to say that the regular teacher won’t be sick or won’t have a day off, but by instilling a week by week consistency, a difference in participation becomes the exception and not the rule.

In our next (and final) installment of this series, I’m going to lay out some yays and nays regarding rotations and consistent teachers. In case you haven’t noticed, I am a strong proponent of consistency, but there are times in which a rotation may work (or may be the only option). We’ll look at a virtual potluck of principles in this last segment. And, as always, I welcome your comments, observations, suggestions, or experiences as we learn from one another and build each other up.

No comments:

Post a Comment