Time Management for Teachers

 

It is possible to double a class every two years or less. I have 

heard testimonies of hundreds of teachers who have doubled. (See http://www.joshhuntnm.blogspot.com/ )

It is possible, but it is not easy. It is hard work, and it takes  time. In order to double a class every two years or less, we must  learn to manage time well. The good news is, this skill of managing  time will help us in every area of life. Here is the magic: we work  on doubling the class, and God works on us, making us to be the kind  of people He wants us to be. One of the qualities of being the  people He wants us to be is people who manage their time well.

Most of what I have read about time management is wrong. Or, at  least, it didn’t work for me.

Most time management courses will tell you to do this:

1. Make a list of things that have to be done

2. Sort them in the order of their priority

3. Start working on item #1

4. Don’t stop working on #1 until #1 is completed

5. When you finish with #1, go to #2 and so on through  the list.

Logical. Well meaning. And it never worked for me.

Here is my method:

Make a list of things that need to be done

Lets apply this to Sunday School Teachers. Let's assume you want  to double your class every two years or less, and you want to do it  by inviting every member and every prospect to every fellowship  every month. Here is a partial list of things you would need to do  to accomplish this

1. Lesson preparation. You don't have to  be Chuck Swindoll, but the teaching does have to be half way  decent each and every week, nothing less will do. It takes  time to prepare an interesting, life-changing lesson each  and every week.

2. Plan monthly party. All good ideas  degenerate into work. Someone has to buy the Diet Coke.  Someone has to put up the decoration. Someone has to cook  the food. It is hard work having fun. If you have not gotten  into the business of inviting every member and every  prospect to every fellowship every month, let me give you a  heads up: it is work.

3. Invite every member. Most class rolls  could be divided into three sections: top third that come  all the time; middle third that come every now and then;  bottom third that never come. Here is my advice with  reference to that bottom third: don't invite them to class.  Instead, invite them to the party. Have a party once a month  and make sure that every member and every prospect gets  invited every month.

4. Invite every prospect. I have gotten  this feedback from some: We had a party, but we couldn't get  any outsiders to come. "Tell me about how you invite them."  "We announced it three times in class." That won't do. We  have to invite every member and every prospect to every  fellowship every month. Calling is better than emailing,  although, in an ideal world we do both. This may take the better part of an  evening to do. The people who are best at it tend to be a  bit chatty. They don' just invite people to the party in a  down-to-earth kind of way. They chat.

5. Training. There is a proven  relationship between training and church growth. Churches  that train tend to grow. Churches that don't train tend not  to grow. If you want to double your class in two years or  less, you need to make an ongoing commitment to being  trained to do so. My best deal on training is the Big  Double Bundle. See http://www.joshhunt.com/bundle.htm  for details. My  newest training piece is the Saturday Morning Training. It  covers more or less the same territory but is designed to be  used in a one time shot Saturday morning rather than on a  weekly class basis. For details, click here: hhttp://www.joshhunt.com/sat.htm

If you are interested in a live training event, see www.joshhunt.com/conference2.htm

6. Spend personal time with your students.  People don't care what you know till they know that you  care. If you would make disciples of them, you must love  them. You must spend time with them. Take them to lunch.  Play golf with them. Jesus made disciples by spending time  with them. You must spend time with your students if you  wish to make disciples of them. I think it is unfortunate  that you are called a teacher. Since you are called a  teacher, you might get the idea that your job is to teach.  That is one job, but it is not the only job. Your job is to  pastor the microcosm of the Church called your Sunday School  class.

7. Devotional time.  Disciples  start their day with the Bible on their lap. They start the  day with God. The quiet time is the core discipline in  following Christ. Effective teachers spend time alone with  God in the Word and in prayer--not looking at the Word for  what we can teach to others, but looking at the Word in  allowing God to feed our souls.

8. Crises ministry. In every life some  storms will come. If you see yourself as the pastor of your  micro-church, it means visiting the hospital when your  members are in the hospital. It means preparing meals when  there is a death in the family. It means being there. Loving  people means being with them in times of crises. The bigger  the class, the more crises there are.

Delegate what you can

There is no greater waste of time than doing efficiently what you  should have never done in the first place. About half the things on  the list above can and should be done by someone else. As Bill  Hybels says it, "What a wonderful plan God has! Let the teachers  teach, let the leaders lead, let the mercy givers give mercy, let  the inreach leaders invite every member, let the outreach leaders  invite every prospect, let the party people plan parties." (I  actually added that last part, but the first part is from Bill  Hybels.)

In the church, we don't delegate to get out of doing things. We  delegate to get lots of people involved in the work. We want every  one to discover their gifting and use their gifts to grow their  groups. Every groups would do well to have the following people  involved:

  • Teacher in training. This is the person to who  you will eventually say, "The things you have heard me say in the  presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who will be  qualified to teach others." 2 Timothy 2.2 It is a good idea to let  them substitute for you from time to time. Here is a time saver: let  them teach once a month.
  • Fellowship leaders. More often than not, these  are ladies. I have found that, as a general rule, ladies are more  fun than men.
  • Inreach leaders invite every member. It is a  good idea if they also keep roll in the class so they keep a real  personal, hands-on feel for who is there and who is not.
  • Outreach leaders invite every prospect.
  • Prayer leaders take prayer requests and  distribute by way of email the prayer needs of the group.
  • Leader. This person doesn't actually do any  real work. They just delegate and supervise and coordinate and  oversee. They realize it is work getting other people to work.

One of the best ways to get these workers is to have a Vision Day  once a quarter. Get in the habit. Make it part of the church  culture. Put it on auto-pilot. The first Sunday of every quarter is  Vision Day.

On Vision Day you recast a vision for the class: we want to  double every two years or less. A group of ten that doubles every  eighteen months will reach 1000 people in ten years. In order to do  that, we want to invite every member and every prospect to every  fellowship every month. So we want to do three parties in the next  three months. Who wants to do what? Who wants to do inreach? Who  wants to do outreach? Who is good at planning parties?

Do whatever you feel like doing

Basic time management theory suggests you do things in the order  of their priority. Here is the problem with that. Often, when I look  at my to-do list, it all needs to be done. It is all #1 priority in  the sense that it all has to be done. And I find I work best when I  do what I feel like doing.

Of course, you can't always do this. Some tasks are not that  pleasant and must be done anyway. In this case, you do well to do  them first and get them out of the way.

Here is the real key to me. I can divide most tasks on a to-do  list into two categories: thinking and doing. Lesson writing is  thinking; calling prospects is doing.

I tend to find myself in one of two moods: thinking and doing. If  I am not in a thinking mood, I am not terribly productive at lesson  writing. I try not to do doing tasks when I am in a thinking mood or  thinking tasks when I am in a doing mood. As much as possible, I try  to do what I feel like doing. I find I am more productive that way,  and life is a whole lot more fun.

Closing Thought

Show me, O Lord, my life's end

and the number of my days;

let me know how fleeting is my life. Psalm 39:4 [NIV]

Is it my imagination, or is each year going a little more quickly  than the last? We don't have forever. As the old hymn said it,  "Work, for the night is coming!"