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
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
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:
If you are interested in a live training event, see
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
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
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
- 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
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.
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!"