29 Time Crunchers for Sunday School Teachers


“Time is money.” We’ve all heard that. But time is a lot more than just money — it’s the most precious, non-recyclable commodity we have.

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For some teachers, time is something to control. There’s always too little of it, and these people are left dashing here and there, perpetually on the verge of panic, wondering when life will settle down, fearing it’ll never happen.

For other teachers, time is elusive. Their conundrum: how to harness time and best use it. How to keep time from controlling them.

Either way, don’t let time get away from you! These guidelines will help you get the most out of every minute — before, during, and after class.

Need to sharpen your organizational skills? Join Jim Wideman as he explains how to grow your ministry through effective administration. And, this isn’t just theory–this book is filled with practical advice from folks who have years of children’s ministry experience.

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The children all wandered in around 8. Some a few minutes early, and some as many as 10 minutes late. Not that it mattered.

Mr. Dierden was always late — and not just by a few minutes. He had some personal issues that kept him busy at the beginning of each class.

He’d been punctual at the start of the year but had quickly slipped. In his absence, the kids entertained themselves, occasionally glancing at the clock. Left to their own devices, the kids adopted a Lord of the Flies mentality. They separated into packs. The noise level rose.

Eventually, it was a free-for-all. Kids played Tag, took unescorted walks in the hall, upended desks, and raced around wielding scissors and pencils.

Before Class

Get organized. Block off 30 minutes every day over a period of weeks to get organized. Don’t try to do everything at once. Being organized is a habit — one you won’t adopt overnight. If you make it a process, it’ll become a habit. Trying to organize your entire life in one fell swoop is overwhelming, and it probably won’t work.

  • Buy inexpensive, clear plastic tubs in a variety of sizes for your classroom. Label them with a permanent marker according to what they hold: after-class games, craft supplies, glue, and other items commonly used (but normally scattered around the room).
  • De-clutter your area. Whether at home or in the classroom, do something with all the stuff sitting around. If it’s paperwork — toss it or file it. Inventory your books and magazines. Can some of them be donated?

Be prepared. Create a game plan. Prepare mentally and physically. Will you need sponge cut-outs for a craft? Prepare them at least one day beforehand. Is maintenance being done in your room? Make arrangements ahead of time to use another room. This may seem like common sense, but think back to the most recent thing that cost you time. Could it have been avoided with a little more preparation?

The same goes for your lesson. Are children supposed to grasp the impact of Jesus feeding the 5,000? How will you ensure they do? If you show up unprepared, without having given forethought to how you’ll achieve the end goal, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

  • Define your goals. From the smallest accomplishment to the grandest, write what you hope your teaching results will be. If you hope to change a child’s life, write it. If you hope to finish the book about leadership you started, write it. If you hope to arrive on time to all your Sunday school classes, write it. Putting your goals in writing gives them tangibility and keeps you focused. Keep your list of goals with you.
  • Make a to-do list. Keep it in your wallet or purse. Mark off the things you’ve accomplished, and reward yourself with a mental pat on the back (or ice cream).
  • Keep current. Take any available technology training for new systems and programs in your church.

Learn to say no and to delegate. Nobody wants to be the bad guy. But if you say yes to every request, you’ll quickly find yourself stretched to the breaking point. Time becomes your enemy, and stress and fatigue become regular companions. It’s okay to say no. If you say, “I’m already committed to so many projects that I wouldn’t be able to devote time or energy to this one,” people will understand and appreciate your honesty. If you agree to do a project when you’re already overloaded and do it halfheartedly, neither you nor the person you’re helping will feel good about it in the end.

  • Don’t be ruled by guilt. You have the opportunity to be very good at a few things or very mediocre at many things. Choose the few things that mean the most to you, and dedicate yourself to them.
  • Delegate tasks that don’t have to have your fingerprints on them. Can another person be responsible for making sure your newsletter is printed and mailed? What other projects can be handed off?

God put YOU in a position of leadership in children’s ministry for a purpose. Let Larry Shallenberger help you discover your personal leadership style so that you can maximize your strengths.

When Mr. Dierden finally showed up, he’d simply mutter, “Let’s take roll.” Was he blind? Did he not see that Jamie was about to put an eye out? Or that Karyn and Elise were missing? By the time Mr. Dierden took attendance, it was time to end with a prayer and try to put the room back together.

His actions sent a message to kids that they weren’t important, and that what they were supposed to be doing in class wasn’t important, either.

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About Author

Jennifer Hooks

Jennifer Hooks is managing editor for Children's Ministry Magazine and a contributing author to Sunday School That Works (Group).

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