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FIRST-PERSON: Don’t forget your associate members

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Many churches begin the new Sunday School year with a Promotion Day or Advancement Day. On that Sunday, children move “up” to a new class and meet new teachers.

Many of those teachers are also new to teaching Sunday School. Whether they are rookies or veterans, they have all made the choice to teach kids rather than attend an adult class. Unfortunately, many adult classes soon forget about those who would be class members were they not serving as teachers with preschoolers, children or students.

Here are a few ideas your class can use to make sure you honor these important “associate” members of your class.

— Visually celebrate your class’ “Missionaries to Kids.” Devote a wall, bulletin board, poster or even one of those tri-fold displays used for science projects to be a visual reminder of your associate members who are teaching kids. Put “Our Missionaries to Kids” across the top. Have someone go to the member’s “mission field” (the room where they are teaching) and take a digital photograph. Print it, and add it to the display.

— Call attention to the display every week and pray for one of your associate members. Here is how that might sound: “We’re glad to have some guests join us today for Bible study. You can see that we have a nice group of people in our class, but this isn’t all of us. Some of our class members serve as ‘missionaries to kids’ during Sunday School. Their names, photos and places of service are on the display. This morning, we are going to pray for Jim and Linda Schultz who serve in the two-year-old class. Jim and Linda have been married for 10 years and have twin girls, Sam and Kaley ….” Then ask Jim and Linda’s care group leaders to share specific prayer requests on their behalf.

— Assign associate members to your best care group leaders. Be sure that your “missionaries to kids” are assigned to group leaders who will care for them. You can divide associate members among care group leaders or assign one or more group leaders as associate member specialists. The basic job is to contact every group member, every week regardless of whether that member was present or absent in class. I recommend care groups be single gender, even in co-ed classes; men group leaders contact men and women group leaders contact women. Why? Because with “couples” care group leaders, typically (and unfortunately) the men don’t usually make or receive contacts. So, in the example case of Jim and Linda, Jim would be contacted weekly by his group leader and Linda by hers.

— Invite associate members to all class parties and functions. This is one of the most significant, but often overlooked, ways to keep your associate members connected with the class. During the function consider acknowledging associate members with an announcement such as, “We are so happy to have several of our ‘missionaries to kids’ with us tonight.”

Remember that some new members may have joined the class since your associate members departed for service, so be sure to provide everyone with name tags.

These tips are just a few of the ways you can help associate members stay connected to the adult Sunday School program during their season of teaching. Make certain they know they have your support, prayers and friendship while they serve.
David Francis is director of Sunday School at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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  • David Francis