Ready, Set, Teach!: Training and Supporting Volunteers in Christian Education


A Sunday school ministry can be full of challenges. Whether you are a pastor, a professional Christian educator, or a lay Christian education director, Sunday School presents you with a never-ending need to find the right people to teach, equip them to be the best teachers and leaders they can be, and keep them coming back from year to year.

Delia Halverson, the country's best hands-on expert in Christian education, knows these needs, and how to fill them. She knows that while ...

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Ready, Set, Teach!: Training and Supporting Volunteers in Christian Education

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A Sunday school ministry can be full of challenges. Whether you are a pastor, a professional Christian educator, or a lay Christian education director, Sunday School presents you with a never-ending need to find the right people to teach, equip them to be the best teachers and leaders they can be, and keep them coming back from year to year.

Delia Halverson, the country's best hands-on expert in Christian education, knows these needs, and how to fill them. She knows that while people volunteer in Christian education for a variety of reasons, the primary one is relationship with other leaders. She knows how to structure teacher training and equiping in the midst of today's busy lives. She knows how to recognize and encourage the individual talents volunteers bring with them to the Christian education setting. Most importantly, she knows how to share this wisdom and insight with you, so that your Sunday School and Christian education program can succeed in forming faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.

LetHalverson and Ready, Set, Teach! be your guide as you work within and for your Sunday School and Christian education ministries.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426709371
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Delia Halverson, a Christian education specialist, is a veteran classroom and workshop leader with more than 20 years' experience. She has written extensively in the area of religious education and is the author of 32 Ways to Become a Great Sunday School Teacher, How to Train Volunteer Teachers, Leading Adult Learners and My Cup Runneth Over... Devotions for Teachers. She is the author of over fifteen books and is well known for her articles and curriculum writing. She lives in Woodstock, Georgia.
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First Chapter

Ready, Set, Teach!

Training and Supporting Volunteers in Christian Education
By Delia Halverson

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2010 The United Methodist Publishing House
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4267-0937-1

Chapter One

The Church's Need for Teachers

Most people in the church do not realize that they actually teach others as they come in contact with them. We all teach in positive ways and in negative ways. We teach children and youth that they are important members of our faith community when we call them by name and recognize them as we meet on the church campus. However, when we ignore them or push them aside, we teach that they are not important to us, and they may wonder of their importance to God. We teach adults that they are welcome members of the faith community when we greet them and offer hospitality. But if we show no awareness of their interests or speak only with our friends, then we teach those adults that Christians are unwelcoming people. Members of adult and youth classes teach each other when they enter into discussions and share their thoughts about the faith. And children and youth teach us all as they invigorate us with their enthusiasm about life.

In Deuteronomy we read of God's command to pass on the faith (see 4:9-10; 6:1-9; 31:12). Through those who wrote the Bible, God has taught us how to live together in peace and how to offer our praises to this great God whom we worship and whom we know as a personal friend.

The early church saw the importance of teachers. In fact, Paul tells us that God has given each of us specific gifts.

A body is made up of many parts, and each of them has its own use. That's how it is with us. There are many of us, but we each are part of the body of Christ, as well as part of one another. God has also given each of us different gifts to use. If we can prophesy, we should do it according to the amount of faith we have. If we can serve others, we should serve. If we can teach, we should teach. If we can encourage others, we should encourage them. If we can give, we should be generous. If we are leaders, we should do our best. If we are good to others, we should do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:4-8 CEV)

Although knowledge of the Bible is central in our faith, teaching in the church was never meant to be simply head learning. You may know persons who can quote most of the familiar portions of the Bible and tell you just where the passages are found. But unless they put the Scripture into practice, they have not truly learned it. They have only memorized the words. In fact, a recent study by the Barna Group ( indicates that most people in the younger generations consider Christians actually "unchristian." These generations include the Mosaics (also known as Generation Y or Millennial Generation—born between 1984 and 2002) and the Busters (also known as Generation X or the 13th Generation—born between 1965 and 1983). Many persons in these generations feel that we use the Bible to browbeat people into living by our rules but really don't follow Christ's directions in our lives ourselves. The survey points out that the Mosaics and Busters rarely see Christians who truly embody the characteristics of Christ, such as service, compassion, humility, forgiveness, patience, kindness, peace, joy, goodness, and love (see David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons's book unchristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity ... and Why It Matters [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2007], 37, or

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, suggested that we should grow spiritually through reason, experience, tradition, and Scripture. This goes far beyond learning basic Bible verses. This spiritual growth comes about through immersion of our whole self into the meaning behind the Scriptures and making that meaning a part of our life experiences. (See Workshop 4: Wesley's Quadrilateral, on page 53.) Consequently, it is important to understand the various ways that we learn and to teach accordingly. (See Workshop 2: Ways of Learning, on page 45.)

Although today's adults seldom find time to volunteer as teachers, the need is even more urgent than before. We find adults coming to our churches who have little or no understanding of the Bible or of the Christian way of life. Parents are actually the primary teachers of our children, and if they have no understanding, then they certainly can't pass it on to their children.

Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)


In chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews, Paul reminds us of our faith heritage. Abram and Sarai left their home and traveled into an unknown land, on faith that God would make of their offspring a great nation. Their confidence teaches us of the one true God. After changing their names to Abraham and Sarah, God gave them a son, Isaac. Although Isaac's son Jacob tricked his brother and ran to his grandfather's previous homeland, he returned to ask forgiveness of Esau. Both Jacob's asking for and Esau's granting of forgiveness taught us of God's mercy. Jacob's son Joseph not only witnessed to his brothers who sold him into slavery but also lived as a witness of God in a foreign land. His leadership saved many people from starvation. Four hundred years later, God called a man, Moses, to lead the Israelites out of slavery. Moses had a speech impediment, but he witnessed of God's power to the ruler of the country and was able to follow his calling, leading his people to freedom.

There were also foreigners, such as Ruth and Rahab, who witnessed for God, even as they were learning of the faith. Paul spoke of the prophets and kings who taught the people about God. Some of them taught by proclaiming the faith and others taught through their mistakes, but they all witnessed to the faith. And the greatest witness of all was Christ, who lived the faith among us as a human.

Down through the ages others have witnessed to our faith, sometimes even to their death. Paul goes on to say,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 12:1)

It is this cloud of witnesses that volunteer teachers are called to join today. This is the exciting part of teaching! We share the faith that has been passed down through the ages. We share that understanding of one God who is awesome and magnificent, yet personal in every way—God who cared enough to come to earth and show us the way (see John 14:6).

Granted, teachers of young children cannot explain theology to their students because young children cannot grasp the abstract. But those teachers can be advocates of the faith, sharing their love for the students and guiding them as they develop the characteristics that make us Christlike. As our students grow older they will naturally have questions. They must think for themselves instead of simply accepting what others tell them. And that is where teaching youth and adults becomes exciting. At that point we teachers become clarifiers of the faith, encouraging our students to dig and explore the meanings of their faith for themselves. What excitement to experience the unfolding and the "Aha" times of these students! We can then feel truly blessed that God has called us to the ministry of teaching! (See Workshop 3: How Faith Develops, page 49.)


Excerpted from Ready, Set, Teach! by Delia Halverson Copyright © 2010 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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