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44 Ways to Expand the Teaching Ministry of Your Church [Secure eReader]
eBook by Lyle E. Schaller

eBook Category: Spiritual/Religion
eBook Description: Helps church leaders challenge the status quo, identify priorities, and implement change in educational ministries.

Schaller takes an approach contrary to that often recommended by educators. He shows how to identify the priorities for the Christian education program in any church. You will find helpful tips that explain how teaching is the second best way, after preaching, to attract new members; how the teaching ministry is the best way to reach young adults born after 1955; how teaching reinforces preaching and liturgy; how teaching activates the passive congregation; and how teaching is the least costly way to grow a church.

eBook Publisher: United Methodist Publishing House
Fictionwise Release Date: March 2002


Why should anyone be especially interested in expanding the teaching ministry of his or her church when nearly everyone agrees that the central focus should be on preaching and worship, when the most obvious pressing problem is the current financial crisis, and when many critics agree that the Sunday school is an anachronism carried over from the nineteenth century?

One answer begins with viewing every congregation as a passing parade. Every year several people drop out of that parade for one or more reasons. A few die. Others move away. A couple are disenchanted with the new pastor. A husband drops out following the death of his wife. One or two marry into another parish. In the smaller congregations those annual losses usually are equivalent to 3 to 5 percent of the reported membership. In larger churches the annual losses rise to 6 to 9 percent, and in the very large and rapidly growing churches, the turnover rate often runs between 10 and 25 percent year after year.

The teaching ministry often ranks second only to excellent preaching as a means of attracting new people to join that passing parade.

A second response is based on the assumption that, as the decades roll by, what once began as an exciting, attractive, and high-commitment new mission often evolves into a low-commitment church. If fewer than one-half of your resident confirmed members are present for the corporate worship of God on the average weekend, that probably means this is a low-commitment congregation. (Many observers will argue that if the proportion of resident members present for worship on the typical weekend is below 70 percent, that is a low-commitment church.)

A useful beginning point in a strategy to move from a low-commitment church is to expand the teaching ministry.

A third response is found in the date. This last decade of the twentieth century has presented most Protestant congregations with two choices. The highly visible choice is to welcome the generations born after 1955 and grow younger and larger. An expansion of the teaching ministry can be the most effective means of reaching, attracting, and serving new generations of younger members. The easier and more widely chosen alternative is to grow smaller in size as the members grow older together.

A fourth reason for expanding the teaching ministry is that it often is the easiest, least divisive, and least costly way to increase the range of choices offered to people who come from several generations and who represent a broad range of values, needs, and desires.

Fifth, as is pointed out repeatedly in this book, an expansion of the teaching ministry can be an effective means of reinforcing the ministry of Word and Sacrament.

Sixth, expanding the teaching ministry can be a highly effective strategy for activating the passive congregation -- and this leads to an explanation of the outline.

The most critical issue in expanding your teaching ministry is not techniques. The crucial variable is desire. Thus this book begins with a chapter on priorities. The key to expanding the teaching ministry is to make it the top priority! The second step is to agree on criteria for self-evaluation. A third is the unreserved support of the pastor. In many churches the congregational culture and/or polity are major barriers. Thus the first four chapters discuss these beginning points. The remaining eleven chapters focus on other policy questions, techniques, and fringe benefits.

Finally, two questions merit answers. The first is the request to point out how the contents fulfill the promise of the title. The answer is chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14, each suggesting one way to expand your teaching ministry. Those twelve plus the two on entry points and assimilation in the last chapter add up to fourteen. Add in the fifteen each in chapters 5 and 9 and the grand total is 44. Okay? If your count comes out with 45 or 53 or 71 or 117, be grateful. If it comes out at 37 or 43, please do not sue us!

The second and far more frequently asked question is "Why 44? Why not 42 or 47 or 45?"

Back in 1950 the Minneapolis Lakers defeated the Fort Wayne Pistons in a professional basketball game by a score of 19-18. The reaction to these and other low-scoring games was that a low score took excitement out of the game. The result was the adoption of the 24-second clock rule, which required the team with the ball to shoot for a basket within 24 seconds after gaining possession. Who decided on 24 seconds and why? Coach Biasone decided that in a truly competitive game, the two teams would take twice as many shots as they had been taking. In the typical game of that era the two teams were taking approximately 60 shots a game. Double that and divide 120 into 48 minutes, and the result came out 24 seconds. If Biasone had concluded that 100 shots made for a lively game, the result would have been a 29-second shot clock. If he had chosen 140, the result would have been a 20-second clock.

The moral is that you pick a number that sounds about right and that sets the pattern for years to come. A corollary is what you do today to expand the teaching ministry of your church will carry implications that will be felt a decade later.

Copyright © 1992 by Abingdon Press

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