Have you ever noticed the way Jesus cared for his disciples? It’s one of those things I love to notice in the Gospels! Jesus kept his disciples close at all times.
He called them. He taught them. He trained them. He rebuked them. He encouraged them. He commissioned them. He debriefs with them. He answers their questions. He challenges them. Even after his resurrection, he promised to never leave them. I think there is so much to learn from Jesus about caring for our Bible leaders, especially our SRE teachers.
SRE teachers are, generally speaking, more mature Christians—and I’m not talking about age! But even mature Christians are still disciples of Jesus in need of encouragement, training and support. Your SRE teachers may not be on your church’s staff team, but they are definitely on the same team, doing core ministry and so need regular pastoral support and care.
I think there are at least two levels of care your church should be offering your SRE team. One is from a church-wide perspective, the other is more personal.
Church-wide care for SRE teachers
Pray often for SRE, for the students and your teachers. If your church neglects to pray for this ministry from the front then it has the potential to fail to remain a core ministry of the church—which it is! If SRE is down the list of things your church prays for, take steps to move it up the prayer list.
SRE prayer breakfasts or annual dinners are a great way to thank supporters of SRE, hear updates from teachers, SRE students in your church, and to pray for the ministry. A once a term prayer breakfast could be a low-key way for your church to keep up with current news of SRE and pray for the ministry. These events are often organised by local churches who partner together to deliver SRE.
Give encouragement from the front. Speak openly—and often—about the ministry throughout the year. Weave it into sermons, interview teachers, share a testimony of someone impacted by SRE, or show Youthworks’ SRE impact video.
Commission your SRE teachers in your services at the start of the school year. Publicly honour them so others learn the value of this ministry and the value you place on your SRE teachers.
Do an annual ‘SRE Sunday’ service dedicated to supporting SRE. Use it to educate, train, recruit, encourage and pray for the ministry.
These kinds of things help SRE teachers feel valued, honoured and a sense of Godly pride.
But every SRE teacher is also an individual who is at a particular point in their walk with Christ, with their own issues and challenges in life, who also have their own unique class(es) they teach. To care for your SRE teachers well, you need to know them well.
Personalised care for SRE teacher and helpers
Doing planning and training together regularly, debriefing and offering feedback will help build your team and your relationship with your teachers. Try these activities to help keep personalised care for your SRE teachers and helpers a priority:
Have a planning day Help plan the term together as a team. Share dates you know SRE won’t be on due to school events. (You can find these dates in the school’s calendar on their website or in the school newsletter). If there’s a special Easter or Christmas assembly, or SRE seminars in the term, let your team know the dates. Suggest which lessons to leave out or combine based on the number of weeks they’ll actually be teaching. Allow plenty of time to share how they are travelling personally, and always add some training element, share resources, and pray together.
Hold pre-class briefing and/or post-class debriefing sessions Take the time to pray for each other and your students before or after class and ask some focused questions like, ‘What went well? What could we learn for next time?’
Do annual observations with your teachers Make the most of this opportunity to debrief with them and encourage them with specific feedback about the things they are doing well. Give tips for areas of their teaching they can strengthen with concrete examples. If you need extra support with giving your teachers feedback, ask your Youthworks SRE advisor.
Attend Youthworks' SRE Conference and development training as a team Yes, it’s a requirement of the role...It’s also a bit like exercise: sometimes it’s hard to get started on your own. So, grab a friend and by the end of your training session together you’ll be so glad you did it!
Prioritise one-to-one catch-ups with new or struggling teachers Respond to issues early or you may find you have a bigger problem to deal with, like having to find another SRE teacher! If there are particular issues at your school or within your SRE team you need advice on, you can always contact your Youthworks SRE advisor for support.
SRE teachers are part of your church’s core team of Bible teachers who are impacting the next generation for Christ. Let’s ensure their ministry is valued and they are well supported as disciple-making disciples.