It’s Sunday morning and your third grade Bible class teacher wakes up with a stomach virus. She obviously can’t teach and it’s only a couple of hours at most before class begins. What happens next in your congregation? For many of you, what follows is a flurry of phone calls, begging and trips to a copier machine. Some may even have to make a trip to the home of the ill teacher to pick up materials for the lesson. By the time class has ended, more than one person has had an extremely stressful morning and it may even be questionable whether or not valuable class time was filled with meaningless activities and little actual learning.
It doesn’t have to be this way! A few advance preparations can make last minute volunteer absences stress free. It begins with establishing a substitute teacher team. Often professional teachers aren’t willing to commit to volunteering to be a Bible class teacher full time, but are more than happy to substitute for a couple of Sunday’s every few months. There may be other volunteers who travel a lot and can’t teach every week, but could schedule teaching for a few specific dates.
Once you have assembled your team (They should be screened as thoroughly as other volunteers.), make a schedule. Depending upon the size of your ministry and average number of last minute absences, you should plan to schedule one or two substitute team members for each date you have classes. Of course these dates need to be assigned with the knowledge of team members so they know in advance the dates they will be substituting. Volunteers should arrive at church ready to teach on their assigned dates without being called in advance. If they aren’t needed that day, they can attend their normal adult Bible class.
Finally, you need a substitute kit for each room. It should include a photo roll of the students in the class, any special information the substitute may need about students with special requirements, class rules, schedules, etc. Finally, the kit should contain everything needed for a creative, hands-on, meaningful Bible lesson and activity. It is often easier if this is a lesson not normally covered by your curriculum, so students know having a substitute Bible teacher means an exciting Bible adventure. (Once a lesson has been used, it should be replaced with a new one.)
With a substitute team, schedule and class kits, last minute volunteer absences will be no more stressful than a Sunday with no absences.