Pat Thayer is the Area Children's Coordinator for Bible Study Fellowship of Missouri. I had the opportunity to correspond with her recently and interview her about training children's ministry leaders--both in a local church context and a para-church context.
This third and final portion of the interview focuses on classroom observations and having a growth mindset when we are in the classroom.
Jeff: As you train leaders what do you look for to give feedback?
Pat: Particularly, when I go into a classroom to observe, I pray for God to reveal to me all the good things that are happening in the classroom. Encouraging team members in what they are doing correctly is a great technique for training. It builds their confidence, ensuring that these positive techniques will continue. In a post-class debrief, I ask them what are the areas in which they are struggling. This may be a child's behavior, or how to include all that is expected. This usually gives me a chance to bring up ways in which the classroom could generally be strengthened. When doing observations, I have an observation checklist that was developed in conjunction with our Children's Ministry Coordinator (Here's a version of this we use at Journey Kids). I try to focus on the effectiveness of the teaching, particularly the connection of the lesson to Jesus and the Bible, plus the basic atmosphere of the class - reflecting the love of Jesus, building community, reasonably orderly, safe, etc.
Jeff: What is the biggest lie in your experience that people who teach kids believe about serving?
Pat: The lie that we believe is that we are there only for the kids - to teach them about God. Really, no matter what our motives were for coming to serve, God is going to use this time to reveal Himself more clearly to us. Our sins and shortcomings will become more very apparent. God's grace and enabling will become more real to us as we learn that one cannot successfully teach kids without listening to the Holy Spirit within us and relying on God to give us the stamina to persevere, the grace to love, and the wisdom to lead. Helping children learn about God will definitely grow you in your personal knowledge of and in your dependance on God. God has called you to serve to grow YOU!
Jeff: What is the main thing you believe that people who help teach children need to hear as they grow in using their gifts?
Pat: It is eternally important!!!! Never forget that we are training God's future leaders. They will become God's leaders somewhere - in their families, neighborhoods, churches, or perhaps their nation. Scripture commands us many, many times to teach God's Word to the children. Those of us who teach in churches or parachurch organizations can come along side families to help them in this process. Remember that whenever we have a child come into our classroom, we are becoming part of God's eternal plan for that child's life. We cannot protect these kids from life's difficulties, but we can be used by God to point them to the one and only person who can be their Refuge and Savior, Jesus Christ. What an opportunity we have to be used by God for His eternal purposes in each child's life!
I'm so thankful for this opportunity I had to ask Pat questions. If you've been encouraged, please leave a comment below to show Pat your appreciation.