From Bell Ringers to Blessing Providers: the Changing Role of Sunday School Presidencies

Contributed By Brother Devin Durrant, Sunday School General Presidency

  • 10 May 2016

The purpose of the Sunday School organization is to “strengthen individuals’ and families’ faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ through teaching, learning, and fellowshipping” (Handbook 2, 12.1).

Article Highlights

  • Sunday School presidencies have an increasingly important role in elevating teaching and learning throughout the Church.

“I invite each of you as Sunday School teachers and leaders to strive to bless lives by elevating teaching, learning, and fellowshipping in your ward or branch.” —Brother Devin Durrant of the Sunday School General Presidency

When I was called as a counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency in April 2014, my younger brother, Mark, sent out a tweet that read, “My brother will now be ringing the bell for the entire Church.” I laughed when I read his tweet. At the same time, I worried it might represent a general feeling amongst Church members.

Three-fold purpose

Yes, a member of the Sunday School presidency does often ring the bell to signal the end of class; however, the primary purpose of the Sunday School organization is to “strengthen individuals’ and families’ faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ through teaching, learning, and fellowshipping” (Handbook 2, 12.1). With love and effort, your Sunday School presidency can fulfill these purposes. What a great opportunity is yours to serve and lift others like never before!

Elevate teaching and learning

With the recent release of the Teaching in the Savior’s Way booklet and the announcement of teacher council meetings, Sunday School presidencies have an increasingly important role in elevating teaching and learning throughout the Church. When teachers learn to teach like the Savior, they help members to learn and grow for themselves. Members of the presidency can bless all members by helping teachers understand the simple but powerful principles in Teaching in the Savior’s Way. Sunday School leaders can bless teachers by effectively leading teacher council meetings in which they can learn and counsel together about teaching like the Savior.

Serve and bless

Consider taking time in a future presidency meeting to seek revelation regarding the various ways that each of you might bless the teachers in your ward or branch and the members they serve. What are their needs? How can you be of service to them? Read Teaching in the Savior’s Way for further guidance and inspiration. You might be prompted to be more helpful with classroom preparation so that teachers can focus on warmly greeting those who attend their class. Or you may feel directed to offer training on a particular aspect of teaching or on the effective use of technology in the classroom. You may also feel directed to spend time in the meetinghouse library or in classes with high-energy learners. As you seek divine guidance, additional thoughts and ideas will come to help you lift those you serve.

Love them

Along with your efforts to improve teaching and learning in your ward or branch, please take time to consider what you might do to provide fellowship to those in your care.

One of your clearest opportunities to bless lives as members of the Sunday School presidency is by making note of those who are not attending Sunday School and then reaching out to them in love. This can be done with the help of the Sunday School secretary, class presidents, or each teacher. Attendance information can be compiled and reviewed and shared with the Sunday School teachers.

During teacher council meetings, you might discuss ways to reach out to those who are not attending.

Some teachers in your organization might say, “My calling is to teach those who attend my class.” There is certainly truth in that statement. However, the person who may need what you are teaching the most is probably the class member who chooses not to or is unable to attend. How might you feel to know someone missed you and cared enough about you to drop by, call, text, email, or send a note and give you a brief summary of what was discussed in Sunday School? How might you have felt if you had been personally invited to attend or share a thought in the next class?

Be doers

There is so much more to serving in the Sunday School presidency than ringing the bell. What a difference you can make in your ward or branch if you choose to!

Life is busy for everyone. However, with planning and prioritizing, even the busiest people can find time to lift others through their Church callings. I invite each of you as Sunday School teachers and leaders to strive to bless lives by elevating teaching, learning, and fellowshipping in your ward or branch. “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). Seek guidance from the Holy Ghost. Take action on the promptings that come to you. Embrace the privilege of being blessing providers as well as bell ringers.

To learn more about the new Teaching in the Savior’s Way booklet and teacher council meetings, go to teaching.lds.org.