Sunday School Teacher Training in the right ‘Zone’!


SIM Malawi’s work with STUM and Sunday School Teacher Training is supported by SIM Malawi Project MW 96556 Christian Education Resources

 Sunday School Teachers United of Malawi (STUM) has an unique way of working and is now pioneering a new way of teaching Sunday School Teachers

The phrase ‘Training of Trainers’ is common in Malawi. This is a training event where the delegates, having received training, go back to their church or community to pass on their newly acquired knowledge and skills to other people. SIM Malawi’s partner Sunday School Teachers United in Malawi recently held an event in Salima, in the Central Region, which could be described as ‘Training the Co-ordinators’.

STUM has an interesting way of equipping Sunday School Teachers. It operates a   three-tier system under the auspices of its National Office.

It starts at the grassroots with ‘Clusters’: a grouping of churches from different denominations in a particular geographic area; it may be within a town or a group of villages.

Above this, it has ‘Zones’: a gathering together of a number of Clusters.

Finally, it has ‘Districts’ which are a collection of Zones.

Each of these three layers has a committee to oversee the work and, while it may seem very bureaucratic, it does work.

Sunday School teachers learning a clapping song from the STUM song book which they, in turn, will teach teachers in their Zones to enable them teach the children

The recent training event was for the Salima District and was for the Training Co-ordinators from the Zones it serves.

“Salima is the first District to have all of its Zones in place,” said John Msowoya, Country Director for STUM.

“Each of the Zones has two Training Co-ordinators, and the idea behind this training is that they can go back to work with their Clusters and with individual Sunday School Teachers to ensure that all have the best training possible.

“This is very much part of the philosophy of STUM as we are working to have well trained and resourced Sunday School Teachers in all churches in Malawi,” he said.

The three-day event included learning songs and games as well as going through a work book which contains a number of Sunday School lessons. All delegates were also equipped with a pack of resources to help them in their future work.

While the main aim of the training was to equip trainers to go into their Zones, there was a second purpose to it.

Prayer Points


Jim’s prayer points are all for the STUM national team which oversees the work.

Please pray for John Msowoya as Country Director

as he guides the team and the work of STUM


Please pray for the team at the National Office.  


Please pay that they stay motivated and keep their eyes on God

and what they are doing for Him.


Pray that they are able to develop their gifts and they can support

Jlease prohn in giving good leadership to STUM.


“Training the Training Co-ordinators to go back to their Zones and train others will ease the burden on the STUM National Office,” said John.

“We have a small team of six, and much of the training so far has fallen to us. If we can start training others to go back to Zones and Clusters, then it will release the National Office to do more strategic work. We will still continue to do training, keeping in close touch with the work that goes on across the organisation.

“This is the first time we have done this kind of training, so we will need to look at how it goes and then see how we can take it further. So far, nine Districts have completed the work of planting their Zones so there is scope for more of this kind of training. Then as other Districts complete planting Zones, we will roll it out to them as well.”

The relationship between STUM and SIM Malawi goes back to 2012 when John first shared his vision for Sunday School Teacher training with Jim Young who heads up SIM Malawi’s work in this area.

“John shared his visions for setting up committees to help run the training of Sunday School Teachers,” said Jim.

“Two members of my team went to an event John was running in Kasungu to find out more about it, and they reported back about the training and the vision. It seemed a viable way of working, so we set up a partnership between SIM Malawi and STUM.

“Certainly, with so many committees and groups, there are challenges, not least in mobilising people to do the work and to keep up the enthusiasm for it. 

“But the system works, and Sunday School Teachers are being well trained and equipped.

“We are at an important stage in the development of STUM. This training event is likely to be the first to make sure the Training Co-ordinators are well equipped. But then we need to do the same with Outreach Co-ordinators, Sports Co-ordinators and so on.

“We will face challenges, such as making sure people are properly equipped and trained, and it will cost money to do all of this. But the good news is our relationship is strong and we are making progress in making sure Sunday School Teachers and others working in this area are trained and equipped,” he said.

The impact of the Salima training event was summed up by one of the delegates, Esther Chisale, a Training Co-ordinator from the District.

“Salima will be changed because of this training,” she said.

“We will carry everything we have learned when we go back to our Zones and teach the Sunday School Teachers, so our teachers and our children will be changed because of this training.”


Learning a ’guessing game’ to play with the children. The blindfolded person has to identify where in the circle a noise comes from; if they guess correctly the person who made the noise puts on the blindfold and the game continues