Discipline for Sunday School

You Have Come For Such a Time: Discipline for Sunday School
David Reynolds


“For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time… thou and thy house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).

The Christian teacher has never been needed more than today, and the challenge never has been greater. Public schools are self-destructing from forces without and within. Teaching a lesson without a disturbance and discipline problem is almost impossible.

Children come to us with hurt and anger caused by abuse and neglects which have nothing to do with you or your classroom.

In an advertisement in Reader’s Digest, I found comments written by Stephen Covey. Here is part of what he said: “Today, the patterns of family life are dramatically different from those of previous years. In the past society was considered an ally, a resource. People were supported by positive role models in the community and the media that helped sustain marriages and built healthy families. These days, however, we’re constantly trying to navigate through a turbulent, family-unfriendly environment.”

Consider that in the last three decades:
* The percentage of families headed by single parent has more than tripled.
* The divorce rate has more than doubled.
* Scholastic Aptitude Test scores among all students have dropped 73 points.
* One-fourth of all adolescents before they graduate from high school.
Stephen R. Covey

The dismantling of family values is caused primarily by the liberal influence of Hollywood, and evidenced by the media and the music of our day. Media glorifies and promotes everything not of Jesus Christ. Hollywood promotes abuse and sex outside of marriage, families without fathers, and disrespect for all authority.

As the family goes, so go the schools. Schools are changing, which makes them no longer a refuge for hurting youth. The schools of today have become large impersonal institutions. We need loving Sunday schools and caring Christian schools manned by dedicated teachers called to the ministry of teaching.

Problems Faced by Children Who Come to Sunday School
* Single parent homes
* Many men who play “father” in and out of the home
* Parents in prison
* Parents on alcohol and drugs
* Abuse verbally, physically, and sexually
* Violence/gangs

By 1946 many “Little Red Schoolhouses” were closed and the impersonal consolidated schools came into being. The present consolidated schools were developed to handle the large numbers of children who arrived in the “Baby Boom” after World War II. School buses started to drive children miles away from the nurturing home. Children began learning in a school far removed from their extended family and the close-knit community that was their support system.

At the high school level, each student is assigned five or six teachers responsible for teaching 130 to 150 students daily. This concept models the factory assembly lines which are thought to be more “efficient.” This structure allows each teacher to prepare for only one or two subjects each day subjects in which they are trained and most knowledgeable. They teach the same lesson to a number of classes each day. Schools now are formed based upon what is best for teachers not students.

Every class period is regulated by the sound of bells, at which students jump and run to the jurisdiction of the next teacher. This system might be good for the teachers, but not for the students. A teacher does not have enough time or energy to give each child the individual attention needed.

Since 1946 the separation has increased between home and school, until now the schools are expected to “do their thing” without input and without bothering the parents.
Many churches form Sunday schools, Christian schools, and Bible schools modeled after public schools. Remember, public schools are modeled after the factory for efficiency in order to save money. Not much thought is given to what is best for kids. We in Christian education need to look at a more Christ-like model.

Our present model is an “egg carton” which houses twenty-five to thirty students together whether they should be or not. Once a year the students play musical chairs and the twelfth cubicle moves out into the world ready or not. Many students are lost because they do not fit this model.

Many discipline problems are the result of the accepted system. I do not think Jesus would organize schools in this manner.

We who experienced this metamorphous in public education saw a dramatic rise in discipline problems, along with an increase of truancy and a decrease in dedication to study. Note that this decline started in the early 1960s at the exact time when the courts threw the Bible and prayer out of public schools.

Top Discipline Problems
Experienced By Teachers

1. Talking out of turn.
2. Chewing Gum
3. Making noise
4. Running in the halls
5. Cutting in line
6. Littering

1. Drug Abuse
2. Alcohol abuse
3. Pregnancy
4. Suicide
5. Rape
6. Robbery & assault


The above charts show what has happened in our schools during the past forty years. Looking apprehensively to the beginning of a new century, adults see high schools trying to keep guns and knives out with metal detectors. Students and staff fear for their lives. If Christian schools and Christian teachers with Christ-like methods ever were needed in the world, today is the time.

Thank God that most discipline problems Christian teachers’ face are of the 1940’s variety. Society’s problems are real and increasingly come to Sunday schools and churches every week. You can expect them in your classes. You may not be experiencing extreme problems yet, but you still battle every day to teach without interruptions.

Top Influences on Youth

1. Home
2. School
3. Church
4. Peers
5. TV

1. Peers
2. Rap Music
3. TV and Videos
4. Home
5. School

In this book I want to celebrate all Christian teachers. I want to encourage and inspire you to be all that you can be for God. I want you to model your teaching after the methods of the Master Teacher: Jesus. I want you to feel His dedication and burden for teaching; I also want you to learn from His methods.

Most teachers in Sunday schools and Christian schools teach because they feel called by God to minister to young people. Many are increasingly frustrated, however, by the constant interruptions and discipline problems that students cause. On the surface, these problems appear to stop the teacher’s ministry.

In this book I try to help you as a teacher accept children with problems so you do not see them as problem children. I suggest skills which, if practiced, will lessen classroom disturbances. Also offered for use when problems do arise are methods to keep these problems from escalating into a major crisis of open defiance. When open defiance takes place, instruction ceases since the problem must be handled immediately.

First, teachers should look at Jesus as the model of good teaching. As you do so in this chapter, let the Holy Spirit speak to you about your reasons for teaching and your attitude toward young people. Many teachers create their own discipline problems. Changing attitudes and methods goes a long way toward solving many of the frustrations of teaching.

I. Jesus Is Our Model For Good Discipline.

“Measured by the best standards of pedagogy, Jesus was the greatest teacher in the world. He knew his subject, He knew His pupils and He lived what He taught. As all roads lead to Rome all teaching should point to Christ.” Dr. Bob Jones Sr.

Jesus came as a teacher, not as a disciplinarian; yet His ministry was to people with real problems. Jesus came to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for those in prison, to give the recovery of sight to the blind, and to release the oppressed. Looking at His manner of working with hurting people can be of great help. As teachers we also work with hurting young people.

A. The Mission of Jesus the Master Teacher

Each year I accepted the task of assigning students to teachers. I took input from each student’s last year’s teacher and the parent before making my decisions. With this information in hand, I drew up the class rosters, balancing academic ability and discipline problems. At the beginning of the year I could count on certain teachers coming to my office requesting that certain problem children be removed from their list.

Other teachers, however, had a different attitude. Their attitude always was: “If you have a child with a problem, just give the child to me. I will solve the problem and teach the child.”

Jesus came to teach hurting people, people with problems. Many teachers see “problem students”, Jesus saw only people with problems. The way you see them is the way you handle them.

If you work with youth today you work with problems. Almost every family who comes to Jesus Christ today is dysfunctional. If you are a teacher sent from God, you will exhibit the spirit of Jesus. You will see yourself as having the solution for the youth who walk into your classroom. You will see yourself as a doctor, not a judge. Like Jesus you will look on the multitudes and be filled with compassion.

“And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things “(Mark 6:34).

Jesus’ mission statement is found in Luke 4:17-20: “And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.”

Compare Jesus’ words with the passage in Isaiah 61 from which He quoted. Jesus quoted exactly up to and included the words “to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” He then rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. Why did He stop there?

He stopped just before the words “and the day of vengeance of our God•.” This did not happen by chance. A day of judgment will come, but that day is not yet. Jesus came to preach, to teach, to heal, and to free mankind. How do you view your mission as a teacher?

As you teach you will face discipline problems. How you handle the discipline problems will be determined by how you view your mission.

When teaching and correcting young people, will you use discipline or will you use punishment? There is a difference.

The word discipline covers a broad spectrum of meaning. Discipline can mean “The training of the mind and character, a mode of life in accordance with rules.” The word also means, “punishment, especially the mortification of the flesh by way of penance.”

Though Jesus scourged the moneychangers and physically threw out of the Temple, more often He is at the other end of the spectrum: on His knees writing on the ground.

“He lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do 1 condemn thee: go and sin no more” (John 8:7¬11).

Jesus knew that Judas was a thief (John 12:6), yet He continued to teach and work with him right up to the time Judas went out and betrayed Him. Jesus allowed Judas to carry the finances for the group until the end; in fact, He did not demand the money back. Jesus hoped that Judas would change. That attitude is the true attitude of a true teacher.

Even at the Last Supper with His disciples, Jesus continued to reason with Judas. Not until determining that Judas was definite in his plans to sell out Jesus, did Jesus finally give up. Then, “Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly” (John 13:27).

Jesus disciplined by discipling His students. The word meaning discipline as used in II Timothy 1:7 admonishes “a sound mind, a self-controlled mind.” This definition also must be our objective as Christian teachers.

Jesus knew why He came. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: lam come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).


“A Sunday school teacher is a person whose job is to welcome a lot °aye wires, and see that they are well grounded” (Source Unknown)

As a teacher called of God to teach a class in a Sunday school or Christian school, you must also know why you are there. If you have the mission of Jesus, it will keep you through the storms of discipline problems. That mission will cause you to look at children differently. You will constantly ask yourself, “How would Jesus handle this young person?”

1. Jesus Came to Teach.

Jesus primarily was known as a teacher. What did Jesus teach? He came to teach the good news of salvation: His death, His burial, and His resurrection (I Corinthians 15:1-4). He came to teach deliverance from fear, deliverance from destructive habits, and deliverance from sin. He taught that today is the day of salvation and now is the time to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.

No matter what subject matter we have been assigned, the above lessons must hold priority. What if your students gain the whole world, achieve top positions in top professions, and lose their souls? They have lost everything.

2. Jesus Came to Heal.

Jesus came to heal. He came to heal broken hearts, broken bodies, and broken spirits. A Christian teacher will do the same. Jesus said, “A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory” (Matthew 12:20).

Your class will be full of youth who have been hurt. How do you view them? How do you view yourself? Are you a doctor or are you a lawyer? Do you weep over the condition of our youth? Do you cry with the prophet: “Is there no balm in Gilead? is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” (Jeremiah 22:8).

There is a Doctor in the house, and you are His assistant.
3. Jesus Came to Recover.

Many of our students are blind academically, but more important is that they are blind spiritually. Your task as their teacher is to open their eyes.

`Recovery’ means that a person had sight at one time but something happened to rob him of it. Many young children come to school thrilled and anxious to learn. However, because of a teacher unwilling to find out where the students were in strengths, learning styles, and weaknesses, the children are robbed of their enthusiasm. The teacher who instructs multitudes but forgets the individual robs each individual student, and children lose their “sight for learning.”

4. Jesus Came to Free.

Here again many students are bound by past experiences both at home and at school. Your task is to free the bound young person to learn and to live. You can be the one who unshackles bonds of fear, abuse, and feelings of low self-worth.

If you cannot free your students, please do not lay more shackles on them.

5. Jesus Came to Shut the Book on Judgment.

Jesus always showed mercy before He showed judgment. Christ-like teachers will be non-judgmental. When teachers finally have to discipline, they will discipline the infraction rather than punish the child.

B. The Manner of Jesus the Master Teacher

Jesus taught with authority. Jesus had a presence about Him which commanded immediate attention and respect. In the teaching field this quality is referred to as the “Locus of Control.” Locus of Control is a calm assurance which projects to others.

Students are assured that the teacher is in charge, is capable of teaching the lesson, and has a message important to them; therefore, they would do well to listen.
Teachers who teach with authority have fewer discipline problems. Students take advantage of teachers unsure of themselves, their subject, and their authority.

To teach with authority:
1. The teacher must know his subject.
2. The teacher must believe what he teaches, and that the subject is important to the student.
3. The teacher must believe he is sent to teach.
4. The teacher must live what he teaches.

We can teach with His authority and conviction because we have the Author of all learning living within and His power ministering through us. We are teachers sent from God

C. The Methods of Jesus the Master Teacher

A good teacher loves teaching enough to find out where students are in relationship to the subject, then start at the students’ point to bring them “to the knowledge of the truth.” The good teacher starts with the known and moves students to the unknown.

Good teachers are skilled in the methodology of their profession. They know their subject and their students. Good teachers are a student of teaching.

D. The Love of Jesus the Master Teacher

The vast majority of discipline problems would cease if the children knew we loved them really loved them.

Jesus loved His students. “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost” (Luke 15:4-6).

Children are the casualties of modern society. They have been given things but no love or individual attention. They live in poverty and broken homes within the borders of the most affluent society in the history of mankind. Children have been physically, sexually, and verbally abused. They are shuttled from day care to day care. The majority of children live in a home with no father; the majority of mothers work out of the home or are chemically addicted. In
Many homes the grandmother keeps a semblance of order and sanity.

When the rich young ruler came running to Jesus and kneeled, he asked Jesus the following question: “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?… Then Jesus beholding him loved him…” (Mark 10:17-21). Every good teacher must have the same element of love and compassion, which Jesus showed.

Jesus went to where the discouraged Peter was fishing and cooked him breakfast. He went to where the doubting Thomas was hurting and said, “Reach hither thy hand and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side…” (John 21:27).

Good teachers love their students and prove it by going to where the students are in order to reach out to them. The Apostle Paul said, “I am ready to come to you; I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved” (II Corinthians 12:14-15).

Students who know they are loved accept discipline as long as they feel that the consequences are fair. Teachers who show love have fewer discipline infractions than teachers who are not bonded to the students.

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35)


II. What a Problem! What an Opportunity!

Research has shown that if one child with problems finds just one adult for just one year—an adult who will reach out to touch the child’s life, showing that the child is special enough to care about—then this act may be all it takes to save that child. I am talking about a special touch for one lonely young person.

The Bible tells of a woman who desperately reached out to the Lord in the crush of the crowd for a special touch for a special need. The Master Teacher did not disappoint her. He focused His attention on her and singled her out for a miracle. We have thousands of students today who move in and out of our classes but are never touched or noticed.

Even though Zacchaeus was influential and rich he still was small in his own eyes. He was lost in the press of the people. I wonder how many other people who seem to be doing well financially, such as the student always well-dressed, are really suffocating for attention.
This biblical man, lost in the crowd, ran and climbed up a sycamore tree to see the Master Teacher. Zacchaeus knew He would pass that way. (How interesting that Luke even noticed what kind of tree it was.) When Jesus came to that place he stopped, looked up, and saw an opportunity.

“And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and .v(iw him, and said uno him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house” (Luke 19:2-5).

Jesus the Master Teacher stopped where Zacchaeus was, noticed him, then built a relationship. Another time, Jesus went through Samaria because a woman would be coming to the well alone. He needed to send His disciples into town so He would be alone with a woman who felt alone. He needed to quench the thirst of an eternally thirsty woman, one who was a reject of Israel.

As I watch Sunday schools and Christian schools slowly circle the wagons and turn inward to meet the needs of saints and their children, I wonder if we, like our Master, “need to go through our Samaria” looking for ones disenfranchised by the Church world. Evangelicals used to be of the poor and the outcast, but they are not the halt, the lame, and the blind anymore. Evangelicals have arrived and are now accepted. But they also maintain their own system, protecting their turf. We must be careful not to follow others down to the place where we are accepted but .not effective.

When asked how he was able to get so many disciples to follow him into drugs and murder, deranged killer Charles Manson replied, “I look for those to whom the system is not paying attention then I do the opposite.”

If a teacher had paid attention to even one of his disciples the story would have been different for that one. The story is told of a boy, who after a storm was throwing beached starfish back into the surf. A stranger asked why he was doing it, seeing there were so many starfish and the boy seemingly was not making much of a difference. The boy picked up another starfish and after throwing it back replied, “To this one, it makes all the difference.”

“But 1 have a large class and only a limited amount of emotional energy to spend.” The teacher’s role is to spend and be spent. Jesus the Master Teacher shows us the way. He said that He would leave the ninety-nine sheep safe in the fold and go out to find that one lost sheep.

Like the lost coin (Luke 15:8), something can become lost right in the house or in the church. Do we overlook the quiet and unassuming student in our church, school, or Sunday school classroom?

The story is told of a suicide note found after the death of a fourteen-year-old boy. The note said, “If anyone speaks to me on my way to kill myself; I will not do it.” I wonder how many teachers passed him in the hall that day? We want to teach the masses, yet they are saved one by one.

“Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42).

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26). One person is so important to God that the angels rejoice when one sinner repents (Luke 15:10).

Sometimes the teacher easily misses seeing the tree for the forest, and thus teaches the multitude.

“You Never Know Who
You Have In Your Basket”
Sermon title by Reverend Jerry.

Only God knows the potential of the one who is presently “in your basket.” The men who helped Saul of Tarsus escape over the wall in a basket did not know what a force for God was in their basket. Moses’ mother, loving her little baby and feeling (like many parents before her) that this child was special, did not realize the future leader for God lying in her basket. The shoe salesman who brought T.L. Moody to Christ never knew what potential this young man had to bring two continents closer to God.

“Except a corn of wheat fall in the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit… He that loveth his life shall lose it and he that hateth his life in this life shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12:24-25).

If you want to make a difference, teach!

The value of the individual is evident in the words of Jesus.

The above article, “You Have Come for Such a Time: Discipline for Sunday School” was written by David Reynolds. The article was excerpted from the book Classroom Discipline.

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”