The Art of Teaching in a Growing Sunday School
Some believe the highest calling for a layperson is the call to teach. While a person might serve in many areas within the church, the opportunity to shape, direct, and mold the lives of others through teaching is one of the most exciting and challenging experiences.
COMPONENTS OF THE TEACHING/LEARNING EXPERIENCE Four components are basic to the teaching experience. These four elements are the student, the desired outcome, the material to be used, and the teacher. Everything that is a part of the classroom experience should fit within one of these four elements. Here is an explanation of these four elements.
Student: A church’s Bible teaching ministry should be student driven. A primary reason people are in the class is to find solutions or answers to their needs. It is important for the teacher to recognize that the students are individuals with specific life needs. The main reason to have a Bible teaching ministry is not to merely teach Bible facts, but to impact lives with the truths of God’s Word. In Romans 10:14, Paul said what good is preaching (teaching) if no one can hear it. Paul started from the perspective of the student (one who needed to hear).
Outcome: The ultimate goal of the classroom experience is for the students to live out the Scriptures in their daily lives and, over a period of time, to grow in their Christian faith. As a lesson is being prepared, the teacher needs to have in mind specific results to accomplish this goal. The result is termed as the outcome of the lesson. The outcome may not relate to the entire class every time the teaching experience takes place. At times the desired result may be aimed at one individual. At other times the outcome result may be directed toward two or three individuals. At other times everyone in attendance may be the focus of the desired outcome. It is a mistake for a teacher to assume that all students, at all times, will be the object of the desired outcome. This general approach to the teaching will be less than fruitful. A more specific and direct approach to outcome must be adopted if the students grow in their Christian life.
What must teachers know to be effective? What do I need to know to coach them in their ministry?
Material: When the teacher has meshed the central truth with the student’s need and established the desired outcome, the details of the lesson plan can be formulated. In preparing the lesson plan the teacher will make a list of materials needed to enable students to internalize the central truth and the outcome is realized. The material of the classroom experience is anything and everything the teacher will use to explore God’s Word. The material may be printed lesson helps, maps, electronic equipment, blackboards, pictures, or any number of other aids.
Teacher: The teacher is the guide to the learning experience. The teacher’s responsibility is to discover the life needs of the students, discover the truth of the Scripture to be studied, and direct the students to the desired outcome. This responsibility can only be accomplished when the teacher is involved in a detailed planning of the classroom experience. The teacher ensures that the classroom experience is planned, prepared, and ready for student participation. The teacher’s presence may not be critical in the classroom experience. It is possible for a classroom experience to be successfully conducted without the teacher’s presence.
THE LESSON PLAN The following is a suggested plan for preparing a Bible study lesson that is based on the four basic components. This plan is divided into eight steps.
STEP 1 — Lesson Bible Truth or Central Truth: The teacher must determine the central truth of the passage of scripture that will be explored in the classroom experience. The central truth is defined as the basic truth of Scripture as it applies to student needs. Sometimes a central truth is printed in the teacher’s materials. The teacher should avoid the temptation of using this statement when preparing the lesson. While this printed central truth statement in most cases is a good statement, it was not prepared with the needs of the students of your classroom in mind. The teacher must be sensitive to God’s leadership in order to see which portion of
Time Out! Who has been changed as a result of your Sunday School? Write their names here.
The overall Scripture text that has been suggested for the next classroom experience will address specific needs in the lives of the students. A further examination of the concept of a central truth is in order at this point.
A teacher should do three things to develop a central truth: write it, keep it short, and keep it simple.
STEP 2 — Teaching Aim or Lesson Outcome: A teaching aim is defined as a statement revealing where the teacher is heading with the central truth. The teaching aim will contain three elements — time, person, and action. Most teaching aims are stated in terms of what action the students will do or reflect in their lives within a certain period of time.
STEP 3 — Attention Pacer or Create Interest: The opening activity or statements are designed to focus the attention of the students on one item or thought. When students enter the classroom they are not ready to immediately dive into God’s word. Teachers that open the classroom experience with a prayer and immediately begin the teaching process will discover that the students will not be fully attentive until they are half way through the lesson. Thoughts occupying the mind of the student as he or she walks through the door will continue to occupy the mind for several minutes into the classroom experience. It would be better for the teacher to lead the students into an activity that would grasp their attention and focus their thoughts on one thing before moving into a study of the Scripture.
STEP 4 — Purposeful Bible Study: Purposeful Bible Study is an activity guiding the students through a hands on experience of examining Scripture. The end result of this portion of the lesson plan is to enable the students to discover the central truth for themselves. Students in general will not internalize the central truth unless they uncover it themselves. Most adult teachers use the lecture method of presentation at this point. Other teachers try to encourage student participation through the use of questions or discussion. Nothing is wrong with these two methods. There are, however, over 100 different methods than can be utilized to engage student participation. Students that are exposed to only one or two methods will probably feel the classroom experience is not interesting, exciting, or relevant to life needs. The only bad method is the one you use all the time.
STEP 5 — Practical or Life Application: When students experience the Scripture that was just studied as being relevant to their lives, practical application is being made. Practical application helps students understand that the truths they have studied in God’s Word still apply in today’s society. This is done by guiding students through an activity that will focus their attention to the relevance of the Scripture. This activity makes the life connection for the students and bridges from purposeful Bible study to follow-through.
STEP 6 — Follow Through: Follow-through is the time when the teacher guides the students through an activity to get them to experience what they just learned in the Scripture. This is where the teaching aim will be presented or experienced.
STEP 7 — Conclusion: The conclusion is not merely a time of wrapping up the classroom experience. It should also be a time to entice and encourage the students in regard to the next classroom experience. The teacher may choose to do this by presenting one or two statements outlining the content of the next classroom experience.
STEP 8 — Review, Rehearse, and Set-up: When the lesson plan is complete the teacher should review the plan to make sure all areas have been covered and are in order. Time should be taken to gather any materials or equipment needed for the classroom experience. The teacher may need to spend time rehearsing the lesson presentation to make sure all elements flow smoothly and materials and equipment will work properly. The final step for the teacher is to ensure that the classroom is set-up for the classroom experience. The set-up should be done as early as possible. Students should not be arriving while the room is being set-up.
The above article, “The Art of Teaching in a Growing Sunday School” was written by Randy Tompkins. The article was excerpted from A Coach’s Guide to Sunday School. Mississippi Baptist Sunday School Board. Used by permission. October 2017.
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.”