We’ve stated that Sunday School’s purpose has commonly become the biblical education arm of the Church. But, outreach and assimilation can also take place through this ministry as the teaching of God’s Word is instrumental for all of these purposes, not just discipleship for spiritual growth. This, therefore, guides a Sunday School teacher’s methods and materials.
What a Sunday School Teacher’s Methods and Materials Should Lead to
Consider what Sunday School should lead to and the methods and materials needed to get there becomes more obvious.
- If Sunday School is going to lead to the discipleship of believers into fully devoted followers of Jesus, then teachers need to employ hands-on methodology that enables students to engage with the Word of God.
Sometimes we do need to lay the groundwork for what is to be learned. Some lecture could be appropriate to get out content but it shouldn’t be the sole, or primary, means of teaching. The younger the age, the shorter the lecture should be. Intersperse it with other methodology. And, most certainly add visuals wherever possible. Follow lecture with opportunity to interact in some way.
Aim toward more student-oriented methods than teacher-oriented to keep students active, rather than be passive recipients. Include a variety of methods within a given lessons, increasing the potential of reaching different learning styles.
For Sunday School to lead to changed lives, methodology most get beyond a catechetical question and answer session to truly grappling with what the Bible teaches. Being filled with knowledge isn’t the end goal but rather applying truth to life, bearing fruit to the glory of God, and getting to know God better, not just about Him (Col. 1:9-10). That won’t happen if students don’t grasp the significance of the lesson to their lives.
- If people are going to resolve their doubts and hesitations to give their lives to Jesus, Sunday School teachers need an openness to deal with real issues, reflected in the way class time is structured.
Time needs to be built into the lesson for possible questions people might have. Teachers need to guard against being the one to ask all the questions. Students should be allowed to ask as well. And, the teacher doesn’t need to be the one always answering questions or monopolizing discussions. Others in the class have undoubtedly grappled with doubts in the past and can provide valuable input.
Certainly, though, class time should not totally revolve around outreach as many attend who already know the Lord and hope to get to know Him better. Sunday School teachers need to know when it’s time to move on but do so in a way that doesn’t shut down people’s search for answers. One way to do that could be to have breakout groups wherein groups deal with different topics or issues. At times, teachers may need to offer to continue one on one after class. Teachers would also do well to have follow-up materials on hand to send home with searchers.
- If Sunday School is going to be a place to build relationships, then it needs to include community building activities.
Methods that get people interacting with one another open the door to developing relationships. That would include discussion methods and group projects. If you don’t have time for a lengthy discussion or your class is too large for an open discussion, a simple neighbor nudge or breaking into smaller groups could work.
Also consider seating arrangements. It’s difficult to relate with others when seated in rows looking at the back of someone’s head. When possible, arrange chairs in a circle or semi-circle.
Extracurricular activities certainly would have a major impact on building community. Eat together. Engage in a fun activity or recreation. Serve together. To keep your class from becoming cliquish, sometimes have them invite others to these activities. Perhaps they could work together to sponsor a church-wide event to get to know and reach out to others in the Body.