The Best Adult Sunday School Teachers Are Facilitators

Sunday 23rd July, 2006

One of my friends, Richard Dodge, wrote an article on LifeWay's website called, The Equipped Sunday School Teacher.  In the article, he offers a quick assessment of several leadership skill areas:  

  • Equipper
  • Facilitator
  • Guide
  • Communicator
  • Listener
  • Evaluator
  • Team leader
  • Role model
  • Motivator.

I wanted to share what Richard had to say about the skill area of Facilitator.  He said,  "An effective teacher is more than a talking head. People learn when they hear from others in the class. We have many rich and interesting experiences that others can learn from and help them grow. Educators say that learning by doing generally is more effective than learning by hearing alone. The goal of effective teaching always should be to facilitate a process by which adults hear the Word, understand its application, and integrate it into their lives."

Androgogy is the theory of adult learning--with subtle and obvious differences from pedagogy.  One of the facets of the theory is that adults bring life experiences to bear upon all learning.  To neglect that fact is to miss learning assets.  That's why I see so much possibility for revolutionary Sunday School where the teacher exercises the role and leadership skill of facilitator.


One reason we may be having such a hard time enlisting new teachers is that we give them an impression that they have to be experts on God's Word and communication.  Yes, we should spend time with God in His Word as we prepare to teach, but we do not have to experts.  Rather, we need to be facilitators of encounters with God in His Word.  We can learn the leadership skill of facilitator.  We can bring our own experiences and those of learners to bear to the "encounter."

This accomplishes many aspects of revolutionary Sunday School including increasing participation of learners, moving beyond lecture alone, asking good questions, tapping into the relational and physical learning environment, etc.  How can we best accomplish helping adults "hear the Word, understand its application, and integrate it into their lives?"  Assess your class leadership.  How could expression of the leadership skill of facilitator help?

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