The old saying is true here: "The proof is in the pudding." In other words, whether we REALLY want our teaching to bear fruit or not will be shown in the result. This is true in most cases, but I am convinced that many well-intentioned Sunday School teachers want their teaching to result in impacted lives. But it is not happening.
What, then, are the reasons that teaching is not bearing fruit? I can think of three critical reasons:
- apathy (don't care),
- busyness (don't allow enough time for preparation), and
- lack of knowledge (don't know how).
APATHY. I tend to approach a person with apathy along two lines. First, I try to help him/her understand how important the job is to God and the sheep in his/her care. Sometimes that means helping this individual remember what it was like to be without Jesus and how much they have grown and learned. Often it means pointing out scripture passages and Kingdom truth. Second, I try to find him/her a place of service which is more fulfilling to him/her and the Kingdom. I find many apathetic people are simply warm bodies filling a slot rather than God-called teachers. We need to help each individual find his/her place in service using gifts, passions, abilities, personality, and experiences.
BUSYNESS. These teachers need to understand how important the responsibility really is. They need to examine priorities in their lives and where teaching fits into those priorities for their time and attention. Teaching that bears fruit requires prayerful preparation and investment in learners' lives. That takes intentional use of time. For some, merely pointing out how they are giving the task less than their best effort because of busyness will be enough to call them back to focusing on teaching efforts. For others, it is a chronic "sickness" that will take more help than we can provide. Those we may best help by releasing them from the responsibility.
LACK OF KNOWLEDGE. There is hope here. Some are not seeing fruit as a result of their teaching simply because they don't know how. With a little mentoring, apprenticing, training, and encouragement, these teachers can see more results. They can blossom in front of your eyes. So invest in these teachers.
I received a book in the mail yesterday. George Yates has written a book entitled Teaching That Bears Fruit. Here are the great chapter titles that address this very issue:
- Are We Teaching? Are They Learning?
- Teaching Methods, Learning Styles
- Jesus' Approach to Learning
- The Art of the Question
- Curriculum and Application Driven Teaching
- Evidences of Learning
- Interactive Learning
- Time Thieves of Christian Education.
For more ideas about teaching for application, check out these blog posts:
- Moving Adults Toward Deeper Levels of Learning in Sunday School
- Five Practices of Life-Changing Small Groups
- Sunday School, One of the Ways to Get People Involved in Studying the Bible
- Preparation for Small Group Bible Study
- The Best Adult Sunday School Teachers Are Facilitators
- Do We Hurt the Sunday School When We Address People’s Needs?
- Characteristics of a Good Sunday School Teacher, Part 1
- Preparing for Sunday School/Small Group Using the Inductive Bible Study Method, Part 3
- Assessing What Happens on Sunday Morning in Adult Sunday School
- Sunday School Lesson Preparation
- Balanced Triangular Sides of Life-Changing Sunday School Lessons
- Could R.O.P.E.S. Improve Sunday School?