How many Sunday School lessons would be considered excellent that had no or poor preparation? In no way do I want to dismiss the work of the Holy Spirit in the teaching event. I also believe, however, that our preparation can be Spirit-led as the group leader prays, has a personal encounter with God in His Word, and seeks His leadership. On the other hand, I have seen great preparation result in mediocre lessons through ignoring several elements of presentation excellence.
What does it take for a Sunday School lesson to be excellent? In Part 1, I focused on elements of lesson preparation excellence. In Part 2, I invite you to think with me about elements of lesson excellence related to presentation. Consider the following presentation elements:
- Prayerwalk, gather supplies, and prepare room prior. Arrive 15-30 minutes early. Prayerwalk the space. Attenders likely sit in the same seats. Pray for learners by name and for guests who may attend. Gather your supplies and prepare your room early. Be prepared prior to the first learner walking into the space.
- Start their thinking upon entrance, greet, and listen. Start thinking early about the truth for the day by passing out assignment cards, writing a question on the board, or arranging chairs with group assignments. Relationships matter between learners and the group leader. Invest well by greeting and listening to learners.
- Create interest. Start strong when it is time to start the lesson. That is why some teachers have opted to move announcements and prayer to the end of the lesson. Tell a story, share an illustration or object lesson, or ask a captivating question. Get their minds in the room toward the truth and topic for the day.
- Get them talking early. Within the first ten minutes, work to get everyone in the room to talk. If the group is large, that will mean you need to divide them into smaller groups with an assignment. If they talk early, they will be more likely to apply and talk about the deeper truths later.
- Focus on one truth and reinforce it. For most lessons, it would be better to focus on fewer verses and one truth which is remembered and applied than it would be focusing on twelve verses which learners don't remember or obey. Teachers often try to teach too much and learners often absorb little or none. If they cannot remember the lesson or truth, they are unlikely to live it out. Instead, focus on one truth and reinforce it through using more than one method.
- Engage learners by with teaching methods to address learning styles. The key here is to get learners involved. Lead them to engage the scripture. Lead them to meet God in Bible study. Engage as many of their senses as possible. Discover their learning styles and then use a variety of teaching methods to address their learning styles. Check out the blog post, Learning Styles in Adult Sunday School. Work to involve learners orally, visually, and actively. Seek to lead them to discover and apply the truth.
- Preview and review. Give them a preview of where you are heading at the beginning of the lesson and review what was covered at the end of the hour. These overviews not only reinforce learning, the preview focuses attention and the review sends them out to live the lesson's truth.
- Application and testimony. This is the reason for the lesson. The goal is life-change. The goal is producing disciples who are obeying. That means that no lesson should ignore application, nor should application time be reduced by spending too much time on earlier matters. Learners need time to reflect and apply this week's truth along with making a plan for living it out in their context. One powerful way of starting each lesson is having learners share what they did to live out the truth of last week's lesson. Doing so also builds expectation into the lesson for doing so next week.
For more ideas about teaching for life-change, check out these blog posts:
- Change a Life: Give the Gift of Sunday School
- Could Too Much Participation Be an Obstacle for Revolutionary Adult Classes?
- Wisely Choosing Sunday School Teaching Methods, Part 1 and Wisely Choosing Sunday School Teaching Methods, Part 2
- How Much Time Should the Teacher Talk during the Sunday School Lesson?
- Benchmarks for Excellence in Sunday School Teaching, Part 2
- Increasing Interest and Attendance in Sunday School, Part 1
- Hooks: Launching Powerful Sunday School Lessons
- Sunday School Lessons: Interest and Progress, Part 2
- Why Is There No Variety of Teaching Methods in Sunday School?
- Revolutionary Sunday School Teachers Engage Learners
- Sunday School: Leading People to Have and Obey Jesus’ Commands
- Evaluation of a Good Sunday School Lesson, Part 2
- Sunday School Teacher, You Are in Charge of Keeping Your Learners’ Attention!