Lessons with great preparation and presentation can still be failures. Jesus commanded us to make disciples. This process of transformation begins with salvation and moves toward increasing levels of submission and obedience. But lessons which fail to lead learners to apply and live out the truth only make them more guilty of disobedience.
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 focused on elements of lesson excellence related to presentation. In Part 3, I will lead us to examine essentials related to applying and obeying God in His Word. Consider the following application essentials:
- Plan for it. Intentionally invest a significant portion of your preparation and presentation time in application efforts. Consider what can be done to lead participants to move from head knowledge to taking steps of obedience in their own contexts.
- Don't teach too much. It is common to try to cover too many verses and too much material. That results in not having time for important "last things." Application is worthy of receiving significant attention and time. So focus teaching on important verses, background, and concepts.
- Allow enough time. Save an appropriate amount of time. Each lesson and method will cause the need for application time to vary. But don't skimp or "cheat" on the time. Stop examination of scripture and truth early enough to lead learners to conduct self-examination and make plans for taking action as a result of meeting God in Bible study.
- Allow time to think/reflect. A portion of the time that needs to be saved for application in almost every class will be for learners to think/reflect. Some will be able to respond off the top of their head immediately, but others will need time to think and reflect on questions and self-assessment. Give them time.
- Focus on one truth. Avoid trying to teach every possible point and truth and focus on the one God has in mind for that group of people at this point in time. Then continue to reinforce that truth in everything taught and every method used. Lead learners to focus on and respond to that one truth.
- Focus on the needs of 2-3 learners. When preparing for the lesson time of application, think about 2-3 specific learners in the group. Why is this passage and truth important for them? How do they need to respond? What are possible actions they could take? Next lesson, consider 2-3 other learners from the group. This makes the application more personal and concretely helpful.
- Pause to pray. Do not be afraid to stop at application time to pray for the class and the Spirit's help in moving from head knowledge toward obedience.
- Extend the "invitation." Be direct with application. Like in a sermon, point the lesson toward the truth that learners need to understand and obey. Then share 1-3 possible ways they can respond. Or give them time to write down responses. Lead them to make a commitment during class about living it out (in a concrete way) during the week ahead.
- Ask "What did you do?" At the beginning of next week's lesson, ask learners how they did at living out last week's lesson/truth. Hold them accountable to obey. Lead them to grow as disciples.
For more ideas about teaching for life-change, check out these blog posts:
- Expectation after the Sunday School Session
- Moving Adults Toward Deeper Levels of Learning in Sunday School
- Accountability Partners in Sunday School
- Five Practices of Life-Changing Small Groups
- Discipling Through Sunday School Jesus’ Way, Part 2 and Discipling Through Sunday School Jesus’ Way, Part 4
- Sunday School, One of the Ways to Get People Involved in Studying the Bible
- Sunday School: Growing One Disciple, Part 4
- Small Group Home Bible Studies Have More Time
- Marriage of Application and Story in Sunday School
- What Can Sunday School Do to Impact Life Change?
- Moving Sunday School from Knowing Toward Obeying
- Life Impact after the Sunday School Session
- Sunday School: Read the Bible for Life