Practical Ideas for Teaching Sunday School

An important facet of communication is the ability to teach. The Bible speaks much of teaching:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.—Matthew 28:19

And he began again to teach by the seaside: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.—Mark 4:1

And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.—Acts 5:42

These things command and teach.—1 Timothy 4:11

That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,—Titus 2:4

And he gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, pastors and teachers.—Ephesians 4:11

Whether in Sunday school class, lessons, or teachers’ meetings, you will need to be able to teach. D. L. Moody said, “If you are going to be a public speaker, train yourself for that.” A seasoned public speaker once gave some wise advice by saying:

  • Stand up to be seen.
  • Speak up to be heard.
  • Sit down to be appreciated.

Here are some suggestions for teaching Sunday school:

1. Do Not Teach Too Long

Someone has said, “The mind cannot comprehend any more than the seat can endure.” This applies to any public speaking. Spend time in preparation so you can teach your subject and then sit down. Do not repeat phrases because you run out of things to say. A guest speaker at my college graduation spoke sixteen minutes, but what a message it was! Graduates are still talking about it.

2. Use Visual Aids When Appropriate

These can be used in lessons as well as sermons. Someone has said that the mind remembers ninety percent of what the eyes see and only ten percent of what the ears hear. I once saw a preacher use a rock and a jar of sand when preaching about the wise man who built his house upon the rock. If it fits in, use it.

3. Learn to Use “Attention Getters”

A person’s attention span is only five to seven minutes, then there is a lull in his attention. Children’s attention spans are only two to three minutes. To help change a student’s life in a lesson, you must keep his attention. It takes work, but it can be done. Watch great teachers to see what they do to hold student’s attention. I have noticed teachers using the following methods, which work well:

  • Moving around the classroom
  • Fluctuating your voice: Talking loud at times and soft at other times keeps attention.
  • Accelerating your voice: Speaking slowly or quickly and articulating words helps people concentrate on what you are saying.
  • Clapping your hands: During parts of the lesson when you see you are losing attention, clap your hands once, or several times.
  • Pointing your finger: This is done in directions and not at individuals.
  • Silence: People fear silence. When needed, stop for several seconds or until everyone is looking.
  • Staring at an object: People stop their daydreaming and wonder what is so interesting about the object.
  • Humor: When in good taste, a funny story or being humorous can keep attention.
  • Holding an object: Taking your glasses off, taking out a handkerchief, holding keys, etc., gets people to look and see what you are doing.
  • Illustrations: Charles Spurgeon said that illustrations are windows with which to look into truth. Personal or biblical illustrations usually produce the best results.
  • Ask the congregation to answer you out loud
  • Catchy Titles: Here are some examples: The Poor Rich Man, The High Cost of Low Living, Why You May Not Like Heaven, When John Saw Me in Heaven, The Man with Better than 20-20 Vision;
  • Be excited about your subject: If you are applying the truth you speak about to your own life, others will know. Let the Bible be exciting and practical.
  • Description: Colorful words, adjectives, and a vivid imagination can make any Bible truth or story come alive to the listener.
  • Eye contact: Look at people’s eyes. Let them know your lesson is to them and not to the back wall.
  • Role play: Ask the students to help you act out the story.

The greatest compliment you can receive concerning your teaching is for people to say, “Every time you teach, I go home with something new I have learned.’

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