We’ve all experienced a Sunday School teacher who is gifted with the skill of teaching.
Often we think, “I could never teach Sunday School in such an effective way.”
This made me wonder, is there a general format that any teacher could follow, no matter their skillset, to offer an engaging lesson?
I think there is.
In future newsletters, I’ll get into the details of what makes a perfect lesson format anyone can use.
But before I do that, let me share some typical habits of Sunday School teachers that hurt the quality of their class experience even though they are done with the best intentions.
Bad Habit 1 – Overpreparing
We all have nightmares of teaching a class and getting zero engagement from those in the room.
What if nobody talks and I just stand there for 40 minutes while the class blinks at me?!
Therefore, teachers overprepare with quotes, personal interpretations, and historical/academic explanations of scriptural content.
Teachers spend so much time doing this that they have way too much material and can’t help but firehose the class with insights from their personal study.
This leaves the class unprepared to participate because the teacher took the class down a wormhole class members never anticipated.
The teacher should be familiar with the block of scripture they are going to focus on (more on this in the next point), but over-preparing only increases the likelihood of a lecture-style lesson.
Bad Habit 2 – Not focusing class preparation
At the time of publication of this newsletter, the coming Sunday School lesson will cover Hebrews 7-13 and the book of James.
That’s 12 chapters of scripture!
So, if I did a deep dive into Hebrews 11 during my personal study and the teacher wants to focus on the book of James, I don’t have a lot to offer.
However, if the teacher gives me a heads up by telling me that in the next Sunday School class we are going to explore James 1, verses 1-20, every person in Sunday School is much more likely to come prepared with thoughtful remarks and perspectives to share in class.
Bad Habit 3 – Seeking a Class Discussion
In recent years, there has been a push to avoid a lecture teaching style in Sunday School.
One speaking to many.
In order to avoid the lecture style, the teacher will try to get other people talking in any way possible.
This leads to teachers passing out quotes to read (stop doing this).
Or even asking for comments from class members.
Once various people start commenting (or reading their slip of paper) the teacher can feel like they have successfully avoided the “lecture style.”
This is false.
The teacher has only perpetuated the lecture style (one speaking to many).
Instead of one person lecturing, we now have multiple people lecturing.
I can see how general class comments are a good place to start to get the room warmed up, but if you want to engage in learning and connection you must stimulate many speaking to many.
How is this done?
Small group discussions.
I know, I know… for some reason, human nature repels small group discussions.
Push through this resistance and I promise it will pay off.
This is why each ward could easily have multiple Sunday School classes of small groups (if that type of staffing is possible).
Or hold Sunday School in the cultural hall, giving ample space to spread out groups of people.
Or it can still be accomplished in any Sunday School room.
In this setup, the teacher is simply feeding the groups discussion questions or scripture blocks to read and discuss together.
Brad Pelo, the Executive Producer of The Chosen, talked about the success of doing something similar when he taught Sunday School (listen to the clip HERE).
Engage those in the class by allowing them to participate in smaller groups and they will more likely have a transformational experience.
Those are my top three bad habits Sunday School teachers do with the best intentions.
What bad habits would you add to the list?