Here are 5 ways to prepare for Sunday School gleaned from years of experience to help you and your kids have a great time learning about God.
These 5 ways to prepare for Sunday School have been the foundation of my ministry to children for over 2 decades. None of the ways is “new.” In fact, they have been the cornerstone of thousands of teachers over time. In this article, I want to share with you these 5 ways to hopefully get you renewed or maybe excited for the first time about teaching Sunday School.
To begin, let me share with you two of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite children’s ministry leaders about the importance of being prepared :
As you can read from these 2 quotes, preparation is indeed very important. Yet, all too often, Sunday School teachers and children’s ministers alike expect to put together a lesson with only a little preparation. This is a sad error in judgment and the children are the ones who end up paying for their teacher’s lack of care.
I am going to make a bold statement. I guarantee you that if you come to your class well prepared you will eliminate 90% of all your discipline/behavior problems. Why can I say that? Because I’ve seen it work over and over again in my own ministry and in others’ ministries.
But what do you need to prepare?
1. Prepare your heart – First of all, you need to prepare your own heart. God desperately loves each of the children that are in your classes. He wants you to give them your all and He wants you to have a heart that is ready to serve them. Colossians 3:23 says this: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…”
Your heart needs to be in the right place. This can happen by…
* Confessing your sins – As Christians, we know that we are seen as righteous before God because of the blood of Jesus Christ who has cleansed us from all our sin. But while we now can have a relationship with God, we must still battle sin in our lives until we enter into eternity. 1 John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Before you step into your Sunday School class, spend time before the Lord confessing any sin that might stand in your way of effectively sharing Jesus with your children.
* Ask God for wisdom as you prepare – Why is that we often teach our children without asking for God’s wisdom to do so? We must remember that God knows the children we serve far better than we ever will. He knows what we need to meet their needs and He will give us wisdom to correctly share His Word.
* Remember that you are in a spiritual battle – I am convinced that our classrooms are battlefields and you must be equipped with God’s power to reach your children. Every generation brings us closer to the difficult days of the “end times” mentioned in the Bible. These will be days of increased disrespect among children and their families. Therefore, as good soldiers of the Lord, we need to be prepared to shine the light of Jesus and be the salt that preserves the truth that we get to share with them.
* Ask God for His blessing on your preparation – I am learning more and more that Jesus is waiting to bless us. We only need to ask. He may not give us everything we want, but He will always give us what we need. I believe our Sunday School rooms need God’s blessings of love and compassion and truth as we teach each week.
2. Prepare your Bible Lesson
* Read your lesson several times. – If your Bible story or verse has some “tongue twisting words,” make sure you know how to say all of them correctly. Also, reading over your lesson helps you “lean in” to all that you get to share. You want the lesson to be familiar to you when you walk into your class so that you and the children will be comfortable knowing you are ready.
* Meditate on the Scriptures and message you will be sharing till it speaks to your own heart. – Question: Can you still learn something of eternal importance from a Bible verse or story even if it’s the 100th time you’ve read it? Answer: Yes! God’s Word is living and active. (Heb. 4:12) As Sunday School teachers, many of you have taught the same stories for many years. But I believe that if you have taken the time to meditate on the verse or story before teaching it, you could say that the Lord has taught you something knew each time.
* Ask God for creativity in sharing the story. – I can hear some of you say, “But I am not a creative person.” I get that. God has definitely gifted all of us in different ways. But we ALL serve a creative God – a God who created the world in 6 days! Take time to ask Him for the creativity you need to serve your children. He may give you a brilliant idea or maybe He will lead you to a friend with some creative thoughts.
* Practice narrating or telling the story. – The stories of the Bible should come to life within your classrooms. As you practice telling the story, it will become familiar to you. Your interest in the Bible will prayerfully spark interest in the Bible for your kids. Make each story as special as you can.
Enthusiasm is contagious. Every time you stand to teach, give it everything you’ve got. Kids enjoy listening to a teacher who radiates warmth, excitement, energy and enthusiasm. On the other hand, the slow moving, quiet mannered teacher who drones on and on in a monotone voice will lose the attention of any class, no matter how good the material he or she is presenting.
God has given you 5 GREAT tools to project energy and enthusiasm:
1. Your Eyes
2. Your Voice
3. Your Gestures
4. Your Body Language
5. Your Smile
Take each of these great tools and learn how to use them in different ways to help keep your kids’ attention.
* Teach to YOUR students. – When you are preparing your lesson, think and pray about the kids in your class. Ask the Lord to help you meet the needs of the children that in your room. Mrs. Smith, two doors down, has a different set of children with different needs. You might be teaching the same lesson, but you want your lesson to cater to your kids as the Lord leads.
3. Prepare Your Visual Aids
* “Interest leads to attention and attention leads to learning.”
* “You want to appeal to the sense of sight as well as the sense of hearing, so find a way to visualize your lesson for your students. Be sure to use visual aids for every part of the lesson, not just the Bible story.”
* “Prepare your lesson so thoroughly that it excites you, overwhelms you, and becomes so compelling that you feel you will die if you are not allowed to share it with your students!”
Quotes from Ed Dunlop
Visual aids are a necessity when teaching and effective Sunday School class – at least this is true, here in America. I know other countries and cultures are different, but here in the USA, visuals are a MUST! I would NEVER teach one of my programs without a “stage” full of exciting props, object lessons and banners for the children to feast their eyes upon. Each visual aid is like an additional helper in the room keeping the attention of the children.
I LOVE creating new visuals or gathering new props to teach a lesson and yes, I can say along with the quote above, “I might just die if I don’t get to share what I have put together.
What can visual aids do?
- They can grab the attention of your children. The moment you pull out a puppet or a great prop, you have just catapulted your way into the hearts of your children. And if you are well prepared with the visual aid you are sharing, you will have your children’s attention in the palms of your hands.
- They can help your kids’ understanding. Remember: A lot of Bible culture is foreign and unfamiliar to our Western way of life. Your students may struggle just to follow you through a simple Bible story if you are not teaching with visual aids. Sometimes you may not even be aware of the fact that a difficulty exists in the child’s mind.
- They can cause your children to remember the lesson. “A picture is worth a thousand word.” We all know this quote to be true. We also know that a visual will almost always enhance our memory. And of course, one of the greatest goals of every Sunday School teacher is for their children to remember the lesson.
4. Prepare Your Classroom
Is your classroom fun and inviting? I have seen a LOT of Sunday School rooms since I travel to different churches to perform my programs. I wish that I could tell you that most of the rooms I see are fun and inviting, but unfortunately that’s not the case. A Sunday School room should be beaming with color and bulletin boards or paintings that reflect the Bible and its stories. It should also be very clean and orderly – a place that is safe and comfortable. Try to view your room through a child’s eyes. As a Sunday School team of teachers, come together over a weekend or two and create rooms that any child would want to play in. You don’t have to break the bank to do so. A little creativity will go a long way.
To sit or not to sit? – I feel a Sunday School room should have an appropriate number of tables and chairs to accommodate the children during table-time activities, but otherwise, the room should have ample wiggle room and open space. Your activities should vary between quiet and very active. Make sure your room can accommodate both types of activities.
5. Prepare Through Prayer
* Prayer is the most important facet of your entire ministry. Remember to take time to talk to the Lord about every part of your lesson and about every child in your class. Then listen to what Jesus wants to do and say through you to minister to HIS kids.
* Pray for your children by name and get to know them so you can pray effectively. This will help you keep them on your heart and get to know them better in general. Find out all you can about each of the kids you minister to and pray for them.
* Tell them YOU are praying for THEM. As you know, some of your children come from loving Christian homes and some do not. Remember that you get to be the light of Jesus. You get to show them His love. You get to pray for them. So, tell them that you are praying for them. You never know, it might be just what they need to hear.
* Put their names on your fridge or somewhere to remind you to pray for them. This is just a little idea to help keep your kids in your heart and mind.
In this article, I’ve presented you with 5 ways to prepare for Sunday School. If all this sounds like work, you’re right. It is work, but every moment spent in preparation for class pays tremendous dividends the instant you walk into the classroom.
I pray you take your position as Sunday School teacher seriously as you hold forth the Word of God to the young ones before you.
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