Teaching Sunday school is a richly rewarding opportunity. However, teaching kids also carries with it some unique challenges. Kids are not made to sit still or be lectured to. Teaching them effectively requires an approach that is both creative and interactive. Sound a little overwhelming? Not to fear! Give this article a quick read and you’ll find 10 ways to improve your Sunday school lessons.
To help each of these ideas stick, we will present them in the context of a scenario. It’s Tuesday afternoon, and you’ve just received an email from your church’s Children’s Director. The email asks if you would be willing to teach Sunday school this weekend. Specifically, the story of David and Goliath.
You may be vaguely familiar with this story, but if you’re honest, you’re not feeling all that comfortable teaching it to a room full of children. Is it possible to prepare in such a way that you step into that Sunday school classroom with confidence? The answer is yes!
10 Ways To Improve Your Sunday School Lessons
Know your passage
So here’s the deal, it’s hard to teach what you haven’t studied. And while a good curriculum can provide a great summary, there is no replacement for opening up your Bible. In our scenario, this means setting aside a little time to read 1 Samuel 17. Remember, the Word of God is the foundation of your Sunday school lessons, and there is no substitute for time spent in Scripture.
Get some answers
So you’ve read 1 Samuel 17 and you have a few questions. Who are the Philistines? How tall is six cubits and a span? Why did David cut off Goliath’s head (and why didn’t anybody ever tell you that part of the story before)?! If you have a few questions, you can be sure your children will, too. Being prepared means doing your homework. A couple of great resources to help answer some of your questions are:
The Bible is a story, so it should be taught like one. David, Goliath and their respective armies were real people, in a real battle. This story is filled with drama, tension and excitement. Try to take your kids into this scene. Imagine hearing this opening to a teaching: “So there they were, two huge armies camped out on two hills with a valley between them. But one of the armies had a champion that was huge! A giant! Yes, a real giant!” Would you want to hear how that story ends? So would your kids!
Video is powerful
For our children, video is becoming a primary learning tool. And while video can never replace the Word of God, a good video can definitely help your kids engage with your teaching. Imagine that you have told the story of David and Goliath and then you show them a video, bringing the passage to life like this one:
A good object lesson helps put the teaching in your children’s hands and can vastly improve your Sunday school lessons. It lets them learn through experience rather than just listening. There are so many ways to learn, and listening to a teacher is just one of those ways. In our scenario, you could give each child a smooth stone, go outside and have them try and toss their stone into a bucket you set up far away. Let them see how difficult it is to hit a target. Then ask: “How was David able to hit Goliath with a stone? Do you think he needed God’s help?”
Don’t forget to play!
Jesus is not boring, and learning about His Word should be filled with joy! Building fun into a service is one of the great opportunities afforded in Sunday School. Maybe you did your research and found out that six cubits and a span is roughly nine feet, six inches. Well, why not grab the butcher paper and draw a 9+ foot Philistine! Once colored by you and the kids, you can hang him up and take turns throwing a bean bag to see who can hit him in the head for a winning shot!
Let your kids do some teaching
Some of the best moments of any Sunday school class occur when your children share what God is showing them. God has a way of speaking through our kids that is both playful and profound. Make room for this in your service. In our scenario, this can involve a Q&A session. Ask your children what they think Goliath thought when David challenged him to a fight. When a hand shoots up, let them go in front of the class and share. You may be very surprised by what God shares through your kids teaching a portion of the class.
For many, creative expression is the way they learn best. If they can cut, paste, color, fold and cover something in glitter, then they are all about the lesson! Come into your lesson with some creative/crafty elements. This can be coloring sheets, crossword puzzles, or spot-the-difference activities. The big idea here is to give your kids the space to creatively express what God has shown them through the lesson. A little creativity can vastly improve your Sunday school lessons.
Act it out
Nothing helps a child interact with a story more than putting them right in the middle of it! Give your kids a chance to retell the story by acting the scene out. This doesn’t have to be an elaborate, Oscar-caliber production. In fact, all you need to do is tape the name Goliath or David to a kids shirt and let them go. Not only is this a fun teaching tool but it’s guaranteed to inject some gut-laughs into your Sunday School service.
Pray, pray, and pray some more
Somehow, in the busyness of lesson preparation, prayer has a habit of falling to the wayside. But without God’s Spirit breathing life into our lesson, our preparation is in vain. There is not enough time in a week to fully prepare for any Sunday School lesson, but there must always be time to pray. If you’re in the midst of preparing a lesson right now, stop reading and take a few minutes in prayer! You’ll be glad you did
One final thought: There isn’t just one “right way” to teach our children. So, take this list as inspiration, rather than a kids ministry to-do list. If a few things from this article stir your heart, pray about implementing them to help improve your Sunday school lessons! And most importantly, thank you for investing in our children.