Your role as a Sunday school teacher is perhaps the most evangelistic position in the entire church, and it certainly is the key to the lifelong discipleship of our kids. All too often, we think of the field that is white and ready for harvest as being full of unchurched adults who are hurting and in need of an introduction to Jesus. However, the portion of the harvest field that is often forgotten are the very children who attend that same church week in and week out.
Multiple studies show that the vast majority of converted Apostolic Pentecostals committed their life to Christ at an early age, thanks to the efforts of a Sunday school department in partnership with parents. The truth is, every child, from the cute ones who have the elders wrapped around their little finger, to the noisy ones who stress out the cleaning team with the mess they make with animal crackers in the sanctuary need to learn the gospel.
Your purpose as a Sunday school teacher is much more than just babysitting so that mom and dad can hear the preached word—it is to instill the Word in the heart of the students in your charge and to help cultivate a relationship with God.
We see the importance of this in Luke 15 when the prodigal son finally becomes desperate enough he recalls the kindness of his father and returns home. Now more than ever, the church must focus on preparing the hearts of students they have, while they have them, so that when they are old they “will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
A 2019 study conducted by Ministry-to-Children cites sobering statistics:
- Two-thirds of Christians came to the faith before the age of eighteen.
- Forty-three percent came to Christ before the age of twelve.
- Less than one-fourth of current believers came to Christ after the age of twenty-one.
The children in your church desperately need Sunday school teachers who love kids!
Here are five ways to improve your effectiveness within the classroom:
1. PRAY FOR YOUR STUDENTS EVERY DAY!
No other generation of children has ever grown up this close to the coming of the Lord.
Pray for wisdom, guidance, clarity, influence, and peace.
They are facing pressures and temptations that has never been seen at their impressionable young age.
With the advent of technology, your students are “digital natives” and are able to use a smartphone or an iPad better than many adults before they are even out of diapers. The pressure to socialize on social media abounds. Cravings for “likes” and “subscribers” is at a fever pitch, and the world is overwhelmed by loneliness and depression. This has never been more evident than in the rash of school shootings that plague newspaper headlines at an alarming rate.
Your students need prayer. They need you to pray and fast for them. They need to learn how to pray. They need God. But first and foremost, you must pray for them before you can do anything else.
Pray for wisdom, guidance, clarity, influence, and peace. The call to pray for your students cannot be stressed enough.
2. USE A TRUSTED SUNDAY SCHOOL CURRICULUM
A great curriculum provides a safe starting point you can adapt to the unique needs and interests of your students. Curriculum will enable you to focus your time on your students and on your own spiritual preparation without having to spend too much time on developing something from a blank slate.
The Pentecostal Publishing House offers some tremendous curriculum that works great for any program!
- God’s Word for Life:
Based upon the specific needs of your church, you can purchase age-appropriate curriculum to fit your needs. God’s Word for Life is composed of five different age demographics specific to kids: Little Learners, Kindergarten, Early Elementary, Late Elementary, and MOVE!. Each group is directly focused on a learning style more than a specific age group so you can pick the material that best fits your group. The MOVE! Curriculum provides teachers with a way to teach multiple ages in a whole-group setting.
The focused instruction provides the class with an age-appropriate Truth about God that is intentionally designed to guide learners into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Specific lesson guides, activity pages, and resource kits are available as a bundle to purchase independently or even digitally!
- Digital Discipleship Project
It’s no secret that from the moment your students wake up until they go to sleep at night, they are bombarded with digital messages from a variety of sources—most of which do not reflect an Apostolic lifestyle. We invite you to consider each of the amazing Digital Discipleship options available through the Pentecostal Publishing House. Here are three featured products:
God desires for your discipleship journey to be marked by maturing faith. This is noted through an abundant life, filled with faith, contentment, love, and hope. This digital curriculum will guide learners through the discovery of God’s provision to live this life more abundantly.
Because we have been called into a covenant with God, we have the privilege of deepening our relationship with Him through spiritual disciplines. This series of digital lessons will help believers embrace the privileges of prayer, sacrifice, learning the Word, and faithful worship.Look to a strong curriculum grounded in Apostolic truth that will help set the foundation for Bible lessons. Click To Tweet
- Authentic Holiness –
As maturing Christians, we seek to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. The quest for authentic holiness is an inside-out process that begins with a transformed heart and affects our entire being. Teachers can utilize this series on holiness to students in understanding how to be holy in our hearts, heads, hands, and habits.
3. IT’S NOT JUST WHAT YOU SAY, BUT HOW (MANY WAYS) YOU SAY IT!
Encourage families to utilize God’s Word for Families.
Author John Maxwell once said, “Great communication depends on two simple skills—context, which attunes a leader to the same frequency as his or her audience, and delivery, which allows a leader to phrase messages in a language the audience can understand.” As Sunday school teachers, the practice of communication is too often thought of as only taking place within the four walls of your classroom—and just on Sundays. However, to truly disciple your students more effort needs to be made than just teaching Bible stories on a Sunday morning. We want our learners to learn about the Bible, but we also want to help them cultivate a relationship with Christ. This is modeled best when you communicate interest in your learners and develop a relationship with your students’ families outside of the classroom.
Encourage families to utilize God’s Word for Families: 365 Devotional Activities to Engage Kids in Daily Discipleship during the week to help supplement the instruction from your Sunday lessons in the God’s Word for Life: Children’s Ministry Value Pack.
Encouraging families to partner with you throughout the week will strengthen the home connection and remind students of the lessons taught on Sunday.
4. PATIENCE REALLY IS A VIRTUE
It’s been said, “It takes a village to raise a child.” That’s mainly because children’s developmental needs are so diverse, a team of different adults can minister to the different needs. Remember though, you may be the only safe place and reflection of Jesus they have in their world. Don’t become angry or frustrated with your learners if they misbehave. Show them you will love them no matter what they do. There is no such thing as a “bad kid” only “poor decisions.” Having classroom procedures in place that are implemented consistently and with fidelity will help alleviate student distractions. Teach them by example; don’t allow misbehavior to affect the way you act in return.
5. STAY ON THEIR LEVEL
Know your audience. Constantly referring to the “Greek” form of a word, or reading the commentary in your Apostolic Study Bible verbatim probably won’t impress or inspire your Little Learners Sunday school class. You do not have to tell the children everything they need to know about God in one sitting. Provide room for some fun exploration—incorporating games, crafts, time for them to ask questions about God (even if they are not about your lesson that day), and then teach them how to find answers in the Word on their own.
6. LOVINGLY ENGAGE WITH THEM!
Your students don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Engaging with students may require some personal sacrifice of your time outside of the classroom to attend baseball games, birthday parties, school performances, and whatever else they are into. Once your students see you celebrating their successes and passions outside of church activities, it will earn their trust and respect as someone who is genuinely interested in them.
Don’t be afraid to bring your lessons to life with carefully planned humor, object lessons, and real-world connections. Teaching can be fun. Enjoy it!
REMEMBER THESE 6 TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHERS…
- Pray: Before you attempt anything else, take time to pray for your students and for your class.
- Curriculum: Look to a strong curriculum grounded in Apostolic truth that will help set the foundation for Bible lessons.
- Communicate: Reach out to families during the week, reminding students of Bible points and encouraging them to rethink about the lesson in fresh and different ways throughout the week.
- Be Patient: Remember that being a Sunday school teacher is an act of love and ministry. That nine-year-old church bus student is not attacking you personally. They are craving love and sometimes negative attention is attention too. Don’t let them see you flustered.
- Keep it simple, Sunday school teacher! Have fun with the lesson and find ways to teach the lesson at a level the students can understand.
- Love on them: Cultivate a relationship with students outside of Sunday school. Find new and fun ways to bring the Bible to life in their world.
Finally, always remember teaching is a spiritual act. Be sure to have your own spiritual moment of prayer and reflection throughout the week. Allow God’s Spirit to whisper application and guide your class along their own life’s journey!