In my previous posts I had shared various ways of teaching a story through crafts. You can check them out here, here and a lot more here. Today, I want to show you the path to preparing a lesson on your own, simply because you know your kids better. I could find no better place to start than the ‘Preparation’ itself. Thanks for reading 🙂 and don’t forget to share your thoughts with us in the feedback form provided below.
ARE YOU PREPARED?
Have you seen an athlete, who prepares for years to run a few hundred meters? When you were younger, did you spend months preparing for a few exams? Have you seen your mum get up early in the morning to prepare for hours for the day’s meal? All these examples lead us to one simple conclusion: Preparation! Preparation! Preparation! It is the soul of a successful Sunday school session too.
Have you noticed Sunday school teachers preparing for their session on Sunday morning or worse during the singing time of the Sunday school (or even worse, just during the session)? I have always found such sessions to be the most ineffective. The classes in which children are transformed every week are usually the ones which have a teacher who prepares himself/herself passionately throughout the week just to take an hour’s session.
I urge you today to think about how you prepare for your Sunday school session, simply because that determines how effective your teaching is going to be. If you would like to learn some tips and tricks about this priceless lesson ‘Effective preparation’ read along. And don’t forget to let us know your thoughts on the same by commenting in the space provided at the end.
I would like to categorize the preparation process into four steps as follows :
In this post I would like to expound on the first step: message preparation. It is my hope and desire that you find this article helpful. 🙂
The first step of the preparation process is the lesson that you are going to share with the kids. Well, you might say, ‘That’s not a big deal! I have been given what to teach every week!’. I am afraid you might have got it wrong as I had for years in the beginning of my Sunday School ministry until God taught me the secret ingredient behind this first phase. You may not believe if I said that this is where 75% of the Sunday school teachers falter. Let me explain with my own story 🙂
When I began taking Sunday school years ago, I was always very particular that the kids learn the lesson I taught and remember it forever. ‘That’s a good thing!’, you might say. Yes, it is. But I went terribly wrong with the ‘lesson’ part. If I was teaching Noah’s story, I would want the kids to remember that Noah sent the raven out first and then it was the dove and not the other way around. With Jonah, how can you forget that he was in the fish’s belly for three days and not four! Eventually kids developed a healthy head knowledge about the story in the Bible but not its principles and truths. The protecting God and the obedient Noah in Noah’s story / the forgiving God and praying Jonah in Jonah’s story came at the end of the session just before the closing prayer. And it always started with ‘So kids, the moral of the story is …’. By then the kids would have started to squirm around in all possible directions and some would have even starting yawning as if it was time for a nice sleep after a great bed time story. The story went deep into their hearts but not the message. Now do you see, all the effort we put in would be wasted in this case because for them it is yet another jolly good story. Such a message does not reach them the way it ideally should.
So how do we do it?
Step1: Pick your lesson
A lesson is made up of two parts – The story and the message.
It works in two ways.
- You start with the story and find the message
This happens when you have already been given a strict syllabus to follow by your Sunday school director or your pastor. It might even contain the message you have to conclude with. Whether the message is given to you or not you will have customise it according to the needs of the kids for that particular week. This is very important as this is the seed you sow into your kids for the entire week or till you meet again. Pray about it and ask the Holy spirit to show you what the needs of the kids are and what you should teach them. He will help you understand the message you will have to share in some way or the other – through a sermon/ a parent might come to you and ask you to talk to their kid about a particular issue/ an urge from the Word during your quiet time. Say, you have to teach the story of Jonah and the manual tells you to talk about how Jonah prayed for forgiveness and God forgives. But the Spirit might guide you to share that there are always consequences to sin – ‘Jonah had to be in the stinking fish filled with enzymes and acids well capable of digesting him. But because he called to God, He protected him. God helps people even when they have strayed away from Him but they would have to face the consequences’. When you ask the Holy Spirit to help you, He would give you new revelations which you may not have thought or heard of before and that will work in the kids and transform them.
- You start with the message and find a story
Say, you do not have a strict curriculum to follow. You might get the urge to share a particular message through different ways I mentioned previously. Then search for a story that proves your message.
Step2: Structure the message
Now that you have decided your lesson which consists of the story and the message, this last step in the first phase (Message preparation) has everything to do with the message. In this step, you will shape up the raw message you have chosen to share.
- Make sure your message can be stated in a single phrase/sentence, meaning, there should be only one point you focus on. Say it is ‘forgiving God’ then the entire story is meant to proclaim the message ‘God forgives’.
- Message has to be simple and relevant to kids.
- Message according to me can be under two categories :
a) Christian fundamentals b) Practical
Messages on Christian fundamentals deal with Christian beliefs and Biblical principles. (God is our protector/ God cares for us). These are necessary for every believer, and even more important with Sunday school because starting young with Biblical principles means that their faith is built up right from an early age.
A ‘practical message’ deals with the action part ( We need to pray to God / We have to read our Bible every day)
In some occasions you might find your message has both the Biblical principles and practical message (Eg. When you call to Him he will answer you). Sometimes no matter how much you try, you may have only one form of message (Eg. God created the world). In such cases, make sure you balance the session by taking a lesson with the other form the next week. Kids will know the truth through fundamentals / Biblical princples and they will learn to obey the truth through the practical message.
I shall share the other steps of the preparation process in the coming posts with more examples. Do let us know your opinions on the same. God bless!