Jesus’ method of teaching was not exclusive to talking. The one and true Master Teacher spent time with His disciples so that He could model truth for them. He did not just tell them; He took them. Sunday School teachers should follow Christ’s example and do class ministry projects by going together to witness, visit hospitals, meet people’s needs, etc. The teacher can personify biblical truth to his class members as they do ministry together.
Society’s approach to learning today is very passive. I believe television has fostered noninteractive, nonthinking students and the entertainment industry has conditioned us to sit and receive. We are asked to do very little or even to contemplate anything. Our only responsibility is to turn the television on and then be fed. It seems that when entertainment was radio and reading, we had more creative, imaginative, and involved learners. Progression in technology seems to have produced regression in thinking. Today’s Bible teacher must recognize the dilemma that many people who sit in their class have become passive receptors. Therefore, drawing people out of their passive comfort zone is a challenge for any teacher and yet should be the goal of every teacher. Teachers cannot be satisfied with class members showing up merely to watch or be entertained. We must lead them to be discoverers and examiners of biblical teachings.
We must adhere to the principle that maximum involvement equals maximum learning. Everyone should be engaged in the learning process. I have always felt that the greatest thing I could do for my class was to get them to think for themselves. God gave them a mind for a reason. If I could engage them in the learning aspect of the Bible, I always felt my chances of engaging them in the doing aspect of the Bible were greatly enhanced.
We must expand this principle and realize that maximum involvement equals maximum learning, and maximum learning equals maximum obedience. When people discover truth for themselves, they are more apt to obey that truth. Of course, the opposite is true. A lack of involvement produces a lack of learning. Spoon-fed truth is not often digested. Therefore, using a variety of methods becomes a must for every teacher. Everyone does not learn the same way. As more methods are used, more people can connect with the lesson. As members connect, they become more interested, more involved, and consequently, more obedient. We must adhere to the principle that maximum involvement equals maximum learning.
After our church went to a new Sunday morning schedule, it provided an hour of Sunday School where there was no worship service. This gave Pastor Johnny an opportunity to attend Sunday School so he visited some Sunday School classes with the goal of joining one. (He did join one and is in Sunday School every week.) One day in a staff meeting he shared about visiting classes and said to me, “Allan, we have some wonderful classes, and we have some teachers who really know their Bibles, but I have noticed that many of them lecture every week. I think we want to get people interacting in a Sunday School class.” “I agree, Pastor, we do want people interacting in Sunday School,” I replied, “and I think I know why so many teachers lecture and where the problem lies. Pastor, you are the problem.” Now at this point I was going to have some fun or many regrets! Pastor grinned and said, “All right, tell me more.” I then explained that it was really a compliment to him. He was such a great Bible teacher, a wonderful communicator of truth, and so passionate about the Word of God that all the teachers wanted to be like him. When teachers hear the Word proclaimed, they most always hear it preached from the pulpit. Unconsciously their mind is conditioned that preaching or lecturing is the way to do it. They mimic that style in their Sunday School class. We must be careful that we do not turn Sunday School into an age-division worship service. Sunday School is to be distinctly different from a worship service.
As we involve people, not only do they learn more effectively, but their retention rate increases as well. Retention is a by-product of concentration. Therefore, teachers cannot afford to let class members sit on the sidelines each week and watch the teacher play the game. They must be engaged in the game with the teacher. Members discovering truth are involved; involvement produces concentration; concentration produces retention; retention means they have grasped a truth. They are positioned to obey because they understand. It is shameful for the teacher to take “the word of God [which] is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12) and render it dead, weak, and duller than a butter knife to the unengaged member.
Taylor, Allan (2009-06-01). Sunday School in HD: Sharpening the Focus on What Makes Your Church Healthy (pp. 65-68). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.