“The preacher because he was wise sought out and set in order many proverbs.” The importance of specific and careful preparation of every Sunday School lesson cannot be overlooked.
There are many lesson aids and manuals available and in use today; while most of these are helpful, the teacher must learn how to use them in order to make them effective.
In beginning the specific study of a lesson, one should determine the divine truth to be emphasized. In a lesson on David’s deliverance recorded in 1 Samuel 17, emphasis should be given to the fact that Christ is a greater deliverer from a greater foe than Goliath. Our presentation should be planned to accomplish this purpose.
We must consider the subject for the lesson carefully, and prepare an approach by methods which will appeal to the children. The Scripture text should be read fully to include the complete context. The lesson aids may then be read and the important points memorized.
Finally, in our study we should make the lesson a part of ourselves. It should be so absorbed that the original words and expressions become part of our own thinking. Then it will be spoken in our own vocabulary, developed especially for the children.
Many speakers outline their speeches in order to present them orderly, logically, and in accordance with the predetermined plan. This practice will be helpful for the Sunday School teacher. An outline should be brief, containing in order short statements which suggest the logical order.
The specific truth to be taught should be developed in the light of the knowledge and experience of the children. Expressions should be used which convey most accurately the lesson to the class.
Each significant statement should be supported by Scripture correctly quoted, with chapter and verse. This presentation of the living Word of God takes the truth out of the realm of “Teacher says so” to “God says so.” This makes a most important impression upon the children.
The presentation of the lesson to the children should be interesting enough to capture their attention. Attention is more than silence, more than hearing, or looking. Attention requires the giving of self, the application of the mind in order to perceive. Illustrations, adventures, the desire to win a prize or recognition, and the promise of other types of rewards are all forces which influence children to listen.
It is beneficial to plan an introduction that quickly catches the imagination. This is what should be placed in our preparation and outline.
It is easy to sell to those who want to buy, and it is easy to teach those who want to learn. The problem is to teach those who have no interest, and this is usually the case in the Sunday School. It was indicated that there should be at the opening an interesting statement to arrest the attention. Before this opening there should be a call for attention, a looking for order, and an item to arouse the interest and curiosity. The first statement should be made so that all can hear. It may be a question, a promise, or a recitation of the memory verse.
Repeating the memory verse in unison with the children, and then calling for volunteers to recite it alone is an excellent way to fix it upon the mind. As the lesson unfolds, the teacher will explain the meaning of the verse and its place in the lesson. At any sign of unrest, the verse can be repeated, and someone asked to recite it from memory.
Having launched the lesson successfully, the teacher must simply and earnestly with proper emphasis tell the lesson story. The old hymn says:
“Tell me the story simply,
As to a little child.
Tell me the story slowly,
That I may take it in.”
We must use words which the children understand, and illustrations from those things he sees everyday. Our facial expressions and our voices should convey the feelings of the lesson story: sadness, happiness, concern, anger, tenderness, and love. Anyone who ever has attended a Sunday School class, and has listened to a teacher telling, with tears, about the sufferings of the Lord Jesus on the cross, can never forget the lesson or the effect it had upon the children. Even the most rowdy class of boys will melt at the sight and the sound of a lesson taught in such a manner.
Questions usually test the knowledge of the child. They can also encourage the children to participate in the lesson; this, because of the desire for approval. Questions should be asked about important points, and comments made. This procedure will command attention and interest, preparing the children for fuller explanations. Questions should provoke thought rather than answers merely by rote.
A review of previous lessons can provide continuity, and at the same time provide the opportunity to repeat the truths already covered. Repetition is a basic method of study to fix knowledge in the mind. Without reviews, things once known can be easily forgotten.
Influence and Love
The influence of a teacher is another very important factor. Influence produces an effect without apparent force or authority. Prestige arises from the position of a higher station. To possess prestige and to exert influence one must behave in a manner that will create respect for the teacher and reverence for the Word of God. A good influence causes the children to recognize the teacher as someone in authority; it produces the desire to do what is asked. By it the teacher expresses his love, and it enables him to be more persuasive in winning young souls to Christ. Christian influence is formed within the heart and upon the personality by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Finally, and most important, is the expression of real love for the children. This cannot be feigned; it must be real; the kind of love that moves to compassion when the heart realizes that each little person in the class has a soul that will live forever. Christian love is an avenue through which the love of Christ shines, and through which the message of divine love in the cross of Christ becomes powerful. The teacher’s prestige, influence, and love should be manifest in every lesson period.
Some may feel that they would like to be a teacher just like the one discussed in this paper, but, sensing their own inability wonder how this could be brought about. The Scriptures state: All things are possible to them that believe. Dale Carnegie said in his famous book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,”: “If you really want to achieve a higher station in life, start tomorrow morning to live and act as though you had already reached the higher position, and eventually you will acquire the ability and confidence needed.” With the help of the Lord and with a true desire and determination, let all start at once toward the objective of teaching effectively in our class and of winning young hearts for the Lord Jesus.