Preparing the Lesson
Are you a Sunday School teacher who will permit social and secular activity to crowd out that which is spiritual? As the hour of gathering approaches, do you sometimes become flustered and exclaim, “O Dear! I have forgotten about my class! What is the lesson story, and where is the Scripture passage?”
Then follows a hasty search for the Lesson Manual. “Let’s see; where did I put that thing when I came home last Sunday?” A few fleeting glances are taken at the pages, while you are in the car on the way to school. During opening exercises a frantic effort is made to cram into the mind some details of the story and a heading or two.
The result is a miserable day for all concerned. The children are restless and do not listen to what is being said. The teacher, frustrated, becomes short-tempered and likely picks up a throbbing headache to boot.
Honestly, now; is this the way to do the work of the Lord? Is this serving Him with the whole heart? At the Judgment Seat of Christ, could you expect to receive a reward for that sort of thing, or to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant?”
By contrast, when your subject is well prepared beforehand, you are able to greet the children with a smile as they enter the class. You have time to discuss their little problems with them and you face the lesson period with calm confidence. You are ready to teach and the children are eager to listen.
Would you like some helpful suggestions for the preparation of your lesson? That is the purpose of this article, and we will consider the topic under three main headings.
Choosing the Subject
The preparation of every lesson should commence with the knees bowed in prayer. Enter into the presence of the Lord with an open mind and, as you quietly wait on Him, He will burden your heart with a message to meet the need as He knows it.
Many Sunday Schools now use a lesson manual, so that the teacher has the subject selected beforehand. Even where this is the case, pray that the Lord will direct your mind into original thoughts and avenues of approach.
Lesson outlines should be used to assist you in your personal study and to provide added information about the lesson, the characters and the places mentioned.
Never try to use another person’s material in its entirety or you will find yourself in the position of David wearing Saul’s armour. He felt more confidence in God when he went forth to meet Goliath with the five stones which he himself had gathered.
Where uniform lessons are not used by the Sunday School, the teacher may find definite advantages in following some line of consecutive study. This enables a week-by-week review and the truths of the previous Sunday form an introduction to the new subject. Make your impressions through frequent repetition and the Word will not soon be forgotten by the children.
It is well to keep the pace moving rather rapidly from week to week, where consecutive study is being used. Otherwise the children may lose interest. It took Moses forty years to lead the children of Israel through the wilderness, and many of them became discouraged before the end of the journey.
Collecting the Material
Having settled upon a lesson topic, the second important step is the gathering of material relative to the subject.
The first source of supply, obviously, is the Bible itself. Carefully and prayerfully read the passages that have to do with the lesson. Become thoroughly acquainted with each word, and be on the lookout for thought-suggesting expressions.
Read that which precedes and that which follows, to get a better grasp of the setting. Consult other passages of Scripture where the characters, places or events may be mentioned. For example, Stephen’s discourse in Acts 7 sheds light on the incident of Moses going out unto his brethren.
A Bible Dictionary, Concordance and reliable books and commentaries will provide added information to give a clearer mental image of the action of the lesson and the background to the story.
Constructing the Lesson
Having gathered as much material as possible, the next important step is to sort it out and to set it in order. From all the thoughts and suggestions that you have gleaned, select those which will have a direct bearing on your lesson and omit all that is not relative.
Do not feel that you must use all your subject matter. Glean as much as possible, but use only that which has a direct bearing on that point of the lesson which you are trying to drive home to the heart.
Set out your thoughts in consecutive order so that you may deal with one idea and then move progressively to the next, working steadily toward the ultimate goal. Such an outline will prevent you from wandering in circles or going aimlessly through the lesson.
Have one definite truth which your lesson is to present and work toward that object. Make a short pointed application so closely related to the lesson as you have taught it that the truth will be obvious to the minds of the children.
Having prepared your lesson, pray over it again that God will use it for His glory and the blessing of the class. Go forward with your confidence in God, not in yourself or in your own achievement or preparation. He is a great God and is able to use for His own glory that which He has given through the study of His word. He will reward all that is done diligently and heartily unto the Lord.
“For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:7-8).