If attenders are asleep, they won’t learn much. If they are not interested, they won’t learn much. If the lesson does not “feel” like it applies to them, they will learn less. They are less likely to learn if they are bored or if their attention is not in the room. When the same teaching method is used week after week, they will be less likely to listen or learn. If learners are not involved in the class, they will learn less.
Marlene Lefever wrote an interesting article entitled 38 Ways to Wake Up Your Class. In the article, she offers suggestions for generating interest and excitement about learning in Sunday School. In Part 1, I will share the first ten of her suggestions in all capitals followed by my commentary. Consider which of these ways you could use with your class this week:
- STUDY THE PASSAGE YOU WILL TEACH AT YOUR OWN LEVEL BEFORE YOU PREPARE TO TEACH IT. This is important. Seek an encounter with God in personal Bible study of the passage before you prepare to teach it. Apply it to your life. Listen to God’s still small voice. Then the lesson can be personal testimony as well as inspiration for you to lead your students to have a similar experience. Lefever also made a good suggestion to read the passage in multiple translations.
- HAVE STUDENTS BREAK UP INTO SMALL GROUPS, THEN STUDY A SHORT PASSAGE AND COME UP WITH THREE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PASSAGE. Breaking into groups adds interest and buzz. It increases involvement. If the groups have 6 or fewer learners in them, almost everyone in class will participate. Make assignments. I like Lefever’s suggestion for the groups: ” come up with three questions.” This lead them to think differently. Lefever’s suggestions about questions types are excellent: One question might be structured for the person who is a seeker, not yet a Christian. Another might deal with how this section fits into the redemption story. A third might be life-related, something on how this verse helps Christians live their lives today.
- USE EXPRESSION WHEN YOU READ THE BIBLE ALOUD TO THE CLASS. Make God’s Word sound as exciting as it really is. Teach attenders to do the same. (See the ninth suggestion below for another idea for adding expression.)
- ENCOURAGE CONTROLLED NOISE! Get attenders involved. Get them talking. Use icebreakers (check out Five Suggestions for Using Icebreakers Well in Sunday School/Small Groups and Using Icebreakers Purposefully in Sunday School/Small Groups). Ask open-ened questions.
- AFFIRM SILENCE. This is important for learning. Some of us prefer time to process questions before responding. Allow silence, and eventually learners will respond. The teacher must resist responding too soon (or at all).
- PROVIDE COMFORTABLE SEATING. If they are uncomfortable, they will not be able to pay attention. Some with certain physical conditions cannot attend Sunday School unless chairs have arms out of which to push themselves.
- SIMPLE INDUCTIVE BIBLE STUDY GETS YOUTH AND ADULTS STUDYING GOD’S WORD FOR THEMSELVES. I like Lefever’s suggestion, “For John 3:16, the assignment could be, ‘Record everything you can know or assume about God from this verse.’ When students have shared their findings, encourage them to corroborate what they fo und w ith other scriptures.” Get them to study God’s Word for themselves. Don’t do it all for them!
- ASK STUDENTS TO CLOSE THEIR EYES AS YOU READ SCRIPTURE TO THEM. For some, closing their eyes will lead them to listen and think more deeply. Some will be able to “see” it better. It will bring out the best of some learners’ visual learning style preference.
- ARRANGE A SECTION OF SCRIPTURE AS YOU WOULD A CHORAL PIECE–WITH SOLOS, DUETS, TRIOS, CHORUSES, ETC.–BUT HAVE STUDENTS READ ALOUD INSTEAD OF SINGING. This increases participation. It helps them to hear different things. It helps them to listen (and hopefully apply) in a fresh way.
- INCLUDE METHODS THAT ALLOW AUDITORY, VISUAL, AND KINESTHETIC STUDENTS TO SUCCEED. Discover the learning style preferences of attenders. Then, use a variety of teaching methods to address those preferences. But use them purposefully to best address the truth of the passage. Seek their involvement. Help them to learn as they learn best.
In Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4, twenty-eight more of Lefever’s suggestions will be shared. Make the Bible study session exciting! Get learners involved. Shake them out of their boredom! Capture their attention. Teach them to listen and apply. Be revolutionary.