What Is Effective Sunday School Teaching?

I’m a children’s pastor. My job is making things plain for kids. Children’s ministry is the easiest AND the hardest job in the church. It’s easy because most kids want to learn. They want to know. Ideas become adventures. It’s hard because children are limited. They don’t know grown-up words. They’ve only lived a little while. They get lost in abstraction.

With this post I’m beginning a series on effective teaching. Please understand – I am still learning how to be effective. Everything I know has come by accident or from others. In fact, that’s one reason I want to write this series. I want to learn together with you. Will you join me? Can we talk? Comments are open. Your ideas will help, not just me, but all the readers.

So, let’s begin with a definition: Effective teaching changes people.

I could write more, but this is the main thing. When I face my kids this Sunday, I want to help them change. I want them to grow.

1. Effective teaching changes the way people think. Learning that God made me for his glory changes the way I think about life. I want our kids to understand life from God’s angle. Learning is more than knowing, but never less.

2. Effective teaching changes the way people feel. Learning about the cross changes my feelings toward Jesus. I want my children to love Him too. Attitude fuels change.

3. Effective teaching changes what people do. Learning the golden rule changes the way I treat people. I want our kids to act different. Learning is more than behavior, but you CAN tell a tree by its fruit.

So, what do you think? How would you define effective teaching?


Comments

  1. mimsy says

    Hi Irene, Me too. Its a challenge isn’t it?
    For the littlies the most important message is God made them and God loves them. That they spend a comftable hour in childrens church and leave with that message filling their hearts is the main thing. toddler bibles, play sets which can be used to act out stories and classic songs (jesus loves me)are all good. age and stage appropriate expectations are important. litlle ones wont sit and be quiet for a whole session.
    children with developing literacey and those with mastery, can work together peer support to read directly from their own bibles, any scripture you choose. i always do either an object lesson or have props that can be handled, or an activity/craft that supports the message/Word shared to over all learning styles.
    Songs are great- having worship in your kids class is a good idea- music makes scripture so much easier to memorise. if you dont mind busting out some dance moves, you can add actions to help memorise.
    the verybest thing is get a couple of volunteers to rotate to be little kid support. their job is just the little ones- you can share a space- have a littlies end and big kids end.this also allows kids the comfort of older siblings and family friends.
    keep up the good work. its a balancing act,but simple is good.
    Bless you.

  2. Barbie Clay says

    Tony,

    Thanks for putting this out there for us to be more aware of. I think sometimes we get so caught up in the norm that it becomes like an old habit. We have discussed these types of things even in our practices during Worship service. You have to put things on a level that all can appreciate and understand and make it exciting.

    We take so many things for granted because we supposedly know what we are supposed to be teaching that we lose some things in the translation between what we say and what we really mean (I know sometimes that happens to me) and then when you look at the faces of the kids you are to be teaching and they have this “huh” look on their face, then you know that it was above their level of comprehension, so you need to get back to the basics of things.

    You have to feel it and love it in order to teach and appreciate it; that’s my philosophy anyway.

  3. Irene says

    Hi Tony

    Thanks for the info. on being an effective teacher. I teach children’s from about 3 years old to 11 years old and I have helpers who are 12 and 13 years old. I find it hard to teach all the kids at their level. Do you have any ideas how I can be effective with reaching all the age groups all at once? I have 10 to 15 students each week.

    Thanks.

  4. coleen mandean says

    Thanks Tony…….so relevant, and I think allm of us in the childrens ministry need to know what “effective” teaching is. Some of the workers
    think if you can tell an story, thats it, buit its so much more than that, and the more we equip ourselves, the more we can teach the kids, and also get results which can help us build this ministry…as someone said its easy, but yet its hardwork. Here in South Africa people don’t really want to get involved in the childrens ministry, and its a struggle. In our ministry we have +- 90 kids with 4 experienced teachers. Tony thanks again, then topics are a great help.

  5. carmen says

    i really want to be a ss teacher but are very scrared what will the teacher think of me and the kids as well. please help me in to doing work for god what i always wanted to do im going to start this sunday but dont know where to start

  6. Manal says

    I think effective teaching requires….Passionate teachers…. To be passionate you have to be full of the Holy Spirit… to do that you have to pray with passion for all your students. For God to give you grace in their eyes.
    All Sunday school teachers need to let God’s light shine and there shadow will be all they need to be effective.

  7. Rahida says

    Hi Tony,
    Thank you for the tips. I am one of the kidsclub leader of my church.
    Most of the parents of my children are not christian and are not going to church. So we have to teach these children everything, such as bowing their heads, close their eyes and be still and every week (saturday) we have to learn them the same things some of them tells me they cannot close there eyes, they cannot stand still, they are laughing when we as leader close our eyes bow our haeds and are praying. I join this kidsclub in february this year. I do not see progress, I was in another church and it was the opposite most of the parents of those children were/are christian and it was easier to teach them the bible and to learn them to pray.

    Do you have tips for me?

    • michèle says

      I KNOW I´M LATE,BUT JUST SAW THIS PAGE, SO MAYBE YOU´LL NEED SOME ADVICE. I USED TO DO SS FOR OVER 10 YEARS AND WENT THROUGH THE SAME EXPERIENCE AS YOU DID OR DO.
      EVEN IN A VERY CATHOLIC COUNTRY AS SPAIN, NONE OF THE PARENTS WHOSE KIDS WHERE IN MY GROUP EVER WENT TO CHURCH NOR PARTICIPATED IN ANY ACTIVITY, BUT I SIMPLY REFUSED TO DESPAIR. I NEVER TOLD THEM THEY MUST COME TO CHURCH, I JUST GAVE OUT SMALL INVITATIONS AND TRIED HARD TO MAKE SS AS SIMPLE BUT ALSO AS INTERESTING AS POSSIBLE. ESPECIALLY KIDS FROM A NON CHRISTIAN HOME OR FROM A SUPERFICIAL RELIGIOUS BACKGROUND (YOU GO TO CHURCH, TO SAY YOUR PRAYERS, BUT NO BIBLE, NO SCRIPTURES, NO HOLY SPIRIT) NEED US, BELIEVE ME. I ALSO HAD TO REPEAT THINGS OVER AND OVER AGAIN, BUT IN THE END I KNEW OUR SS SURROUNDING WAS THE THING THEY NEEDED.. WHEN I LEFT ONE OF MY KIDS SAID TO ME: DO YOU KNOW WHY I COME HERE SO EARLY BEFORE CLASS? WELL, BECAUSE I FEEL AT HOME HERE. THAT´S WHEN I KNEW, NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES, IN THE END SOMETHING STAYS IN THESE KIDS..

  8. Rosie Martinez says

    Thank you Tony for providing this tool. I’m leading Kids Church and wanted some new ideas about training new and old SS teachers. This is such a blessing!

  9. TAMARA NAZAL says

    I am the director of the childrens ministry of a very new and very small church. I am having a workshop for servants for the nursery, preschool and elementary teachers and asst. I have been praying God brings servants with a servant heart to serve in these areas. I am doing this workshop to train and teach these teachers how to become a more effective teacher.

  10. says

    Glen,
    Your comments are almost always better than my post! Thanks. When I first read Howard Hendricks on teaching a light bulb lit up in my mind – oh that is what I’ve been trying to do. As I continue this series (I have about 20 ideas for posts) you’ll see a lot of Hendricks influence.

  11. says

    Thanks for the topic, Tony. Once again you have written a post which gets me thinking. I appreciate that!

    Effective teaching, in my view, can involve many things and I think you have done a nice job of bringing to light the cognitive, affective and psychomotor learning domains, or as they say in many of the education texts: Know, Feel, Do. The first thing that comes to my mind is Howard Hendricks phrase: “Causing students to learn.” This involves removing obstacles to learning and creating an environment which engages them in the three domains of learning as you so helpfully layed out above. Of course, this is a truth in tension with the responsibility each learner has to engage in the teaching/learning process. However, an effective teacher brings out the best in each student by identifying what motivates them (their learning styles/backgrounds/interests/capabilities/challenges) and crafting lesson plans which cause them to interact willingly with the material based on their level of development and their arenas of interest. This is true for teaching any age level, although there are unique challenges and opportunities with adult learning. Anyway, thanks for the opportunity to share!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] 2. Teach for Heart Change: Educators call this the affective domain or emotional learning. When our teaching only targets the cognitive domain, we can miss the heart. Over-churched kids need transformational learning that can move their attitudes and values. This is at the core of effective Sunday School teaching. [...]

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