What is the worst method of teaching that you can use? I often ask conferees that question when I am leading an Adult Sunday School teacher’s workshop. Usually someone is quick to answer – “Lecturing!” Sometimes the answer is “reading directly from the pupil’s book!” However, both of those answers are wrong. So what is the worst teaching method you can use? The answer, of course is…”the one you use all the time!”
No two people learn in exactly the same way. Therefore our teaching needs to address their learning styles. However, we usually are most comfortable teaching using the same method that we learn best from. So, someone who is an auditory learner usually is most comfortable with lecture or discussion questions. A visual learner enjoys using multimedia presentations, pictures, graphs, charts and other visual aids. Kinesthetic learners like to touch and do through role play, drama, puzzles and art.
There are three significant steps that we need to accomplish each week in our Bible study teaching:
- Introduce the lesson and create interest
- Encounter God’s Word
- Bring Closure
However, in order to not get into a rut in our classroom, we need to use a variety of teaching methods each week to reach the variety of learning styles of our class members. Now, I know what many of you are going to say…“Bro. Mark, my class members don’t really like me to change things up. They like me to just lecture because they enjoy learning from what I have to say.” What I’m afraid you are saying is…”That’s a lot of work. I just don’t have time!” We get stuck in a rut and then wonder why our class members are not faithful in attending and why we are not reaching any new members.
Let me give you 8 simple steps to keep your class from getting stuck in a rut:
- Each week study the scriptures thoroughly. We cannot teach what we have not already experienced ourselves.
- Decide what you want to accomplish with the lesson. Make sure you plan your time and teaching methods accurately so as to finish the lesson on time. So often, we fail to get to the most important part of any Bible study lesson…the application! The “so what” of the lesson. Plan out your time and stick to your plan.
- Start your lesson preparations early. Don’t wait for the “Saturday night special!”
- Use your imagination. Vary your teaching methods and styles.
- Enlist people to help you. This gets the class involved, increases attendance and also takes a lot of work off your shoulders!
- Keep it simple!
- Don’t lose the message in the medium. Remember, we are teaching God’s Word.
- Don’t give up. If you try something new and it doesn’t work, don’t get discouraged. Thomas Edison, after another failed attempt at creating the light bulb said – “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Mark Donnell is the Sunday School/Discipleship specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention