This is article six of a ten part series. Click here to view the previous article.
Principle Three: Motivation
She entered my Sunday School class room quietly. It was evident that the morning had not gone as planned for her and her family. It could have been a fight with teenage kids or perhaps lunch preparation was more complicated than usual. It was evident that she was not ready for serious Bible study. She sat down in one of the three small groups of chairs and the two other ladies that were already seated welcomed her, and
they began talking. They helped her focus on the art supplies and written assignment placard that had been placed in their group that read, Make a list of characteristics you’d like your leader to have on an amazing trip around the world or to some potentially challenging place. Be the group with the longest list. They started joking about where they’d like to go, and who they’d like to lead, then they got down to business making the list of characteristics for a good trip leader. When the groups had finished their lists, I called on the teams to share their leadership characteristics, and we put their lists on the wall. It was fun, and I could tell that she had relaxed and become more focused. We began the Bible study about Joshua, the new leader who would lead Israel across the Jordan to Jericho.
This Motivational Activity had already accomplished several things in about 5-7 minutes.
- It involved learners as soon as the first ones entered the room.
- It connected learners in a small group in a non-threatening way that prepared them for Bible study.
- It helped them to become centered on the biblical truth of the session.
- It helped them “own the learning environment.” A best practice is to put something of the learners on the wall ASAP so that when they look around they can see their work or ideas being affirmed. They own the room.
I like to jump-start learning as soon as the first learners enter the Bible Study room. As I study my lesson, I prepare a session related motivational activity that leads into the biblical truth. I set up the room in small learning groups of 3-4 chairs. I place art supplies (construction paper and markers) in the center of each group with a written assignment placard with instructions for the motivational activity. The goal is to begin focusing the learner’s attention on the Bible truth to be covered in the session. The Motivation Activity should not be serious Bible study; they’re not ready for that yet. It should be a non-threatening activity that invites learners to share their opinion about something. The goal is to take all of the baggage the learners come with and slowly begin focusing their attention on the biblical truth.
By the time we finished this beginning activity, my class was motivated to dig in to the story of Joshua the leader and how they, too can discover ways that they can be leaders.
Phil Stone is the State Sunday School Director for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.