Archive for teaching

Add a New Teaching Method This Week

clayWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Jesus is our example. He used a variety of teaching methods on purpose. Message and context make a lot of difference.

The same is true today. Group members learn in a variety of ways. When we use teaching methods that address their preferred learning styles, their attention and retention increase. Both are essential for us to be effective in “teaching them to obey” (Matthew 28:20). In addition, some methods just naturally communicate the truth of God’s Word best.

WHAT DO I DO? Allow me to share some practical steps out of my experience:

  1. Discover your own learning styles by taking an inventory. Here are three samples: Learning Style Inventory, Got Style, and Learning Style Inventory.
  2. Allow class time for your group to take an inventory. (Print one.)
  3. After class, look through the results. Identify the top 2 learning style preferences for each person. Expect a lot of variety. Compare their styles with yours.
  4. Prepare to add one new method (which address their learning styles) to your normal routine.
  5. To choose wisely, consider which method best communicates the truth of God’s Word to learners with their preferred learning styles. (Good curriculum will offer many choices of methods.)
  6. Plan to use the “new” method in small doses (maybe 5 minutes) each week for a month to watch for response and build acceptance.
  7. Then try a “new” method the next month and two new methods in the third month. Increase amount of time for methods receiving the most positive response.

Measure and Reward What You Want to Accomplish

measuringWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? What you believe about Sunday School (primary purpose; why it exists) determines how you see Sunday School (what it is or does). How you see Sunday School determines how you lead Sunday School (focus or emphasis) and how you measure it’s success.

WHAT DO I DO?  Which of these purposes is most descriptive of your group?

  1. If the primary purpose of Sunday School is teaching, then you will see Sunday School primarily as a group with members primarily as students. You will emphasize attending the study event.  The key measures of success will be how many show up and did we get through the lesson.
  2. If the primary purpose of Sunday School is friendship and fellowship, then your focus will be on community. You will lead your Sunday School to establish and build relationships.  The key measure of success will be having a good group experience.
  3. If the primary purpose of Sunday School is care and support, then you will focus on service and helping with your members as ministers. You will emphasize praying for each other and supporting each other.  The key measure of success will be meeting needs of group members.
  4. If the primary purpose of Sunday School is outreach and missions, then you will be a team of people on mission with God and your members will be missionaries. You will lead in equipping members to live on a mission field and be engaged in missions and outreach events.  The key measure of success will be lives being saved, reached, and changed.

A church can do Sunday School for many reasons. Make a decision to frefocus on the primary purpose of Sunday School:  life change. Teaching the Bible, building relationships, and caring for people are not the primary goal of Sunday School—these are done in order to bring people into a personal encounter with Jesus. He is the one who can change their lives here and for eternity and grow them to serve Him in their daily lives and relationships. Measure and reward what our Lord wants your group to accomplish!

Teach Dynamically

VERSE:  Whcreativeteachingatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. Colossians 3:23, ESV

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? According to one of the definitions for dynamic (dy·nam·ic) is “marked by usually continuous and productive activity or change.”  In the Christian realm, I think that most of us desire for our relationship with God to be dynamic in the sense that we want to be in a continuous state of growing in our relationship with him – which would often produce activity and change.  So it is important that this carries over into our teaching time on Sundays, Wednesdays, or whenever we are teaching at church.

WHAT DO I DO? As I began to think of the topic of teaching dynamically and the definition above, several key thoughts and actions came to mind:

  • Spend time in God’s word on a daily basis
  • Pray for God’s directions, for your class time, for the kids in your class and their families.
  • Prepare.  Take time to prepare to teach God’s word and to share the Greatest story ever
  • Develop relationships with your group members. Get to know them.  They are all created in his image.
  • Take advantage of training opportunities.
  • Choose to take time to teach creatively to different learning styles.

What would you add to this list to have a dynamic teaching time?

Maria Brannen has served as a State Missionary with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board since 1998 and is a Kids Groups and Faith Development Consultant. Prior to that, she served on church staff in Georgia and Texas. She has produced multiple resources including Bible Drill Devotional Books, Youth Bible Drill Leader’s Guides and a Bible Drill app in the iTunes store.  Connect with Maria at,    
or . Maria’s e-mail is

3 Ideas to Get More from the Bible

3ideasWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10, NKJV).

Ezra provided us with a great model, not only as a teacher of God’s Word, but also for the hearer. This short verse, tucked away in the Old Testament, provides us with three ideas to get more from reading and studying the Bible.

WHAT DO I DO? If you’re a Bible study teacher, Ezra’s example reminds you to…

  1. Prepare your heart as you seek God’s will;
  2. Obey God; and
  3. THEN you teach God’s Word.

The Bible is meant to be obeyed. Teacher, as you prepare to teach each week, be sure your preparation includes a desire to know God’s will, not only for your hearers, but also for you own life. Like Ezra, you must be willing to obey what God says in His Word, before you stand before your class/group and teach. As you prepare your heart and seek God’s will, you will get more from the Bible as you obey and make necessary changes in your own life.

If you’re a student in a Sunday School class or in a small group, then you too must be willing to approach Bible study with a seeking heart, sincerely wanting to know God’s will. Then, be willing to obey what God is teaching you.

Using a Teaching Style Different from Your Natural Preference

creativeWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Most teachers will teach the same way this Sunday that they taught last Sunday.  They will teach the same way the next Sunday that they taught this Sunday.  Why? Because that’s how they teach.

But how did Jesus teach?  Did he teach the same way every time? What kinds of methods did Jesus use?  Shouldn’t all of us want to teach the way that Jesus taught?

WHAT DO I DO? Intentionally plan a lesson each month using a teaching style different from your natural preference.  Consider studying these three topics:

  1. Examine how Jesus taught. As you read the Gospels, identify the methods that Jesus used.  Bruce Wilkinson in Teaching the Jesus Way said that when he determined that Jesus rarely used the same method. His teaching was different every time based on the outcome that he desired and the audience that he taught.
  2. Study how people learn.  Most groups will have people who prefer to learn differently from how the teacher teaches.  The Eight Learning Approaches are: Physical, Verbal, Visual, Musical, Natural, Relational, Logical, and Reflective.
  3. Read a book on teaching.  Your teaching style will determine the likely learning outcome of your lesson.  A good book is TEACHER: Creating Conversational Communities.

My favorite definition of teaching is: Teaching is creating an experience in which a person changes in some lasting way his knowledge, understanding, attitude, skills or values. So get creative and teach a lesson each month different from your natural teaching preference.