Oftentimes Sunday school teachers are very excited because they feel that they are doing their job (ministry) with great efficiency. But it has been rightfully said that efficiency is doing things right, but effectiveness is doing the right things. It is my hope that these principles will help us be more effective as Sunday school teachers.
Ministry Is Not a Burden
Sunday school is an hour that we are given to impact the lives of those whom God has entrusted to our watch care. At times it can seem burdensome because it is true that “Sunday is always coming.” There is preparation, there is calling, there is visitation, there are activities, and 101 other things that make up being an effective Sunday school teacher. Still, above all, it is a privilege and an honor.
We need to realize that God brings us into the lives of others so we can be difference-makers in their lives. Jim Elliott stated in his journal, “Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” Jim Elliot’s life continues to impact people over half a century after his homegoing.
The Product Is Often the Fruit of Preparation
There are a number of areas where the effective Sunday school teacher will be involved in preparation.
Our first preparation is our own hearts. The Bible states that out of the heart are the issues of life. When the heart is pure, the vision is clear. We need to make sure that our hearts are right so that we can be the right type of Sunday school teachers.
The second type of preparation is for our lessons. Thorough preparation allows one to teach out of the overflow. It is an uncomfortable situation when a teacher is trying to stretch information to “fill” the hour. When the teacher has learned new things and is excited about what he has learned, that excitement is always transferred to the listener, who then becomes a learner.
Thirdly, we must prepare our contacts. Be active in outreach. It has been said that we must reach people before we can teach people. To add great excitement to one’s Sunday school class in a very basic way, one needs only to have visitors present. This changes the dynamics of the class. People will get saved when visitors come and counselors are on hand. This affords an excitement that brings one out of the routine mentality. Then follow up with visitors and absentees. Who do we need to go back to see? Visit those who need care. This could be someone who has been ill or shut in, or someone with whom you just want to have a mentoring time. This could involve seeing people in hospitals, convalescent homes, those who are ill at home, or just taking time to maintain relationships. When was the last time we took someone from our Sunday school class out to lunch or for a coffee? People everywhere are hurting. The question is, will we stop and care for them?
We Are Servants
Mark 10:45 says, “…the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Sunday school is not about showing how much we know, but helping others to know more. It could be described as taking a newcomer down a path you have traversed many times. You would explain to them things that have been a blessing or a help to you, in hopes they will be a blessing and a help to them as well. It can be accurately said to the Sunday school teacher that Sunday school is not about us (the teachers) but it is all about them (the students).
The Lord Jesus Christ gave us the perfect illustration of being a minister when in John 13 He was willing to wash the feet of His own disciples. A good Sunday school teacher should ask himself on a weekly basis, “How have I ministered to or served my students this week?”