I guess the first question we must ask is, “What defines effective Sunday School teaching?” If we asked 100 different people, we would probably get 100 slightly different answers. I would imagine for most of us though, we would consider ourselves effective if we made a positive difference in the spiritual foundation building of our students.
We sometime allow ourselves to forget the purposes of Sunday School (or any Bible class for that matter). Initially, Sunday School was created (educated guess, I grant you) to assist parents in teaching their children about God and what He wanted for them and from them. It was an opportunity to reinforce what the parents were already teaching at home. If done really well, it also provided additional practice in Christian Life Skills, teaching areas of the Bible not yet taught at home and more.
Unfortunately, in today’s world, the spiritual training and foundation building many children receive only happens within the walls of their Sunday School or Bible classroom. While teachers can’t replace parents, they can at least give their students some of the tools they will need to live the lives God wants them to live. It’s a much more challenging ministry than it may have been 50 years ago.
Throughout time though, one thing remains consistent. To be truly effective in helping students grow spiritually, any Bible class or Sunday School teacher needs one essential quality. What is that all important characteristic?
The effective teacher – effective Christian for that matter – needs to be absolutely, whole heartedly passionate about helping as many people as possible become strong, productive Christians. He or she must care to the point of real emotion that all of the people he or she encounters – especially students – go to Heaven in the end.
Because you see, if a teacher has a passion for God and the mission He has given him or her, everything else falls into place rather easily. Love students – absolutely, Treat students with kindness and empathy – naturally. Set fair and consistent boundaries and enforce them – without a doubt. Find ways to teach God’s commands and principles so students not only understand them, but also remember them and are capable of putting them into practice in their daily lives – top priority. Willing to put a great amount of time and energy into preparation – please don’t distract them from their mission.
Unfortunately, Many Sunday School teachers have more passion for their favorite restaurant than they do for helping their students develop strong spiritual foundations. If you are a teacher, who has lost your passion (or never really had any) for helping your students build strong spiritual foundations, please do what you need to do to capture that passion. If you are recruiting teachers, look for those people with a passion for helping people get to Heaven. The rest can usually be taught. Show me a passionate Sunday School teacher and I will show you a group of children who are really learning about God.
P.S. If you ever find yourself on a minister search committee (pulpit, youth, children’s, etc.), look for that passion for the lost and helping them become strong, productive Christians. I don’t care how well educated they are, how experienced, how creative or anything else they are. If the passion is not there, they won’t accomplish what you hopefully want them to accomplish. Don’t hire people who aren’t passionate!