There are some strategies that separate a good teacher from a great one. While good teachers may impart some knowledge to their students, great teachers know how to teach so students not only retain information for a lifetime, but become passionate about the subject. As a Bible class volunteer teacher, you are totally capable of using these strategies in your classes – even if you don’t have a degree in education.
One of the most effective strategies for life changing classes is to learn the interests of your students and find ways to incorporate them into the curriculum. It may sound a little strange to learn that one of your students loves cars and that you need to find a way to connect that interest to the Bible. It requires a little creativity, but for that student, I would point out the various modes of transportation in the Bible and encourage that student to see how the different forms of transportation impacted the story. For example, the talking donkey in the story of Balaam wouldn’t have happened had he been walking. It’s even okay if the student points out that God would have made a car talk if they had them at the time! The point is to get students engaged with scripture and other aspects of Christianity.
Here are some great ways to connect student interests to Bible lessons, application lessons and ministry activities.
- Spark their interest in independent Bible reading and study. In our example of the student who loves cars, challenge him or her to find Bible stories that mention some mode of transportation. Does some of your students love to cook? Encourage them to find mentions of foods or meals in the Bible and learn how to cook some of them. Curiosity and interest are great motivators for beginning to study scripture more often and more thoroughly.
- Gift identification. The talents God gives your students to serve Him often match their interests. Find ways to help students find if their interests are clues to their gifts from God. Then help them develop and use those gifts to serve Him.
- Natural direction for independent service and faith sharing. People with similar interests tend to form communities to share ideas and resources. These communities involve people who need to be served and learn about God. Brainstorm with students creative ways to serve and share their faith in the communities of people in which their interests have taken them.
- Platform for discussing ethical dilemmas in various areas. Sometimes the interests of your students will become their fields of study and their careers. Every area of interest has ethical dilemmas – even if they revolve around lying, cheating or stealing. Have students find examples of how the commands of God you discuss in class might apply in their areas of interest. What are common ways people break those commands? How can they set a godly example – even if it makes them handle their area of interest very differently from others?
- Outreach activity ideas for your ministry. There are churches that have regular weekly devotionals that start with students participating in activities like playing board games or robotics that reflect an area of student interests. This makes it easy for them to reach out to their peers with similar interests. (Note: It’s important the adults remember the focus is on helping students become disciples of Christ and not just having the best game night or winning robot! If not, these weekly meetings will quickly become secular.)
It takes a little time to discover student interests, but even the process gives you opportunities to bond more closely with your students. It’s worth taking the extra time and effort.