Making Quality Changes In Our Sunday Schools
By Rodney L. Pry, P.S.S.S.A. Executive Director
I recently read an article that was very critical of the tourist industry because of their efforts to increase tourism with promotions and gimmicks rather than working for substantive changes such as lower hotel prices and better quality roads. As I read this article, I got to thinking that such an editorial could also be written about many Sunday schools and their efforts to increase attendance. Many times we try to use promotions and gimmicks rather than making quality changes in the Sunday school itself.
Although there are many things our Sunday schools could do to improve the quality of their program and their teaching ministries, we all have to realize that we can’t just make big changes in our Sunday schools overnight. Quality changes take time and will come slowly.
When I started to think about this, I sat down and made a list of some of the changes that I would like to see Sunday schools make. This list is not in any kind of order of importance and it is certainly not meant to be complete. But, just the same, please consider the list with an open mind. Anything that we can do to improve our Sunday school and its program will help our Sunday school grow, to the glory of God! Here are just a few suggestions:
Keep the opening devotional session short. Make sure the hymns and scriptures are tied to the lesson theme. The Sunday school opening is not meant to be a “mini-worship service.” It should complement the lesson and help prepare your members for the study to follow. Remember too, the devotions do not have to be done as a combined group. Individual class devotions can be as good as or better than a combined opening because they can focus on their particular lesson theme to come.
Make the opening devotional session appropriate for the age of the group. Have separate opening sessions for the children, youth and adults. With songs, stories, prayers and scripture readings suited for their age level, the opening will be much more meaningful and do much more to prepare the children or youth for their class time.
Make sure all classrooms are conducive for learning. Rooms should be well lighted and attractive. There should be posters or other decorations to remind the students of where they are and what they should be doing. There should be tables for children and youth to work on. Other classes should have chairs arranged in a circle. And very important, make sure children’s chairs are the right size to fit their bodies.
Be sure teachers are continually growing in the knowledge of God’s Word and in ways to teach it. REQUIRE teachers to attend regular training workshops. Encourage them to read Christian books and magazines. Have monthly teachers’ meetings.
Ask each teacher to evaluate themselves and the methods that they are using to teach. As for teaching methods, here are several notes: Be sure you always lead each lesson to a conclusion and a way of applying the lesson to live during the week ahead, even if the full lesson was not covered. Make sure you include time for discussion and questions with each week’s lesson plan. Vary your presentation style. Use audio-visuals when appropriate. Ask questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer. Don’t require students to read in front of the class. If you have persons reading scripture verses or lesson passages, ask for volunteers. Have a definite time for closing with a prayer for each lesson.