The Sunday School Teacher

Topic: The Sunday school teacher has many responsibilities, duties, and requirements in his job description, but none are greater than being a discipler, teacher, and leader.

The SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER has many responsibilities and duties, but none are more important than knowing how to changes lives through your teaching.


The Sunday school teacher's job description: Transformation

As a Sunday school teacher, you never really know how much of an impact you are having on others until they become a little vulnerable and tell you something like this: “You know, I was going to get a divorce, but what you said made a lot of sense, and I’ve decided to work through it.” Individuals rarely admit such near misses, but when they do, it gives you a glimpse of the importance of your responsibility as a Sunday school teacher.

We all know people change because God is at work in them. We realize the truths we share are not our own, but God’s. Nevertheless, God has chosen to work through us as we teach His Word, but what happens when it doesn’t feel like our teaching role is making a difference in people’s lives?

I remember one teacher spent several months teaching through a particular study. Then, a few months after the series concluded, several who attended the Bible study chose to do the exact opposite of what the Sunday school teacher had just spent several months teaching.

You talk about discouraging; that was really discouraging for him. Upon reflection, he said,

I feel like they understood what I said, and I tried to be as clear, thorough, biblically oriented, and practical as possible. Why, then, did they choose to do the opposite? I guess the saying is true: you can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink. Or, from a Sunday school teacher’s perspective, you can tell listeners what the Bible says, but you can’t make them obey.


The Sunday school teacher: role and responsibility

  1. For “Teaching Tom,” the Sunday school teacher's role centers around information and explanation
  2. After a few experiences like this, it is easy to develop a teaching philosophy that says, “My goal as a teacher is to explain the text and show how we can apply it to our lives. However, it is my listeners’ responsibility to listen, ask any clarifying questions, and obey.”

    Actually, I had a teacher tell me something similar to this. I’ll refer to him as “Teaching Tom.” Teaching Tom said to me, “My responsibility as a Sunday school teacher is to explain the text and show how we can apply it to our lives; however, what my listeners do with that information is their responsibility.” He concluded his responsibility began and ended with the lesson. What took place outside of that hour had little impact or bearing on his own teaching style or methodology. In short, his goal focused on information, explanation, and presentation.

  3. For Jesus, the Sunday school teacher's goal is transformation
  4. Teaching Tom’s philosophy may initially sound right, but is it biblically accurate, especially in light of verses such as Matthew 28:18–20?

    Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." — Matthew 28:18-20

    In Matthew 28:19–20, Jesus gives teachers a clear and concise teaching goal: “Therefore go and make disciples … teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” He does not say to teach people what to obey or even how to obey; rather, Jesus says, “make disciples…teaching them to obey.” As a result, Jesus makes life-altering transformation (not simply information or explanation) our primary teaching goal.


>> To learn more about how to be an effective Sunday school teacher, see chapter 1 in Teaching to Transform Not Inform 1: Foundational Principles for Making an Informational Sunday School Lesson...TRANSFORMATIONAL.

The Teaching To Transform Not Inform series focuses on showing you how to turn informationally or educationally oriented Bible lessons into life- altering transformational ones. You will learn how to teach not only the head but also the heart, which results in changed lives.

The Sunday school teacher's goal: Information and Explanation are foundational to our teaching, but transformation is the goal.

Jesus makes life-altering transformation (not simply information and explanation) the Sunday school teacher's primary goal.


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More links on the Sunday school teacher:

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