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Teaching Sunday School Lessons

Topic: When teaching Sunday school lessons you must give information and explanation, but if life-change is your goal, you must also include application.

When teaching Sunday school lessons, incorporate the following principles:

  1. Explain the original meaning of the biblical text
  2. Clarify the text’s timeless truth
  3. Apply it to today’s culture
teaching Sunday school lessons without rambling

When teaching Sunday school lessons, first explain what the biblical text says, then demonstrate how it can be applied in today’s culture. You need both parts: explanation and application. It is not enough to simply interpret the biblical text and explain what it meant to the original audience; you also need to show how the truths can be integrated into our 21st-century lives.

So, in addition to explaining the biblical text that addresses a particular situation within biblical history, explain how its timeless truths apply to our lives today. Explanation without application often ends in frustration because listeners realize something in their lives should change as a result of what they just heard–they’re just not sure what it is.

When teaching Sunday school lessons: Give explicit application, not ambiguous You-Should exhortations

teaching Sunday school lessons

When teaching Sunday school lessons, it is important to make a clear distinction between explicit application and You-Should exhortations. Application clearly explains how we can obey biblical principles even if it means providing a step-by-step process every now and then. You-Should exhortations, on the other hand, don’t tell listeners how to apply the truths but simply that they should, ought to, or need to apply the truths. These exhortations sound more like this:

  • You should love your neighbor as yourself.
  • You need to live a godly life.
  • You ought to be a witness to your neighbors.
  • We should remove all idols from our lives.
  • We need to discover our spiritual gifts and use them.

And on and on it goes. Even though these statements may look like application, they are not. When teaching a Sunday school lesson, listeners want you to tell them how they can pray without ceasing, not that they need to pray without ceasing. They want to know how they can be filled with the Spirit, not that they should be filled with the Spirit. Most individuals already know what they should be doing; what they want is for you to tell them how they can actually do it.

When teaching, a mental alarm should go off every time you hear yourself say, “we should,” “you ought to,” or “we need to” do this or that. Let this alarm remind you to follow up that You-Should exhortation with a “Here’s How” application. Most of us would probably be surprised at how often we say, “you should do this,” without ever following it up with a “and here’s how.” It’s not uncommon to hear teachers get on a role and rattle off five or ten You-Should exhortations without giving a single “and here’s how” application.

When teaching Sunday school lessons: Record your lesson

One way to overcome “You Should” teaching is to record your lesson. This allows you to go back and make sure the majority of your You-Should exhortations were followed up with a “here’s how you can do that” application. Recording yourself teaching a Sunday school lesson also allows you to discover other areas needing improvement. Often, just becoming aware of a particular habit or practice is all that is needed to make the change.

You can instantly double, triple, or even quadruple your teaching effectiveness by applying this one principle.

When teaching Sunday school lessons
The Sticky Proverb prevents
explanation without a destination,
arrows without a target.

>> To learn more about integrating application in your lessons, see chapter 6 in Teaching to Transform Not Inform 2: How to Teach a Transformational Sunday School Lesson...STEP-BY-STEP.

Find more links for teaching Sunday school lessons

To find more links on teaching Sunday school lessons, see the following:

Additional Topics for teaching Sunday school lessons
Book 1 Topics for: Teaching Sunday school lessons Book 2 Topics for: Teaching Sunday school lessons
How to unlock Sunday school growth with transformational teaching Learning how to use the seven essential elements needed when teaching Sunday school lessons
Coaching teachers to become one of the imperfect people God uses Guiding teachers to use the Sticky Proverb.
Instruction that creates a ripple that continues into eternity Training teachers to use Visual Anchors when teaching Sunday school lessons.
Teaching Sunday school lessons Giving challenges, assignments, exercises, and homework that encourage change.