Adult Sunday School

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Brian30755, Jul 8, 2005.

  1. Brian30755

    Brian30755
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    I teach an Adult Sunday School class at my church, and I'm trying to gather some information to help us have a better Sunday School class.

    I would like to hear from anyone who teaches an Adult class, but I would also like to hear from anyone who attends an adult Sunday School class.

    Some things I would like to hear about (from teachers):

    What kind of class do you teach (Young Adult, Seniors, Singles, Couples, etc.)?

    Do you use a printed curriculum? If so, what kind (Lifeway, etc.)? Or do you only use the Bible?

    If you use a curriculum, how do you teach? Do you read the teacher's guide word for word? Do you read the scripture, then try to sum it up in your own words? Do you read from the student guide? Do you try to get a discussion started among the class, or are you afraid things will get too far off-topic? Do you "lecture"? Use a chalk board or white board? Overhead projector?

    If you ATTEND an Adult Sunday School class, what do you like or dislike about your class? Do you like to sit back and listen? Or do you like to get in on the discussion? What would be your suggestions to make your Sunday School class better?

    Any comments on "What would make a better Sunday School" are welcome and appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Brian
     
  2. IAD

    IAD
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    I'll take a stab at this, since I kind of fit both profiles -- that is, my dad teaches our SS class, but when he's sick or out of town I cover for him. Some brief background on our class...It's called "College & Careers." What it basically means is "Too old for high school but too young to want to go upstairs and sit with the middle-aged folks." Other than my dad (and my mom, who comes because Dad teaches it), I'm the oldest in the class at 36. The youngest would be two guys who just graduated high school in May. I'm not really sure what the upper limit of the class is. I often feel too old, just because of the demographic of most of the rest of the class (college or just post-college), but I hate to leave because of who the teacher is, and because I'm one of the few that actually participates in discussion.

    We're currently using a curriculum that I believe is from Lifeway, and we're looking in depth at some Bible personalities. We're currently studying Job, having just finished Noah. Last year we did another one on various women in the Bible (Mary, Rahab, Esther, Ruth, the Virtuous Woman, the Bride of Christ, etc.). We don't have a student version, though lately Dad's been typing up some basic questions and points to help us follow along. He uses the dry-erase board a lot, which I tend to do when I fill in as well. We obviously use the Bible a lot, too, reading passages or verses together to initiate discussion of various point.

    I guess the thing that bugs me the most about our class is the lack of participation on the part of many students. It's awkward to be in a class where my dad is the teacher, and my mom, my wife and I are the predominant talkers. It sometimes feels like a family Bible study with an audience. One other "issue" is that I'd like to sometimes do a topical study instead of a character study, but I think my dad's teaching tendencies lend themselves more to character study.
     
  3. BobRyan

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    The bain of every teacher is the lack of interest/participation in the class. The best antedote is "good questions".

    Rule #1 - Don't give them "toy questions". Don't seek "canned answers".

    Rule #2. Don't ask "random question". Always be going somewhere.

    Rule #3. Don't toss out answers like candy. Just because you "have an answer" does not mean you have to give it as soon as a class member asks a question. Toss the question back to the class and let them chew on it - unless it really is a brain teaser and has stumped everyone.

    Rule #4. Validate each member's participation. EVEN if you think it is a dumb question or a dumb answer - try to find something in what they have said that is "right" or that other might want to know more about -- focus on the good.

    Rule #5. Have the "big picture" in mind. Try to "Get somewhere" by the end of the class. In other words "If you don't remember anything else we discovered today - remember this..."

    Rule #6. The majority of meaningful study has to take place OUTSIDE of class. That means the purpose of class is to generate genuine interest in the class members doing something on their own. A good class should not be the END of something - it is the START of something.

    Rule #7. Do not let the class melt down into "I think... I think... I think" and no Bible references. (That is where a lot of academics will try to take a class. But if the class is overrun with that stuff -- it is boring and it is pointless). If you get people trying to pontificate - you can always shut them down by making them make their case from the Bible. However to be "credible" pushing for that model - you have to lead by example.

    Rule #8. Don't let anyone person read more the 3 verses at one time. Spread the reading around - go person by person through the class until the chapter or section of the Bible you are studying is read to make your point.

    Rule #9. Always use the Bible as "the text" EVEN if you are using some other book as the study guide. And even if everybody has a copy of that "study guide". This makes it easy for visitors to join.

    But in general - if you reward the time and effort people put into "thinking" while they are in class - they will do more of it.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  4. Brian30755

    Brian30755
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    Thank you so much for your insight. I'm looking forward to hearing from many others.

    I guess I could have simply asked: What makes a good Sunday School class? What can a teacher do to make it better?

    Thanks again.
     
  5. donnA

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    I don't teach a class, but will in the future. I do however attend Sunday school. We do not use prewriten material. We study straight through a book, one chapter at a time, our teacher is very well studied, and he puts about 10-20 hours a week into a lesson. We did Gen 41 today. I like to be involved, him asking questions (we give answers) or us being able to ask questions. He says never ask a question you don't know the answer to when your teaching. We are the advanced class in our church. i think you have to know who is in your clas what where they are spiritually and how deep a lesson they can take and understand. You don't want to teach above anyones heads. Your teaching bible information yes, but don't forget application, what does it reasonably mean to us, how can we use this scripture in our lives. The bible says all scripture is good for teaching, even though we don't follow the OT laws, there is much more in there for us, it just has to be properly dug out, everything relates to everything else or there wouldn't be one central theme to scripture.
    One thng we all like is fellowship time together so we get to know each other, sometimes we have meals together, or bring breakfast to have before clas time( we arrive a little early for this so we don't loose class time).
     
  6. Bob

    Bob
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    I teach an adult Sunday school class, and at 65, I am one of the junior members. Of the 20 or so in the class, six of them are old enough to be my parents. For the past several quarters I have been teaching straight from the Bible because the Adult Bible Studies quarterlies we get from the United Methodist Publishing House are written by religious humanists, most of whom don't believe in the divine authority of the Scripture, the Virgin Birth or the bodily Ressurection of Christ from the tomb. However, preparing my own lessons has proven more of a blessing than a chore, because not only can I feed my class the true Word of God, but I learn along with them as I study the Bible more myself. Sometimes I feel like a preacher getting a sermon ready (though God has called me to teach rather than preach).
    Recently I persuaded my church to stop buying from the UMC Publishing house and start getting our quarterlies from a more fundamental source.
    At times I have asked God why he put me in a United Methodist Church when I would be so much more comfortable elsewhere. I think He put me there to teach that class.
    A quick word about the United Methodist: even though there is much apostasy in the UMC, there are still millions of United Methodists such as myself who have not yet bowed their knees to Baal. Pray for us, brothers and sisters in Christ!
     
  7. Brian30755

    Brian30755
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    Bob, just reading your post has touched my heart. Yes, I most definitely will pray for you and the UMC, and I will ask others at my church to pray for you too. Thank you for your comments.
     
  8. Marcia

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    I attend 2 adult SS classes. In one, we are now using a Nav Press study book on 1 Timothy (we did a similar thing with Galatians and 1,2,3 John). Doing the homework helps familiarize us with the text, then the teacher leads a discussion on it -- and we discuss! But the teacher keeps us focused -- that is important.

    In the other class, the teacher chooses a Bible book to go through, passage by passage. We are now doing the gospel of John. There is not study book or homework. He writes an outline on the board (helpful) and has prepare by reading commentaries and doing prayerful study. He then brings out points in the text and asks questions. This class does not have as much discussion but it is also good.

    I don't like classes where there is little or no discussion -- I think we learn better with discussion. But I think the best thing is to have a study book for class members to do homework and reading in so they are prepared to discuss. Otherwise, you can have people just giving opinions or bad interpretations in class and it's a waste of time.

    Also, the teacher needs to keep the discussion on track.
     
  9. TexasSky

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    Amen BobRyan

    Off and on over the years I have stepped back from teaching children to attend adult classes and "retouch". The only classes I got anything out of were either the Pastor's Class ~or~ classes that followed the recommendations Bob Ryan gave above.

    It seems most literature is geared for people who have previously been unchurched, and there is nothing wrong with that - but people who HAVE been churched need more indepth information.

    I also agree with Donna - it needs application to your daily life.

    And I agree with Marcia that participation is required.

    The best Sunday School teacher I ever had always concluded a lesson by asking (or pointing out himself) how the biblical truths written then apply to us today.
     

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