Effective Adult Sunday School Teaching Methods?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JohnB, Nov 20, 2006.

  1. JohnB

    JohnB
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    I have been teaching adult Sunday school for many years, but am always looking for the "most effective" techniques in teaching.

    Here are some various techniques that I would like feedback on:

    1. Handouts vs. no handouts
    2. If handouts, fill in the blank or not
    3. Multiple-point outlines vs. one point lessons.
    4. "Seminary" type classes (extensive, detailed notes/books) vs. more devotional approach.
    5. Chapter and verse vs topical teaching.
    6. Age graded vs. electives
    7. Lecture vs. discussion

    I know this is very broad, but I would like feedback as to what you find "effective."

    And how do you measure effectiveness?
     
  2. Amy.G

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    In our previous church we did the Master Work Series of studies in SS. I don't really care for these studies since they are really a study on books written by various authors like Charles Stanley, John Piper, John Macarthur, ect. These are fine christian teachers, but I prefer doing that kind of study on my own time and learning the Bible verse by verse at church. In fact, I'm not really a fan of studying much of anything except the Bible. Just my opinion. Our teacher at that time also did not encourage much interaction and basically taught while we listened. We are in a different church now and a totally different kind of SS. Sometimes we study a particular book, but more emphasis is placed on the scriptures rather than the author's opinion. There is also a lot of discussion and not just the teacher talking. I have learned far more this way and we really enjoy it. Other times we'll discuss a subject using scripture as the basis and the teacher will hand out an outline. I believe this freedom allows the Holy Spirit to move amoung all of us and learn the things He wants us to learn.
    Great question. :)
     
  3. Joseph M. Smith

    Joseph M. Smith
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    I try to offer Bible study in historical and cultural context, helping people see the background out of which the Biblical material comes. But I try not to lecture on and on, but either to assign them small research projects or to get them to bring up out of their own knowledge pertinent materials. I like to do handouts, and my class seems to appreciate them (always asking for those they may have missed).

    And yet, none of this is the most effective, in a sense. What we are after is life formation, not just information. The methods of transformational Bible study as espoused a number of years ago by Walter Wink, in which people are led to encounter the Biblical material, live into it, identify with the characters, describe their own feelings as they read it -- these are more genuinely effective than information-focused techniques.
     
  4. Allan

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    Well, I'll toss my nickle in here.
    I would say give out the handouts but keep them simple and fill in the blank. This will allow them to 'add' any other infomation THEY want to remember but basic information so they can keep the train of thought.

    I do a Seminary/devotional (mixed) approach. I let it get as deep as they can handle, open to comments and questions so they can dig via interaction with ONE ANOTHER. And if we go off topic due to a true interest in learning and the Spirit leading I go with it. We always have Concordances, bible dictionaries and other materials to help any direction we go in.

    I do a Chapter by Chapter AND Topical to give it some variety and allow for the group to help me know what would be good to do the next week. Are they keen on what the chapter is teaching or are they going off subject asking serioulsy other questions that would be a good topic of discussion.

    My old Church did both so people would not become complacent and could go to any study that peeked their interest (topicals) or fellowship (age graded) with usually alittle deeper study.

    As I stated earlier I like a mixture of lecture/discussion. I feel the less interaction the less they actually learn of their own but rely on your knowledge and obtain what I call barrowed Faith. They just come to hear and leave if they are not apart of that which God is revealing.

    How I determine effectiveness are 3 ways:
    1. I always ask at the end of class; What did you get out of the study today?
    They can answer if they want or not. But I find a much deeper insight from the people on this as they 'tell you' what and how God spoke to them.

    2. Do they talk about the subject afterwards amonst themselves. I don't mean in depth (though it does happen) but common or casual speaking.

    3. Do some come back next week or sometime between and tell you what they have found studying it for themselves or looking it up to see if you were right.


    Sometimes I have fun with my class and purposely bring in false teachings to see if they will refute and prove me wrong. (They LOVE this, as they pummel me to bits most times)

    I teach both youth and adults this way and it works wonderfully well for me.
     
  5. donnA

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    Our teacher, whom we are losing this Sunday, teaches strictly from the bible, he prefers discussion, we sometimes get handouts, no blanks, seminary type, yes, even sometimes on that level(according to our pastor), usually chapter and verse, a whole book. And we have all learned tremendously, the best classes I have ever been in. Except, now we are spoiled with his method, and level of teaching, we are the most advanced class in the church, that we are going to miss him severely.
     
  6. Amy.G

    Amy.G
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    Allan
    .
    This is so true. This is what SS was like in our previous church. Discussion is very important. We learn much better this way than by lecture only.


    I love this idea. Can I come to your class? It sounds great!
     
  7. Allan

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    As the South says "Cum'on in."

    It is a blast, but I must confess, it is SOOOO hard to spue blatent falsehoods without laughing out loud or making a statement and then correcting myself for such a dumb statement. :BangHead:

    Though it does make them dig to show me scripturally where I am wrong and why what they espouse is conrrect both bibilically (in the bible) but also contextually. I also think they are a bit over enthusiastic at the prospect of proving me wrong and then able to rub my nose in it, but hey, it is for them I teach - not me. It is one of my favorite times.
     
  8. Jack Matthews

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    I'm guessing that when you speak of "verse by verse," realizing that verses are not in and of themselves complete thoughts, you are referring to an exegesis of the scripture. Literally taking the scripture "verse by verse" would not lead you to a correct interpretation or application of it, since the verses and chapters were added into the text upon the invention of the printing press.

    I do an exegesis, facilitating a discussion in which the learners pull out the key principles and applications. My "adults" are 18 to 25 year olds, and most of them are involved in lectures for several hours each week.
     
  9. Allan

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    And this "verse by verse" you are quoting who??

    Everyone I see on here has said Chapter and verse or Chapter by Chapter not verse by verse.

    As to your last paragraph - Good for you! Sounds like you have some college students there, glad to hear it.

    Maybe it is just the way I am reading it but you sound a tad bit...self dignified with your education. You probably did not mean it that way and I take no offence but I was just letting you know how it appears to read.
    Although to be honest though I do know all those big 10 dollar words we get learn in college and Seminary I would rather speak 5 words known than 10,000 unknown (as in verse by verse vs. exegesis), or as Bailey Smith once said...

     
  10. Allan

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    Correction to the Bailey Smith quote:
     
  11. saturneptune

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    A little off the topic, but the class I teach is from 7th to 12th grade. We use the Life Way, Bible studies for life. It has mixed results. Sometimes the material takes something kids are really into such as video games or super heros and relates that to a Bible lesson. Sometimes the commentary in the book, 5 pages a week of opinion, is not what I would call accurate. Sometimes I use the commentary, sometimes straight from the Bible. At times, a situation comes up and we discuss something not related to the lesson in the book that week.

    Yes, the idea of starting with a false statement works well. One time, when we were talking about creation, I asked, who did God create first, Christ or the Holy Spirit? Everyone of them expressed an opinion one way or another. Needless to say, we took care of that misunderstanding. A good tactic though. I am a very boring speaker, but try to keep the interest best I can.
     
  12. Allan

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    If yo can keep their attention for even half the class, then a great teacher you are.
    I personally believe it is part of the manifestation of the spiritual gift of teaching. The othe part of that manifestation is that there is spiritual learning and understanding. Go with it SN and God be praised!
     
  13. gb93433

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    That says a lot about your class.

    Great teachers have students who want to learn. Poor teachers have students who think they know everything.
     

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