You’re an Adult Sunday School Teacher: Now What?

Now you’ve done it! You said yes to teaching an adult Sunday School class. And you are asking yourself, “What was I thinking?” Please permit me to offer you some encouragement. You can do this by God’s strength—you are embarking on the blessed adventure of communicating biblical truth to God’s people. Now, what do you do to prepare?

Step 1: Prepare your heart

Start with your heart. A well-prepared lesson begins with a prepared heart. As teachers, we have been given the divine task of unfolding the truths of God’s word before a class of adults. Our students are people who have labored in the workplace of the world all week. They need the encouragement that God’s word provides. They need to hear truth. They need to know that God’s word is living and practical for their lives today. Therefore, teachers should approach each lesson with a prayer that the Holy Spirit, the Author of the word, would guide them and use them in making the Bible come alive in their own hearts and the hearts those they will teach.

Step 2: Read the Bible passage(s)

Usually your lesson will cover specific passages of Scripture, or perhaps just one. This may seem a little obvious, but it still must be said: read the passage(s). Read them in context; make sure you know the basics about who wrote them, when they were written, and to whom they were written.

Step 3: Gather study tools

You ought to read the Bible on your own before seeking others’ opinions, but you shouldn’t stop there. Christ gave teachers to his church for good reason (Eph 4:11). So a third step in preparation is to use study tools created by careful teachers.

We are fortunate to live in a day when it is easy to find tools that will enhance our study, preparation, and presentation of biblical truth. When I was a young pastor in the BC (Before Computers) days, my study consisted of various commentaries, notes, and writing instruments strategically laid out across a large desk. A basic word study of any particular word might take the larger part of an hour. But with today’s software tools, those same studies take less time and yet go to greater depths.

Imagine that your upcoming lesson is on the first chapter of Philippians. A good place to begin your preparation would be to grasp the overall purpose of Philippians. I like using the Factbook in Logos to find such information.

It is also a good practice to consult some commentaries on the portion of the text you are covering. Of course, there are commentaries that dive into the deepest of theological and linguistic waters, and they are certainly useful. However, there are also more accessible commentaries that offer insight into the wording and purpose of the text, as well as practical application for living.

Two of my favorites, at this level, are Warren Wiersbe’s Bible Exposition Commentary series and John Phillips’s Exploring Commentary series. Both are great resources, and they’re easy to use in Logos—just type a Scripture reference into the Passage Guide and Logos will open your commentaries to the right page. The hardback copies of Wiersbe’s two-volume set were given to me as a young pastor, and it proved to be of immense value as I began to develop my teaching skills.

Step 4: Plan some illustrations

Both of the commentary series I mentioned also offer insightful illustrations for teaching biblical truth: stories, word pictures, analogies, quotations—anything that makes the truth striking and memorable. It is Charles Spurgeon who is credited with saying that illustrations are windows that let light into your Bible teaching. A creative teacher will seek ways to let the light into their lessons. It will be those moments that capture the ears, hearts, and minds of your listeners. This step is not incidental to your preparation; it is essential.

Through prayer, study, and the diligent use of tools, you can be an effective adult Sunday School teacher.

***

This article was originally published in the September/October 2021 issue of Bible Study Magazine. Slight adjustments, such as title and subheadings, may be the addition of an editor.

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Written by
Marty O. Wynn

Marty and his wife reside in Columbus Georgia, where he serves as the pastor of Community Baptist Church. He is dad to two married children and “Pa” to seven grandchildren. He also serves on the Board of Directors for John Phillips Ministries International.

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Written by Marty O. Wynn
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