Tuesday, December 11, 2012

10 Tips for Teaching Students

December 12, 2012
Good things are happening among the teenagers of PCC.  Parents are stepping forward to serve, students are active and excited, a few absentee students have returned, and a new teaching team (of highly capable adults) is being formed!  To everyone involved, here are a few tips I’d like to offer when teaching and leading teens:

1.  START STRONG.  You have to get their attention the moment you step up to teach if you want to keep their attention.  Start with high energy, a big question, or a big concept.  Remember, you’re about to tell them what God has said – so start strong and nail your theme in your opening comments.

2.  TEACH ONE CONCEPT.  Students are not stupid.  They can learn more than is expected of them.  Don’t dumb it down, just focus your one concept with laser intensity.  Give them one big idea – sin, Scripture, the Cross, Jesus’ divinity, the resurrection – something to focus the entire message around.

3.  ASK A LOT OF QUESTIONS.  Make the lesson interactive by calling on kids.  Ask questions throughout the message to keep students engaged to see what they are thinking.  The purpose of asking question is not merely to get a right answer, but to ascertain their level of understanding.  Throw out a candy bar to the kids who give good answers, which keeps it fun and light.  When students ask a question, let other students try to answer it.  If they don’t get it right, then you can answer it.  The point is to get students thinking and talking about faith and content of the Bible.

4.  BE ENTHUSIASTIC YOURSELF TO KEEP THE ROOM ALIVE.  Students don’t just believe what you teach.  They get excited about the things you get excited about.  If God’s Word does not light your fire, it’s not going to light theirs either.

5.  MAKE IT FUN.  Have a sense of humor when appropriate.  Get students up front leading worship or sharing their testimony.  Plan activities that will help the kids to develop relationships with each other and adult mentors.  Use interesting props or anything else that might keep it fun yet still reverent toward God.

6.  ALLOW TIME FOR Q&A.  After you teach, open it up for a focused Q&A session to gauge where the kids actually are.  Students have questions, so invite them to ask.  For students who may be shy or have a private question, invite them to find you or another leader after the teaching time.  Be around and available following the lesson in order to talk with students and answer their questions.

7.  CONNECT EVERYTHING TO JESUS.  The whole Bible is about Jesus.  Say the Name of Jesus.  Point to Jesus.  Honor Jesus.  And focus on Jesus.

8.  GIVE AWAY NICE BIBLES.  Many students, even those from Christian homes, don’t have a decent Bible.  They often have one of those cheap, paperback types with font so small that it requires a magnifying glass to read it.  Or it’s one of those cheapies that have kiddy pictures in it.  On the other hand, a good Bible can change a student’s life.  They might consider it such a great gift that they take it seriously and start reading it.  I would recommend a leather (or at least bonded leather) NIV Study Bible or ESV Study Bible.  Spending money on a quality Bible for students who show an interest in spiritual matters or the potential for spiritual growth is a much better investment than chips and soda pop for the masses.  Remember, discipleship is always the goal.

9.  TAKE A PARENTAL TONE.  Pray for students all week.  Ask God to keep giving you the Father’s heart for the students so that when you get up to teach they see in you a parental role, loving and leading them.  The NT is filled with the language of spiritual adoption while using family terms to describe the relationships we have with one another.  God might be calling you to be a spiritual father or mother to some of these students, so see yourself in that kind of role.

10.  AND ABOVE ALL, ENCOURAGE & INSIST THAT STUDENTS BE IN THE ADULT SERVICE ON SUNDAY, WHICH IS THE “LORDS DAY.”  Students should be attending Sunday services for corporate worship just like anyone else.  Sunday is the “Lord’s Day” and we are commanded to gather for corporate worship on that day.  They are not “little people” who need to be segregated from adults and entertained with cake-and-ice-cream parties. They are young adults who should be integrated with older adults so that they will start acting like adults.  After all, if they can attend school for 8 hours a day learning subjects like algebra, chemistry, history, science, and literature, they are old enough to learn, worship, and comprehend what’s taking place in the adult service.  Besides, by integrating them into the adult service as part of their discipleship training, they will more likely to stay in church after they graduate from high school.

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