There may be teens and young adults in your church that your class members know well (or not at all). Together as a group, discuss conceivable activities that could be planned to assist your group in developing a closer connection with the youth of your church. Following are some possible events to consider: family game night, church picnic, youth/adult interviews (pre-planned questions to facilitate conversations), progressive dinners, etc. In order to easily permit parishioners to get better acquainted, perhaps factsheets listing information about each young person could be compiled. These might include a picture, age, year in school/occupation, details about one’s family, interests/hobbies, and a prayer need. The adult class members could select one or more youth to remember in prayer, and they could make a point to write notes of encouragement to the young people and intentionally develop a connection with them.
Witnessing to others is crucial to our spiritual growth in Christ. Inquire with the students about the circles of influence they believe they currently have in their personal lives and encourage them to give their testimony in class. Challenge them to find someone this next week with whom they can share their “Jesus story.” It is best to keep it brief (one or two minutes) by using the following formula: “1) There was a time in my life when . . . 2) Then I met Jesus . . . 3) Since that time . . . 4) My life is not perfect, but through God’s grace I now . . . 5) Do you have a story like that?” They should then be prepared to entertain a conversation about God. To ensure that each student can lead another to the Lord, walk through the following verses in class: John 3:16; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:9; Revelation 3:20.
It is important to teach members to engage in inductive Bible study methods. Empower the students, and discover what captures the interest of each individual. Rather than using a lecture style, facilitate a group discussion. Sit around a table(s) in groups of ten or fewer to allow for adults to view one another as equals. Each person should re-read the Bible passage quietly for five to ten minutes, looking for the one main point and several key concepts. Later, compare the conclusions drawn by each reader. If there are glaring errors in interpretation that are offered up, step in to give an alternative explanation based on Scripture. After the passage is presented, ask probing, open-ended questions. If there is time remaining after this process has taken place, bring out Bible concordances and dictionaries for further study. Encourage attendees to follow this study method at home.
Take some time to allow each class member to give examples of practicing simplicity in their lives. Some may focus on being good stewards of their money and developing frugal habits. Perhaps the topic of contentment will arise, or individuals might choose to convey ways in which they have kept their expenses down so that they would be more able to give to missions, charities, or the church. Facilitate a discussion that pertains to the lesson about the importance of uncluttering one's life. Begin with the significance of having a looser grip on physical items that accumulate over time. Allow the topic to lead into the need to unencumber our minds which allows God to reveal Himself through our prayer and devotions. Ask volunteers to share "God-encounters" that were possible when they were able to take a break from the chaos of life.
Present the possibility to the class of engaging in various forms of community service on a regular basis. This venture will challenge students to think of others and to reach beyond the four walls of the church. Start by brainstorming about some options that could be considered. Ask individuals to share the types of volunteerism in which they currently participate or activities they have especially enjoyed in the past. It would be feasible to clean a home or yard for a shut-in or neighbor, or to visit a soup kitchen to serve the needy. Food could be brought along to encourage the interest and involvement of the group. There might be a girls' home or pregnancy center nearby to which the members could donate items. Some individuals may be unable physically to attend the outreach effort, but they could pray and/or donate toward the cause.
Observation: Sundays can be as eventful as other days. There are seasons in the church calendar which make the Lord’s Day just as hectic as any other. Check in with the class for input about this issue. Do they notice themselves being so industrious in “God’s work” that they fail to reserve intervals to restore their souls? Are they too harried to be sensitive to the needs around them? Do the class members take opportunities to sit down with their families for occasional meals and quality time? Inspire the group to plan sessions to refuel and restore their spirits before the Lord. When Sundays become crowded with church events, encourage them to seize additional moments on alternative days in the week to devote to time alone with God. Rest from one’s work is modeled by God. It is important that we discuss how to follow His model.
Develop a hunger in the hearts of your adult students to have a passion and burden for missions. Pray for the persecuted church regularly, and share occasional updates about the victories or obstacles facing those who are suffering for the cause of Christ. Educate the members regarding the challenges that missionaries have in trying to evangelize unreached people groups. Pray specifically for our missionaries, and communicate with them through cards/letters or social media. Consider sending a care package to various missionaries from time to time. The class might be interested in committing to fill one or more Christmas packages for needy children. Make a concerted effort to give toward the annual World Missions offering at church. Perhaps the Sunday school class could take up a collection in addition to the gifts that individuals plan to donate on their own.
Carefully pray, plan, and prepare the class for the upcoming week’s focus on the meditation of God’s Word and biblical principles. Mention that each person should bring a journal or note-taking method the following class. Choose a portion of the Bible reading to use to practice meditating on a passage. Select several class members to read pre-determined sections from various writers on this subject to give the group guidance on how to pursue meditation on the Scripture. This is a discipline that is rarely mentioned in sermons but results in personal benefits to encourage closeness with God and spiritual growth. Issue a challenge, along with suggestions from readings, for the class to develop this discipline individually in the week to come. After practicing this exercise, ask for feedback from participants regarding areas where they were convicted, blessed, or uplifted.
One of the chief roles of a teacher during a time of discussion is not to assess who is right or wrong but to keep the discussion on target. Discussions can easily stray into talking about pet peeves if they are not guided correctly. Often guiding the discussion is done with questions that bring the speaker back to the discussion topic. You can say things like, “What you have said is good, but how does it help us to understand our topic?” If you summarize the contribution of each speaker to the topic, it may help later speakers to stay on the topic.
Question formation can greatly assist, or doom, a group discussion. Make sure your question is formed in such a way as to encour-age differing thoughts. Avoid questions that can be answered with a yes or no. Some possible question formats might include the following:
A. How do you feel about . . . ?
B. How can we change the situation?
C. What do you think has led to this situation or way of thinking?
D. Why do you feel as you do?
How, why, and when questions will often be more successful in stimulating discussion.