Saturday, September 3, 2011

Making Sunday School Easy for You - E (3)

E Cubed - The most basic of teaching rules for any age. The curriculum is not the most important, as you must learn to trust the Spirit to guide you anyway.  

First E = Empower.  You must, by the end of their class, give them something that will empower them in their lives.  By that I mean a basic understanding of the biblical principle behind whatever verse, story or collection of biblical selections you are supposed to teach through a REAL LIFE EXERCISE.  TELLING THEM IS NOT ENOUGH.  This must be from their Point of View before it is from your point of view. (see Example at the end)

Second E = Educate. You must also get them to see what they did to be empowered is squarely within the scriptures.  You must relate what they learned physically to the Bible or to the Spirit of God.  Without this, you are just teaching morals.  The Bible must be tied into and used to support, justify and explain what they did physically.

Third E = Entertain.  Really.  If it is not fun, then the only reason they will come back is because they are forced to.  You might be ok with that, but think about this for a moment.  If they WANT to come back, then at 7 am they are jumping on their parents bed making sure their parents are coming to church.  Early no less.  They will bring their friends.  You support not only the church's health in general, but you get to teach the Good News directly to an always growing number of children.  Entertain them!!

Example: Ephesians 6:1-3(NKJV) Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

Think about this for a moment.  When I first started teaching Sunday school as an assistant, the message for this was really simple.  Do what you are told by your parents.  Why?  Because GOD said so, and you do not want him upset at you, but you also get a reward. You get to live a long time.  (The implied result of NOT obeying is NOT living a long time on the earth.  In other words, do what you are told or you will DIE.)

They were forced to memorize the verse.  They were then forced to WATCH a puppet show that was amusing and instructive, but by this time they had been sitting in chairs for 45 minutes.  The sang some songs and then they went home.

Credit: Free photos from
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.   What kid would enjoy that?  

Mom: "Johnny, what did you do today in Sunday School?"  
Johnny (Fidgeting): "Nothing."
Johnny (Frozen in place) "We watched a puppet show about doing what we are told and we sang."
Mom: "That's better."


This is an example of the three E's.

Entertain them

1) At the start of class, divide the class up into 2 groups: boys/girls, old/young, tall/short, random counting.  It does not matter, though they respond well to boys/girls and it removes any touchy feely issues.  
Then have them each get a chair, with their groups, and sit in them facing you.  Stand is some strange place that they are not used to.  If a drill starts differently in some way, you have already attracted their attention. (Most adults have done this drill, but they are kids, and if you crank them up first with some music, and get them yelling and excited, you will get the few who have seen it forget what is going on.)  

Then you read them this list of things to do.  

"For this game you just have to remember to listen to all the instructions before you do anything."

Read the first line quickly, with NO special attention what so ever.  Then tell them them a story about what happens if you don't obey.  One of the teachers I teach with taught me the trick of using the Gross Fact of the Day here, so they have a good chance of forgetting the first line you read them.  Then tell them that who ever does all 10 things first and correctly wins (have some prize ... cookies, pop-tarts, something that is inexpensive but they want)  Crank them up on the prize ...  

Then you read the 10 items on the list.  (Feel free to change the items. Make them fun)

1. Stand on your chair.  (Give them time to do it.  Remind them that the first done wins.  Congratulate the one who is first, or tallest, or not moving ... just someone on the chair.)

2. Put you Thumbs in your ears, open up your hands, and wave your hands back and forth saying, "I'm a Moose, I'm a Moose."  Show them how, and Make it funny. 

3. Dance slowly on the chair.  (Show them how so they will laugh at you.)

4. Jump off the chair.

5. Sit on the floor.

6. Moo like a cow (do it so they understand and laugh)

7. Sit on the chair backwards and rest you head on the back of the chair.

8. Snore LOUDLY.

9. Fall out of the Chair.

10.  Don't do the first 9 things.  Just stay in the chair and wave at Me.

You might have to explain what they did wrong. (You asked them to listen to all the rules before doing anything.  If they say, "that's not fair," remind them that LIFE is NOT fair, and that they need to listen and pay attention.  If someone did it right give them the reward.  Since they had to be first, whoever waved first and did NOT DO 1 - 9, wins.  Make a big deal about the reward.

Empower them

2) ASK them where else in their lives that there is a reward for doing what they are told, listening, and acting the right way.  Lead them to answers like School, Home, Sunday School, Sports ...  Lead them is NOT tell them.  Only tell them if you can not get the correct answers.  If you get a biblical answer, thank them, and tell them you will get back to that.  Move on.  Make this about what they already know.  Fix their attention on what they just did physically.

Ask them what type of rewards they get, like if you won this game?  Happy parents, good grades, win the game, happy you .....

Ask them where they have missed this in their lives and what happens when they do not listen and do what they are told to do?  Be prepared to lead them and also be prepared for weirdness.  DO NOT LET THIS LEAD YOU TO POLITICAL DISCUSSIONS ABOUT CRIME AND PUNISHMENT.  You are trying to empower them in their own lives, not scare them.  In addition, you are preparing them for the Word of God, and as followers of Christ, we all know that is about Love.  If you are saved, Hell is not on option.

Educate them

3) Have them find the verse in the Bible.  Be aware that they might not have a bible.  It might not be your sacred version. They may not have been taught how to find chapters and books.  They may not even know the difference between New and Old Testaments.  They may not know how to read.  We are teachers.  Make it happen.  Finding it is nearly as important as reading it.

Then READ IT. Ephesians 6:1-3(NKJV) Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” 

You can have one of them read it after you, especially if they have a different translation than you, but you must read it first.  You will put the inflection and meaning into the words.

Ask them to relate the verse to the game.

Ask them to relate the verse to their lives.

Ask them to relate the verse to God.  (Please remember that God is NOT telling them that he is going to KILL them for not obeying.  He is telling them that their life will be better and longer if they obey.  He loves them, so he is telling them how the world works.)


If you have time, play the game again.  It helps them to remember what they have learned, and changes the answers to the questions that their parents are going to ask.


Feel free to ask questions about any lesson you might like to teach.  We will attempt to give you our suggestions on how to use the three E's as quickly as we can.

Peace   Anne & Paul

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