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Don’t start studying lesson night before, Sunday school teachers told

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–Laughter and muted conversation filled the air as the groups assembled piles of building blocks into houses. They had an assignment: to build the tallest house possible as quickly as possible with their portion of blocks.

The first group’s house was creatively designed and stood tall as its builders pointed out its unique features. The house the second group built fell into pieces when one member held it up to display. The third group’s house stretched high into the air; they had taken the teacher’s instructions literally. The final group built its house in segments, and even though the members tried, they couldn’t get the pieces to stay together.

The groups were made up of adults, not children, and Jan Marler, a childhood ministry specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources, was the teacher, instructing them on the essentials for excellence in teaching children’s Sunday school.

“These kids have got to have firm foundations,” Marler told the group at LifeWay Ridgecrest (N.C.) Conference Center during a Sunday school and open groups conference July 11-14. “They don’t know their Bibles, and it’s your responsibility to teach them. “The first essential that needs to come out of your bag is the Bible.”

Marler offered 12 tips to the Sunday school teachers, who had each been teaching for three years or less, cautioning them not to forget about their own well-being as they minister to children.

Tip No. 1: “Pay yourself first. Never neglect your daily quiet time. If you’re relying on that Sunday morning adult experience to carry you, you’re going to come up hurting.”

Tip No. 2: Beware of easy fixes like giving the kids coloring books or workbook pages. Though activities like watching videos may fill up time, they can create discipline problems in the future.

The most important piece of advice Marler said she had to offer the rookie teachers was to prepare a little every day. Each day of the week, teachers should be doing something to get ready for Sunday morning.

“How many times have you picked up your leader’s guide at 9 o’clock on Saturday night to get started?” Marler asked. “That’s not fair to your kids, and it’s not fair to you.”

Teaching children’s Sunday school is a big job, but not everyone is called to do it, Marler said. “If this isn’t the place God wants you to serve, find out where you should be and get there,” she said.

Rounding out Marler’s 12 tips:

— Pay it now or pay it later. Take care of discipline problems.

— Know your score. Evaluate yourself: Do the children look forward to Sunday? Do you look forward to Sunday? Are the kids growing? Are you growing?

— Pay as you go. Prepare a little every day.

— There is a price for lack of discipline. Prayer, planning, preparation and ministry will suffer.

— Do you really need it? Know what you want to teach. Plan activities that directly relate to the life impact statement.

— Be accountable. Plan with other leaders weekly. Share ministry responsibilities. Delegate tasks to others.

— Mentor someone. Have someone ready to take your place if the need arises.

— What’s the start-up cost? Have a job description. Know the time commitment. Consider the emotional and spiritual cost. Clarify expectations.

— Health insurance is mandatory. Take care of yourself.

— It pays to shop around. Find the place God has called you to and get to it
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: LEADERS LEARNING and HI-TECH.

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  • Leslie Ann Shoemake