RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–Choices abound when teaching Sunday School, said Carl Fondren, minister of education at Gardendale Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, Texas.
“Creative teaching is teaching the way your learners learn. Our job is to find out what their preference of learning is,” Fondren said in leading several adult leadership conferences at the July 26-28 National Sunday School Leadership week at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center in Ridgecrest, N.C.
Fondren cited five basic methods by which leaders teach:
— Lecture, which is the most basic and common teaching method. One must be careful not to overuse the lecture method, Fondren said, noting, “A lot of teachers lecture every week because it’s what they’ve always done and it doesn’t take a lot of preparation time. Though lecture is sometimes useful, that’s not how everybody learns.”
— Group discussions. While lecture is the simplest method, Fondren said group discussion often can be the most difficult. “It can be really hard to get people to open up in a group discussion if it’s something they’ve never done before,” Fondren said. “But there is such a wealth of knowledge that people can share, especially in senior adult classes.”
— Case studies. These allow teachers to address specific needs without embarrassing people, and class members are able to talk about things without singling out anybody, Fondren said. “Case studies are great, in that no one is intimidated. Just be sure to have the studies already written down before class so people don’t think you’re talking about them,” he counseled.
— Brainstorming. “Nobody is ever wrong in a brainstorm,” Fondren said. “Everybody is able to express their ideas without feeling intimidated by anybody else.”
— Question and answer. The teacher must guide the questions and make sure things stay on task, Fondren said. “It’s really easy to get off of the subject during question and answer. You can be talking about some deep theological issue, and someone will ask why the carpet in the sanctuary is blue. The teacher must actively guide the questions so this doesn’t happen.”
Fondren also outlined eight of the most common learning preferences, and how they can be helpful in people finding a place of service in Sunday School.
— Relational. These learners enjoy activities that focus on interaction and cooperation with others. They are often talkative and extroverted. “Relational learners make great greeters,” Fondren said. “They love to meet others and really make your visitors feel welcome.”
— Logical. These learners learn by activities that focus on problem-solving and analogies. “Our class coordinator is a logical learner, and we couldn’t have found anybody better for the job,” Fondren said.
— Reflective. For class members who are introverted and like to stay out of the center of attention, they may feel most comfortable with activities that focus on self-expression and personalizing biblical truths, Fondren said. Reflective learners often enjoy heading up prayer ministries or doing behind the scenes activities, such as being in charge of the class newsletter.
— Verbal. These learners learn by reading, writing, speaking and listening. “Verbal learners can do more than teach,” said Fondren. “They’re also great in outreach positions. We have pillars of the church who are homebound and forgotten. Your verbal people can really motivate your class to seek out those people.”
— Musical — “Just because you aren’t musical doesn’t mean you can’t reach those learners in your class who are,” Fondren said. Musical learners learn by activities that focus on music, singing and performing. Using music to go along with the lesson often draws these people in, and teachers also can ask the musical members of the class to lead a praise and worship time.
— Visual. In their tendency to focus on visual images and representations of what is being learned, these people can be utilized to decorate the classroom or create a bulletin board, Fondren noted. “Visual people love when you bring in a tangible example of what you are trying to teach,” he said, citing a time he brought an 8-year-old to class and let him tell the adults what to do for a lesson about the young King Josiah.
— Natural. “Some people just want to get outside of the walls of the church,” Fondren explained. These natural learners crave activities that focus on exploring elements in the natural world. They enjoy such activities as adopting a highway or participating in an outdoor service.
— Physical. These learners like activities that involve projects and building skills. They often learn best through drama and role-playing and would be the perfect people to help your class organize a community outreach building project, such as Habitat for Humanity.
“Everybody learns though a combination of these eight preferences,” Fondren said. “You should try to use several in every lesson. It may require some more work, but the benefits will be unbelievable as you reach people who have never before shown any interest in Sunday School.”
The Sunday School Leadership event at Ridgecrest is sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. For more information about this and other conferences, go to www.lifeway.com.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: LOTS OF OPTIONS.