This next month, I will be teaching both the high school Sunday School class and the Children’s Church group, grades 1-6, for my small (100 attendance) church. Now, many wonder how I do this, and frankly, I don’t recommend that a teacher teach twice on a Sunday, especially to two such diverse groups. But, in a small church, sometimes you do what you gotta do.
How do I keep everything straight? Well, I admit, I don’t. It’s not easy even for an experienced teacher. But I have learned some tips that make teaching two completely different groups back to back a bit easier.
1. Start preparations early. Sometimes we can get away with working on a Sunday School lesson last thing Saturday night. Not now! Read through both lessons, at different times, early in the week. Make a list of the supplies you need and try not to wait till Saturday to purchase or gather supplies.
2. Work the Bible Study portion of your lesson into your own quiet time. Since you won’t be able to hear preaching or teaching for yourself, you need to be responsible to be self fed. This is the one time your quiet time becomes even more necessary than usual. If you are going to give out, you have to take in.
3. Do final preparations Saturday. I gather all my supplies in a Rubbermaid tub. I go over to the church to lay out papers and set up games. I purposely get up early Sautrday morning to study and prepare while the rest of the family is asleep. This way, I’ll have uninterrupted time to study and prepare activities.
4. Write out your plans. I use a legal sized note pad to write out an outline of each lesson – the activities I’m going to use and the key talking points I want to make about each activity. I can’t rely on my brain to remember two completely different lessons and it’s hard to look at my teacher’s book during the lesson, especially when I have altered the lesson or when the book gives me more activity options than I’m going to use. You also could use a highlighter to highlight the activities and talking points in your lesson book.
4. Get help. There are a lot of people in congregations who don’t want to be in charge, but they are glad to be a helper. Ask an adult who isn’t teaching the first session to be in the classroom fifteen minutes before the second session begins, giving you time to wrap up your first session, go to the bathroom and grab last minute, forgotten or extra supplies for a larger than expected class. If your groups are large, get helpers. This will keep the entire responsibility from being on you. Yes, you can handle it, but you won’t be so utterly spent afterwards if you have help.
5. Ease off on the rest of life. This is not the time to invite guests over for Sunday dinner! While eating out with church friends sounds inviting, my preacher husband and I sometimes feel that we are so tired after a full morning of responsibilities that we’re not fit for social consumption. Keep plans light. Go home and take a nap. Part of our Sunday worship should be Sabbath rest.
6. Pray. Yesterday (Sunday), I woke up early which was fine with me because I didn’t quite feel ready for my high school Sunday School class. I wanted to study a bit more. As I tried to study, I kept thinking of kids and I started praying. I didn’t get my studying done; instead I prayed for both my classes. Yesterday was one of the smoothest two session days I’ve ever had. In addition to that, two families came that I had prayed for and who haven’t come in a long time. So, try to find time Sunday morning to pray that the Lord who teaches all of us will partner with you throughout the morning.
Jesus recognized that His kingdom lacks workers when He said to His disciples, “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few (Luke 10:2).” So add to your prayer to pray along Jesus’ command to “ask the Lord of the harvest therefore to send out workers into his harvest field (Matthew 9:38).”
Yes, I come home tired. I ought to. Teaching is work. I figure if I don’t come home tired, after two sessions, I haven’t given it my all. Sometimes it’s tempting to wish there were other people to help do the job. I miss visiting with my friends because I’m stuck downstairs for two hours. It would be nice to come to church and just soak in the worship experience without having any responsibilities. But when I stop and think of the lives I’m influencing for Jesus, that I have the privilege to tell classrooms of kids the most important message in all of time and space, there’s no other place I want to be.