We joined our church this past summer and, after a few months, were asked to teach the youth Sunday school class. We were excited to get involved but a little nervous, since we didn’t know the students very well. Because we were already familiar with the Worldview Rethink curriculum, we decided it would be a good starting point. Now, we are about halfway through. Over the weeks, we’ve learned a few things that have helped us engage our youth with the Bible.
1. Include them in the process (visual aids)
We hosted a “Tabernacle Party” at our house one Sunday evening. The youth that came helped us assemble the tabernacle model. Besides this, we’ve also had the youth help locate materials and be responsible for our “How do I teach death using a branch” that illustrates our life apart from the source of life.
2. Help every participant be comfortable
Because the curriculum is set up to include everyone, the expectations are easy and clear. Any time there is a scripture reference that is italicized, the students read aloud. We have the youth decide who goes first and in which order they’ll take turns. Sometimes it’s clockwise and, at other times, it’s counterclockwise. Sometimes it’s random. It didn’t take long for them to be comfortable with participating. It may not seem like much, but we want to include them in every way possible!
3. Make sure no one gets left behind by doing a review each week
One of the challenges we’ve faced is not having the same group each week. We don’t want anyone to be confused if we make reference to a previous lesson. So each week, we take the first ten to fifteen minutes to carefully review what we’ve covered so far. In particular, we look at how each person or generation has attempted to bridge the chasm, caused by sin, to reach God. We’ve been impressed with the comprehension of the students, even those who have missed a session. (For those who want to catch up at home, they can watch the Learn about the Bible online course.)
4. Allowing plenty of time for questions
We’ve been intrigued by the questions that have come up as we’ve gone through this course. You can gauge what is being understood, and what previous biblical knowledge they may have (or may not have!), by the kinds of questions that are being asked. For example, we hear questions such as, “So the Israelites actually packed up everything in the Tabernacle and carried it around in the wilderness? How heavy was it? How far did they have to go? How many people did it take to carry everything?” When questions come up that will be covered later, the curriculum has a built-in way of not getting too sidetracked—the clothes basket visual aid has been invaluable, really!
5. Be available outside of class to build trust and answer questions
Sometimes we just can’t cover everything or answer questions as in depth as we might like. We made sure all the kids knew how to contact us if they thought of other questions or wanted more information. Being available to them has built trust and opened the door for all kinds of conversations that we may not have had without the Worldview Rethink class as a starting point.
Working with youth has unique challenges. But, each week we are impressed with the fact that each student, whether a new believer, a student seeking answers about the Bible, or one who has been raised in church, are all learning. These materials have been the perfect beginning point for us, as we navigate our new role as leaders and get to know the youth. Since the teaching is foundational and structured, it makes the time run smoothly.
As we continue through the course, we continue to pray for each one. It’s our prayer that each one might come to have the kind of clear and powerful understanding that will enable God to use them to share his message with others.
When you are going through a Worldview Rethink study in a Sunday school setting, there are three key factors to bear in mind. First is regular attendance. For Sunday school, the students tend to drop in and out of class. Each week, you might be faced with a slightly different group and so reviewing the gospel story covered so far is very important. As a teacher, you need to encourage regular attendance and devise a plan to allow students who have missed sessions to catch up. To help students who miss certain sessions stay on track, you can inform them of the pages that was covered. This way, students can read up on what they had missed and when they join the next class, they will not be behind the other students.
Second is the amount of teaching time you have for each lesson. Sunday school sessions are often short. Before a teacher can really get going, time runs out! If you can create a solid block of teaching time each week (an hour or more), it will help the story progress faster and in a more coherent manner.
The third factor is grasping the overall picture. Often in a Sunday school setting, the teaching becomes disjointed or fractured because of sporadic attention spans and short sessions. Because Worldview Rethink explains the gospel message as a chronological historical narrative, stretching the story over too many weeks may mean that the students do not get the full picture. It’s like watching ten minutes of a movie each week for ten weeks (and missing some segments). The story gets muddled because students are missing pieces of it.
So while the opportunity to teach Worldview Rethink in Sunday school is an exciting prospect, please bear these challenges in mind. If you have questions, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or write to us at hello[at]goodseed.com.