Tell Them He Lives

Tell Them He Lives

Wylam Price

This article, the eighth in a series on Sunday school work, will be followed next month by a discussion of curriculum.

The father who excused himself from the lunch table one Sunday afternoon was naturally not too pleased when he heard his young daughter explaining to their guests, “Daddy has to go and prepare his Sunday school lesson.”

Such a situation is no doubt embarrassing to a teacher who neglects the preparation of his lesson until the very last minute. But worse than that, such tardy preparation is usually the prelude to a spiritually ineffective lesson.

This article, the eighth in a series on Sunday school work, will be followed next month by a discussion of curriculum.

The preparation of every lesson should be started at least a week in advance and continued daily until the lesson is given. In the case of a message as vital as the Easter story, it is not too soon to begin preparations even earlier.

When uncontrollable circumstances make such preliminary work impossible, the Lord is able to provide in a special way. But this is no reason for expecting the Lord to provide when we are negligent of our duty to Him and to our pupils.

Preparing Daily

Certain aspects of the teacher’s preparation need to be repeated daily throughout the week; e.g., the teacher’s spiritual exercise.

If he is going to be endued with spiritual power that will make his service honoring to the Lord, the teacher must cultivate daily communion with Him.

Prayer is essential for an understanding of the Word of God, and certainly also for the kind of power that will really glorify God. Such power should be at its peak in our experience during this season of the year when we are remembering the death and resurrection of Him who could say, “All power is given unto Me” (Matt. 28:18. See also Phil. 3:10. Rom. 6:11. Gal. 2:20. Col. 3 :1-3 ) .

In addition, the teacher’s daily prayers should include a special burden for each pupil. The unity in the school will also be enhanced through prayer for the superintendent, other teachers, and their classes (See also “With One Accord,” Food for the Flock, November 1959, page 213).

Every day, the Scriptures bearing on the lesson should be read prayerfully; in the case of the Lord’s. resurrection, all four Gospels could be used, and 1 Corinthians 15.

While reading, many ideas will come to mind: illustrations, questions in the teacher’s mind, questions to ask the pupils. All of these should be noted and attended to as time permits.

A Suggested Schedule

In addition to the preparation repeated daily, other preparatory work should also be done on different days of the week.

SUNDAY. Preparation for a lesson should be started early — the afternoon or evening of the Sunday before. Sunday is a busy day, but a good teacher will at least make time for choosing the next topic and reading the Scriptures.

For the Easter lesson, if the emphasis is to be on the resurrection, the minimum reading will be Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20, and 1 Corinthians 15.

MONDAY. Other translations should be read in addition to the Authorized Version. Answers to the teacher’s questions should be sought with the help of commentaries, Bible dictionaries and encyclopaedias.

“Curios” might be obtained from a museum or missionary. The object desired for the stimulation of pupil interest may not be readily available, so adequate time should be allowed for procuring it.

For Easter, teachers might obtain pressed flowers brought from the Holy Land. For items like this, it is a good idea to be on the alert throughout the year.

TUESDAY. If a teacher’s manual is available, it should be used as much as it is helpful. Needs vary, so each teacher must take what is useful and leave the rest aside.

This is a good day to attend selecting a memory verse to fix the message in pupils’ minds; e.g., Luke 24:6-7.

WEDNESDAY. A detailed outline of the lesson should be written down by mid-week, and thought should be given to the visual aids (See also “Five Channels of Blessing”, Food for the Flock, February 1960, page 33).

Flannelgraphs or filmstrips are excellent for portraying the Easter message. Besides the telling of the story, the playing of Easter music on records makes an appeal to the hearing. There are numerous Easter hymns and choruses which children should sing at this time of the year; e.g., “Low in the Grave He Lay,” and “I Am the Resurrection and the Life.”

The senses of sight, smell, and touch can also be exploited if preparations are made sufficiently in advance. The planting of bulbs earlier in the year can be timed to have the flowers appear in time for Easter. While illustrating death, burial, and resurrection, this project also makes an appeal to various senses simultaneously. When the time arrives for smelling the flowers, the children could also handle an old bulb, just to remind them of the “burial.”

THURSDAY. Visual aids chosen on Wednesday should now be prepared, and a “dry run” carried out for practice.

FRIDAY. Children learn by doing, so handwork has a vital role to play in the lesson. At Easter, many possibilities suggest themselves; e.g., a gift for parents, say a bookmark of cardboard cut in the shape of an Easter flower, with “He is risen” inscribed.

Or, an Easter greeting card for parents might be prepared, with an Easter verse-sticker attached and an Easter tract enclosed to carry home a message to adults. These tracts, as well as others for the children themselves, must be ordered well in advance.

SATURDAY. This is a good day for phoning absentees, just to remind them about “Sunday school tomorrow.” A great deal of time should also be devoted to prayer. Choice of a good Easter poem to read after the lesson might be made now.

SUNDAY. Everything should be committed to the Lord in fresh surrender, preferably at a fairly early hour in the morning. He can only use to His glory what is really from Himself.

After school, the lesson should be evaluated and notes made for improving next week’s effort. Absentees should be contacted by letter, telephone, or visitation.

Presenting The Lesson

If the teacher has an appropriate “curio” on hand when the children arrive, chit-chat is focussed in the lesson subject itself. This creates a desirable atmosphere right from the beginning of the session.

Everyone learns by going from the known to the unknown, so the teacher must always make sure that his words and concepts are suited to each pupil, and that illustrations comprise terms and experiences with which children are familiar. The use of a flowering bulb is particularly suitable as an illustration in this connection. (Incidentally, the bulb and flower could be used instead of a curio if the latter were too difficult to obtain).

A typical Easter lesson might include the following elements. First, a brief reading of a suitable Scripture passage is essential, for nothing we can give our pupils is more powerful than His Word. Older children can read around the group or in unison. Even young children should be given a verse or two; it helps them to realize that the story is God’s, not ours.

Telling the story with flannelgraph or filmstrip comes next — a second hearing of the message.

In reviewing (the third hearing), the flannelgraph can be used again, with the children re-telling the story. Holding the figures appeals to their sense of touch.

The teacher can also make good use of flash-cards in review. Each card carries one key word from the story; e.g., tomb, nails, thorns, stone, Mary, etc. When the pupil sees the word, he then tries to tell the part of the story associated with that word.

After the review, the handwork is done, followed by a closing poem that gives a final impression of the lesson just before the youngsters go off home with a message for their parents tucked into their Easter gift.