Lesson Preparation --Part 2

Lesson Preparation
Part 2

David Ward

Continued from last month.

Now then, having the aim, the next important thing is to study. It is good to have a specific place to study. It is good to have a specific time to study. These things are aids to get me to actually study and stop fooling myself when I try to tell myself that I really am studying, but am not. How should I study? First of all, of course prayerfully. After all, the teaching of spiritual truths is a work of God. I would suggest, as the Scripture teaches not only does the natural man not receive the things of God, but as a Christian I must be teaching in the Spirit of God, and even believers must be hearing in the Spirit of God. It is a total spiritual ministry, and unless both teacher and student alike are wrought upon by the Holy Spirit of God, there will not be an effective spiritual teaching in that class. There may result conformity to certain things that are set up: a code of conduct in one way or another; but in the final analysis spirituality goes far deeper than a mere conformity to an outward code of conduct, no matter how correct it may be. As teachers, we must reach the soul of the individual. We must reach his emotional being. We must reach his mind and will. We must reach him in the power of the Spirit of God, so that there, at the very personality, he makes decisions for God and there is spiritual development, not outward conformity. See Romans 12:1-2. God says that we are not to conform to the things of the world, the spirit of the world or the thinking of the world. Rather, there is necessary a spiritual process which God calls transformation: the permanent outworking which begins at the centre and soul of the individual, as spiritual teaching reaches his heart… Prayerful study!

Then again, there must be purposeful study! This involves all that I have said and I just sum it up again in indicating that I have a specific aim before me and I seek to pursue that aim, both in the direction of my message and in the application of my message. For we fail generally at both ends. We fail to aim properly and then we fail to drive home the truth that is aimed. The arrow must be headed in the right direction and have a point upon it, that it may sink into the heart. And so the truth of God, with which the teacher may be well conversant, must be broken into the needed increments and imparted in spiritual manner so that the individuals before the teacher, with varied needs, may grasp that which is presented.

Also, the teacher must study early! How early? If you are a teacher of a Sunday School class now, you should be able to tell me your entire quarter’s study: the general broad outline of it.

We should have in view a whole quarter at least in our study and in our teaching. We must not just be beginning to study on Saturday night, or merely within that week, but each lesson is to be a block laid upon the preceding lesson and the whole must be grasped in its entirety, constantly evaluated, reassessed and redirected as we have suggested. Too often we have disjointed little lessons and they fail to fit together and to make the overall impact that God had in mind for them.

Then, the teacher must study thoroughly! Remember, in this connection, that the teacher is not to teach the manual. He is teaching the pupils the Word of God to lead them to faith and maturity in Jesus Christ. If there is anything that disturbs me, and you will forgive me if I confess that sometimes I do get disturbed, it is this of merely teaching the manual. The manual is to be an aid. It’s not the end. The pupils that you have before you, they are the ones that you are teaching and the Word of God is that which you are teaching, and the manual is a means of helping you in a grasp of the Word. Bible commentary, Bible dictionary, concordance, Bible encyclopedia — these are good and basic study aids. After having thoroughly studied the lesson, what then should I do with these materials? Leave them home.

Now then, there is another thing. Not only must there be an aiming and a studying, but there must be a gathering of materials, in order to present the lesson. I notice that most of our brethren who have taken part this afternoon have had some materials which have helped us grasp what they have had to say. Some of them have used clippings from magazines or newspapers. Last night as I stopped along the way from New England out here, I picked up an evening newspaper. I saw this on the editorial page: “Who is flying blind?” Then two quotations; one from Soviet Cosmonaut Titov and the other from Astronaut Glenn. Titov said in brief, “I don’t believe in God; I believe in man, his strength, his possibilities and his reason,” and so on. Glenn said, among other things, “My peace has been made with my Maker for a number of years. So I had no particular worries on that line.” What is that? That is simply something that I gathered just last night. Now I want to save it that I might use it. So the teacher must constantly be gathering materials, saving them in order that in due course and at the proper time he might use them.

Illustrative material from the Word of God itself, is one source; other sources are the newspaper, personal experiences — nothing can beat illustrations from personal experience. But jot them down. Save them. Paint a mental picture at least of something you have read. This will help you to retain it. But writing it down is the best means I know of to retain something you would like to keep. Keep a notebook. Keep a folder in your file on these materials that you want to save. A good teacher is able to bring to bear upon his lesson these illustrative teaching aids to help interest the boys and girls and illustrate the truth which is being presented.

And in connection with what has been said previously, I think it has well been pointed out that all of these problems are basically a teacher problem. Now don’t you blame the boys and girls if they are what you would call a discipline problem. Sometimes the teachers have come to me and said, “I can’t get the boys and girls in my class to learn their memory verse. They are Intermediates now or Juniors now. Well, they just got past that age.” I said, “Nonsense!” Sometimes they come to me and say, “Well, I can’t get my children to do their bookwork any more.” “Nonsense.” All of these areas present teacher problems and if teachers are doing the thorough, consistent, diligent job that God would have them do, the pupils would avidly be interested in that which is being presented.