Sunday School Teaching

I had not taught any religious classes in years when I felt moved to lead a short term class.  My schedule makes  long term classes problematic, but when the idea of short, 4-6 week seminar style classes came up, it was a perfect fit. We thought we could come up with shorter and different classes that would be  more appealing to those who might only be able to attend a class once in a while.  Class sizes started out very small, but as we’ve kept at it, the class size continues to grow – and sometimes the classes with the toughest subjects  draw the largest numbers.

While I  hope to have an impact on those who attend the classes, one can’t be in a small group without it affecting everyone – even the leader. Here are a few ways it has created a personal impact.

1. It has improved my faith life. I have to review, read, and research some of the material, not all of which we will ever go over in class. I have to reflect on it, have answers to the questions that are provided, and invariably come up with my own thoughts and reflections on the topic.

2. It has improved my relationship with the church. It is hard to not feel a greater connection  when you are part of a small group. Leading that small group means getting to know the people in the group, and engaging them in conversation. It also has the effect of getting you to church a lot more regularly.

3. I’ve seen connections between the material I’ve presented and  scripture, sermons, and life in general. I’ve stopped being surprised at how often a topic or a lesson that is mentioned in one of them is highlighted in another. My logical side argues that this is church material, after all…but the connections happen too often for my spiritual side to allow it to be dismissed. The topics are too diverse and too random for it to be simply chance.

A perfect example of this is a class I recently led on resurection.  I remember briefly touching on Revelations, with some members (myself included) tending to give short shrift to that particular book. The next day I was looking up the day’s readings in “A Disciple’s Journey”, and one of the readings was Revelation 21, which is about the vision of a new heaven and a new earth, and “he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away. (Rev 21:4) ” Then the specific reading started, and included the “Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end” (Rev 21:6), before concluding with a vision of what is to come for both those who have been faithful, as well as those who have been faithless. It certainly makes the lesson stick a bit longer with you when you get messages like this!

4. I’ve learned. From the material, of course…I am constantly amazed at the high quality of material we are blessed to work with, especially what I remember having 30 years ago. Anybody remember filmstrips? It is more than that, though…it is learning from each other, even when we don’t agree on the finer points of an issue.

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