Two years ago, Karen Jacobsen put out a call for Sunday School teachers. I was transitioning off of Youth Ministry and still wanted to work with students but unsure about working with those below middle-school age. My heart said “yes,” but my brain said “no way.” God and Karen said to trust and to take a chance. So I took a leap and haven’t looked back.
Teaching Sunday School has been more rewarding that I had anticipated. Here are 3 lessons I have learned while spending 60 minutes with our church’s 11-year old students:
1. I am not only teaching the gospel to the students but also preaching it to myself (per Paul Tripp). As I am teaching them, I am learning myself. Our class uses the “What’s Up” curriculum, which is challenging to both 5th graders and teachers. To cultivate an open sharing environment, the book requests that teachers share their own sin or areas of disobedience so as to model this for the kids. Wow, that’s being vulnerable! It’s easy for biblical truth to become rote knowledge that I don’t even think about its implications any more, but teaching compels me to think and be able to explain the reasons to our kids. The best part is listening to our children’s answers to some very tricky questions: they are sometimes honest and thought-provoking, and sometimes incredibly sweet and funny.
2. I am witnessing the ripple effect of years of Sunday School teaching. Parents, if you are wondering if any of the Bible lessons taught in Sunday School are sticking, I can confidently answer, “Yes!” At the point, they may be reciting from memory, but that knowledge that began with simple Bible stories (think David and Goliath) in the Pre-K/K class and then advanced to reading and interpreting Scripture passages. Every year spent in Sunday School is like adding bricks to our children’s wall of faith, which we pray will hold fast as they come of age. When I have a busy week, I sometimes wish I don’t have to review and prep (it’s only about 1-2 hours) for the 5th grade lesson. But then I am reminded that I am not just teaching one lesson this Sunday but am impacting lives for generations to come and adding one more brick to their faith. God intended for his Word to transform both adults and children, and the latter is occurring when we remind them again and again of the truth of the gospel.
3. Lastly, teaching Sunday School has expanded my GRC community. I co-teach with Wo and have come to know her well when we share stories with the kids. It’s also been a delight to get to know some of our congregation’s youngest members and their families. As a parent to two teenage boys, my paths would not have readily crossed with them if I only sat in the sanctuary on Sundays. What I also find most enjoyable is teaching the siblings of prior students, because then I’m part of inter-generational ministering.
These young members of GRC have opened up a new part of my faith and make me look forward to Sunday worship. If you’re daunted by the thought of teaching Sunday School, I would encourage you to believe that God can equip you for this challenge.
Lanvi O’Malley is a member and enjoys teaching 5th grade Sunday School.