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The Hyles Sunday School
Dr. Jack Hyles
1. The Organization of the Sunday School
Proper organization is essential to any thriving institution. It is important, however, to emphasize the word “proper.” Too much organization can add weights to the Sunday school. Too little organization can prevent its operating with peak efficiency. The following is a discussion aimed at providing just the right amount of organization for Sunday school growth.
1. The Church. The Sunday school is “the church teaching.” It is a dangerous thing for Sunday school not to be considered the church. I have been in churches where the pastor does not attend Sunday school. Believe it or not, in some rare instances the church even charges the Sunday school rent for the use of the buildings. In many cases church leaders and officials have no part in the Sunday school. I have known deacon chairmen who attended no Sunday school class whatsoever. The Sunday school should be considered a part of the church program. The entire church should consider it a vital hour. In some cases the church approves all of the Sunday school officers. In other cases the church empowers the pastor or a committee to do so. At any rate, the election of a teacher should not be in the hands of a class. A class should never divorce itself from the program of the church. The church should promote the Sunday school, and the Sunday school should promote the church. Truly, they are one! The entire time from the beginning of the Sunday school hour until the end of the morning service should be considered all one church service by God’s people.
2. The Pastor. There are several words in the Bible for “pastor.” One is the word “bishop” which means “overseer.” This means the pastor should oversee the entire church program. He should take a vital interest in the Sunday school. He should definitely be the leader whether behind the scenes or before the people. For nearly a quarter of a century I have directed the work of the Sunday school in each of my five pastorates. For all of these years I have led in the conducting of the Teachers’ and Officers’ Meeting, the teaching of the lesson to my teachers, the planning of the promotional activities, and every other phase of the Sunday school program.
3. The Sunday School Superintendent. This office should not be filled by one who simply has the gift of gab, a winning personality, or is popular in the church. It should be filled by the one who knows the most about Sunday school and is the best leader of the Sunday school. In many cases, this should be the pastor. Some churches find this office should be filled by one of the assistant pastors. In some areas churches have educational directors and this office carries with it the superintendent of the Sunday school. In other churches a layman is
Sunday school superintendent. Which of the above is chosen for the job is dependent upon one thing and one thing only: Who is the best Sunday school leader of the group?
The Sunday school superintendent should oversee the entire work of the Sunday school along WITH the pastor. He should be the dynamic inspiration behind the enlistment of workers, the choosing of the departmental superintendents, the keeping of the records, and every other phase of the Sunday school program.
4. Departmental Superintendent. This is the key person of the Sunday school as far as promoting attendance is concerned. Such a person should be responsible for supervising and directing the entire work of the department. He should be a good executive, able to inspire his workers and work with others. His main duties would be planning and conducting the opening assembly for the department, organizing the department properly, encouraging the teachers to do better jobs, inspiring and leading the department with enthusiasm and growth, seeing that adequate provision is made for all the work of the department, filling vacancies when teachers are unavoidably absent, and in general, overseeing the work of the department. Perhaps the most important of these responsibilities is the promoting of the attendance and the inspiring of the teachers to do the same. When the pastor and/or Sunday school superintendent lead in a spring or fall program or any kind of Sunday school drive, he should have the kind of departmental superintendents who will see to it that their departments grow and who can instill in their workers and pupils the desire to do a better job for God.
It is my conviction that many churches have too many departments and therefore, too many departmental superintendents. Not just any person can be a departmental superintendent. It requires a rare combination of wisdom, knowledge, and zeal.
5. The Teacher. Rather than the teacher being subservient to the superintendent, I like to think of the teacher and the superintendent simply working in different areas. The superintendent oversees the work of the departmental assembly and promotion, while the teacher teaches the Word of God and builds the class.
The pastor is what the general is to an army. The Sunday school superintendent is what the colonel is to the general. The departmental superintendents are company commanders, and the teachers are squad leaders. We will not dwell long here for much of this book is given to the instructions, enlistment, and qualifications of the teachers.
6. The Assistant Superintendent. Sometimes this is a duty of a staff member. When it is, it involves the work of increasing attendance, leading the visitation program, and substituting for the superintendent in case of emergency. Usually this office can be filled on a part-time basis by one of the teachers. The decision that is made should be based upon the local situation.
7. General Teachers. I do not like having substitute teachers. We have found it much more helpful to have what we call “general teachers.” In a department with fifteen classes two people could be chosen as general teachers. They would be considered as much a part of the department as the regular teachers. They would come to the weekly Teachers’ and Officers’ Meeting and would come to the department each Sunday prepared to teach. They would be available to teach when and if needed. There are many miscellaneous duties that they could perform in addition to substituting for teachers as an emergency (or in some cases, delinquency). The general teacher should be treated with all of the respect of a regular teacher and should be chosen and enlisted in the same manner.
8. Class Organization. In our Sunday school at the First Baptist Church of Hammond we have our classes organized, and yet this organization is a very loose one. The average class simply has a president, vice-president, and secretary. The secretary cares for the class records; the president assists the teacher in class planning and presides on Sunday morning; and the vice-president presides in the absence of the president. The theory of this is that the main duty of every Christian should be soul winning and visitation, and nothing should excuse a Christian from such. Often the holding of offices which have nothing to do with soul winning become substitutes for the big thing. That big thing, of course, is reaching people for the Lord Jesus Christ. no amount of organization, no job regardless of its importance, and no duty regardless of its benevolence, will substitute for the carrying out of the Great Commission, which, simply stated, is soul winning!
In a children’s class organized this loosely the class is started by the teacher standing up and warmly welcoming the pupils and visitors. The teacher then very enthusiastically and courteously introduces the president who stands, adds his greetings, calls the class to order, and asks someone to pray. The class president then turns to the teacher and introduces him for the introduction of the visitors. The teacher, who has already gotten the visitors’ names and interesting facts about them before the class started, rises to welcome the visitors. The visitors’ names are called, and interesting statements are made concerning them. After the visitors are properly introduced the teacher turns it back to the president. The president then
makes the necessary announcements concerning the weekday activities of the class and any special events for the class in the future. He may add his greeting to the visitors, and then very courteously he introduces the teacher. The teacher follows with the lesson and closes the class.
In classes for older children and adults the above procedure is also recommended except that the president is in charge of all preliminaries. This would apply only to small, medium-sized classes. In a case of a large auditorium class taught by the pastor, perhaps he would recognize the visitors and make the announcements. In small classes, however, especially for those of older children, it might be wise that more time and duties be given to the president in order to train teachers and leaders for the future.
Many Sunday schools, however, desire more organization than this for their Sunday schools. We suggest the following offices and duties:
(1) President. Since the secret to any organization is its leadership, the president should be careful to keep the following things in mind:
a. Faithfulness. The president should be one who is always present. By this it is not meant that the president should merely be willing to be faithful. Certainly no office should be given to one in order to make him faithful. The president should be one who is already faithful to all of the activities of the church.
b. Neatness in appearance. In many cases the first impression a visitor will get is that given by the president. Hence, a president should set an example. The president should be one who dresses appropriately and is careful about such things as shoes, fingernails, hair, etc. The first impression should be a good one.
c. In adult classes the president should be able to teach in case of emergency. If the teacher suddenly becomes ill or is called away for an emergency, the class will not be seriously handicapped if the president is prepared. Not only is it a good idea for the president to be able to teach, but he should be prepared to do so every Sunday if needed. It may be that he will never be needed, but he himself will benefit from the extensive study of the lesson, even if he is not used as a teacher.
d. The president should preside with efficiency. The Lord’s work should be done properly. Nothing slipshod, haphazard, or halfhearted should be given to God. Certainly no moderator in any secular endeavor should preside with more efficiency than the president of a Sunday school class. He should know what he is doing and it should be obvious to the class. The slipshod way in which God’s work is often done is absolutely tragic. We usually say that God’s work is the most important in the world. Careless behavior, planning, and operating of God’s work would lead a bystander to believe that God’s work is not very important in the minds of those who lead. How tragic!
e. The president should present the teacher each week. A good introduction is very important to a speaker and oftentimes can spell the difference between success and failure. If the president would say something like, “We thank God for our teacher who has prepared something for our hearts today. Let us pray for him as he brings the lesson from God’s Word,” it would be of inestimable value to the teacher and hence to the class.
f. The president should constantly keep in touch with the other class officers, being sure that their duties are performed in a Christian and efficient manner. Some classes find it wise to have a brief, thirty-second report from each officer each week. If this does not increase the total time taken on business to four or five minutes, it may be done with efficiency and impressiveness.
g. The president should plan a monthly get-together for the class. This meeting should be highly planned and should be a combination of business and pleasure. He may work with the teacher in this endeavor as is discussed in the chapter, “Weekday Duties of the Teacher.”
h. The president could join the teacher in greeting the class members as they enter the classroom. Certainly the president should be friendly and hospitable, and should make each person feel needed, wanted, and welcome.
(2) Vice-president. In a class that is highly organized the vice-president should do the following:
a. Be a ready substitute for the president in case of his absence. Because of this, the vice-president should possess a satisfactory amount of presidential qualities such as neatness, friendliness, hospitality, etc.
b. The vice-president should be in charge of the visitation program of the class. He should promote visitation, lead the class in a special visitation method, keep as prospect list. He is the number one person as far as the enlargement of the class is concerned.
c. The vice-president should be able to care for the records in case the secretary is absent. In other words, this office is a combination of vice-president and vice-secretary. In our generation we have found the importance of choosing a good vice-president. When President Kennedy was assassinated, we realized immediately that our country was in the hands of one not previously chosen to be a president, rather a vice-president. Hence, the vice-president in any organization should always be a capable one.
a. The secretary should pass out envelopes at the door. If offering envelopes are used, they can be received as they enter the class. This would allow the secretary to add a warm smile and even a friendly handshake to that of the teacher and president.
b. The secretary should be sure that each visitor and new member has a visitor’s card and a new member’s slip.
c. If the class is divided into groups, the secretary should present each group captain with an absentee list. Since the secretary works with the records, he should alert those who lead in the visitation program with a list of the delinquent members.
d. The secretary should keep the class money and give a monthly report.
e. Perhaps the secretary could give a brief report at the end of class. This report could tell the class members the highlights of the day’s statistics. It should be understood that this report, as all reports, should be an optimistic one. It should not be a time of scolding, but a time of inspiration.
f. The secretary should keep an accurate set of records. It is very important that all cards and records be kept up to date and accurate. Numbers are very important in the Bible. Occasionally someone will minimize the importance of numbers in God’s work, and in most cases, their numbers are very minimal. We are reminded of the feeding of the five thousand, the hundred and twenty in the upper room, and the hundred and twenty in the upper room, and the three thousand people saved on Pentecost. One book in the Bible is called “Numbers.” Hence, God places His significance on numbers, for a number represents a person, and we should try to reach as many people as possible. The job of the secretary should not be taken lightly. In our present board of deacons we have one of the most efficient secretaries that I have known. It is amazing how much the work is aided by such a dedicated secretary.
(4) Group Captain. Some classes are divided into groups with a group captain over each group. Sometimes this is done for visitation purposes, sometimes for social purposes, or other reasons. Whatever the reason, it is often used very successfully. Naturally the success of the group rests upon the shoulders of the group captain.
a. In a medium-sized class one group captain for each ten members is advisable. Now, of course, this would not be true in every case. In some large auditorium classes, a group captain may even have a hundred. In such a case he would have to organize his group so as to enlist others to help him in the contacting of absentees and prospects. It is thought, however, that one group captain could very well captain ten members and do all of the visiting himself.
b. The group captain should be a pastor to his members. He should be willing to offer counsel, visit hospitals, pray for the sick, etc. One of the great reasons for organization is the delegation of responsibility. The larger a church and Sunday school becomes the more people must enter into the pastoring work. Certainly a group captain can be a great help here.
c. The group captain should call the faithful members regularly. This could be just a brief phone call of a social nature to remind the faithful people that they are not neglected, overlooked or unappreciated.
d. The group captain should contact all absentees. In smaller classes the teacher can care for this. For classes large enough to demand division into groups, a group captain should certainly contact all absentees each week.
e. A group captain should keep in touch with the associate members. An associate member is a class member who is working elsewhere, but would otherwise be present in the class. Associate members could be Sunday school, departmental superintendents, and other office holders throughout the Sunday school. Oftentimes these people are overlooked in social activities, yet they do have such a need. A group captain should be in contact with these people informing them of class parties, etc.
f. The group captain should remember birthdays, illnesses, and special events. Birthday greetings should be sent by the group captains. The sick should be visited, and special occasions should be remembered.
g. The group captain should let his group be aware of his appreciation. He is a go-between between the teacher and the member. In a real sense, he represents the teacher. He is to the class what the assistant pastor often- items is to the church. He helps solve problems, calm disputes, and keeps the class wholesome and happy.
(5) Sunshine Chairman. Though often called by other titles the sunshine chairman is a very important person in a well-organized class. The duties evolve around the title -- simply the bringing of sunshine into darkened lives.
a. The sunshine chairman should offer food and other help in times of need. This would include the care for the poor, the carrying of food to a family who has lost a loved one, the sending of flowers to funerals, the remembering of birthdays, etc. Especially is the sunshine chairman an important person when the class is not divided into groups. If the class is divided into groups, there may be no need whatsoever for the sunshine chairman.
b. The sunshine chairman should keep the room neat. Once again his job is to bring sunshine into the lives of the pupils. He could arrive early on Sunday to prepare the classroom in such an attractive way that the entire day of the pupils will be brighter. There are many other things that the sunshine chairman could do. Simply think of anything that could bring sunshine or joy into the life of a member and you have thought of a duty for this officer.
(6) Mission Chairman. Of course, when we think of the word “mission,” we immediately think of foreign missions, and around this ministry evolve the basic responsibilities of the mission chairman.
a. The mission chairman should correspond with the missionaries. When letters are received from the mission field, they should be read to the class. In some cases the letters could be copied and each member could receive the information firsthand.
b. The mission chairman should encourage the class to correspond with the missionaries. He should play “cupid” between the missionary and the class member, doing all that he can to keep them aware of each other.
c. He should keep a list of the missionaries’ birthdays and certainly should never forget them. He then should forward this information to each class member. How wonderful it is for a person on the foreign field to receive many birthday cards from home! How often they are forgotten! It is the duty of the mission chairman to see that this is not done.
d. The mission chairman should keep the class informed with facts concerning all missionaries. The class should know something about the activities and even the personal lives of those who represent them on the foreign mission field. When this is done, missionaries become “live” people and foreign mission work becomes alive.
e. The mission chairman should remember the missionaries on special occasions. Anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas, and other special occasions should be remembered by the Sunday school. It is the duty of the mission chairman to see that this is done.
f. The mission chairman should lead the class in a class mission project. This can be done by writing the missionaries and seeking information concerning their needs. Once these needs are known the class should choose a need for its own project. Such projects can put new life and new direction into a Sunday school class. It would certainly encourage the hearts and aid the work of many missionaries.
(7) Social Chairman. People are sociable creatures and demand social life. Such needs can be provided by the teacher, the president, or in some cases, a special officer called the “social chairman.” When such an office is needed, the following social activities should be planned by the social chairman.
a. A monthly class meeting. This provides a regular meeting to which the class members can look with anticipation. It builds comradeship and offers a tremendous substitute for other organizations which Christians should not join. This class meeting does not have to be lengthy, just long enough and well planned enough to make the class members feel brotherly and sisterly toward each other.
b. A quarterly social. Once each three months the social chairman should prepare a very pleasant time of social life for the class members. This does not have to be a stage production, but it should be well planned and well prepared. Here the class can learn to laugh together.
c. A gigantic family party annually. This is the big event of the class year. The families should be invited and it should be something toward which each member would look with delight. A nice banquet could be planned or a big picnic would also fill this need. Some classes have a huge Christmas party. Whenever it is or whatever it is does not matter. What matters is that the class members should have a time of learning to know each other better as well as a time of meeting.
(8) Songleader. Every class that meets without having had a departmental assembly should have a songleader. If the class is a part of a department, then the department should have a songleader. People like to sing, and many people sing well. This is a part in which every person can share, and through which each person can express his own emotions. A good songleader can certainly be used to stir enthusiasm. Sometimes the superintendent is the best songleader available. At other times the teacher could perhaps lead the singing. It is better, however, to find someone other than the aforementioned so as to spread responsibilities of the department.
(9) A Pianist. In each department there should be a
responsible person who plays the piano well. In addition to playing for the
department the pianist could be used in preparing and arranging special
numbers for the department or the class. In some cases this should be done
by the songleader; in other cases, the pianist would be more qualified.
2. The Division of Departments
(1) Bed babies
(2) Toddlers (The child becomes a toddler as soon as he is no longer left in the crib or bed. He remains a toddler until his second birthday.)
(3) Two- and three-year-olds. In this discussion we will say very little about the organization and layout of a church nursery. We will center our attention on the teachable ages of two and up. In the author’s book, The Hyles Church Manual, there is an entire chapter given to the church nursery. Any Sunday school superintendent or pastor would be wise to read carefully the suggestions contained in this chapter. We will limit our suggestions in this discussion by simply saying that the nicest facilities in the church should be given to the nurseries, and unlimited attention, care, planning, preparation, etc., should be given to the nursery facilities. When a child reaches the age of two, however, he is ready to begin his Sunday school life. (In some cases he may approach this era a little younger.) In larger churches and in smaller churches, if at all possible, it is best to divide the two-year-olds from the three-year-olds. The younger a person is, the more changes are made in his life within a year, and the more important it is that he be separated from those of different ages.
It is wise on the nursery level to promote a child on his birthday. In other words, when a child reaches his second birthday, he should immediately go into the nursery department where he can be taught. For all Sunday school pupils above nursery age, Promotion Day is on one particular Sunday each year. The Sunday following the child’s second birthday he is taken to his new surroundings. This means that the two- and three-year-old departments may be small on Promotion Day, but they will continue to grow throughout the entire year.
2. Beginners -- ages four and five
This department completes the preschool children. In smaller churches perhaps they would have to be together in the same department. It is advisable, however, when at all possible, to have different departments (or at least different classes) for each age -- four and five. Up through the age of five it is best to have each department in one large room, with each teacher sitting at a table with his or her class.
3. Primary -- ages six and seven or grades one and two
In some cases the primaries include the eight-year-olds and the 3rd grade. We have found it best, however, to limit the primaries to two grades, and we much prefer the divisions by grades in school rather than by age. Using this method the pupils are more likely to know each other since they are together most of the week at school.
Now when we come to the primary age we find it necessary to divide the boys from the girls, and to give each class its own private room or area. The girls and boys meet together for an opening assembly and then the boys go to classes taught by men and the girls go to classes taught by ladies. From the first grade through high school all boys are taught by men in our Sunday school. Also, all girls are taught by ladies. Most churches will find it necessary to have one primary department with several classes. Larger churches, however, would be very wise to have two primary departments--one for the first grade and another for the second grade with several classes in each department. When a child reaches the first grade he then enters the first time into a department where the assembly is for all the children, but his class is taught in a private room, and the lecture-type teaching methods is used.
4. Juniors -- grades three through six
The departmental and class setup is the same as the primaries. The smaller church may find it necessary to have all of the juniors in one department, but in such cases the division of classes should definitely be made by grade. In other words, all the juniors of the church may meet together for an opening assembly, then there could be a class for 3rd-grade boys and a class for 3rd-grade girls, a class for 4th-grade boys and a class for 4th-grade girls, etc.
When at all possible, it is highly desirable to have a department for each grade and then the classes may be divided into smaller groups in the same grade.
5. Junior High -- grades seven and eight
Again it is desirable to have a department for each grade, but its importance is not as great as that of the beginner, primary and junior-age departments. It is very satisfactory to have one Junior High Department with the classes divided according to grades. Still in larger churches, two departments would be more desirable.
6. High School -- grades nine through twelve
This can be all one department with class division by grades, two departments with class division by grades, or four departments with class division by grades. Of course, each department should be divided into classes.
7. Geographical division of classes
My present pastorate is located in a downtown section. People come from far and near to our Sunday school. Because of this, we find it very helpful to divide the classes by geographical locations. In other words, the members of each class live in the same area. There are several advantages to this. One is that the teacher’s visitation is helped greatly. More visits can be made in a given amount of time because there is less traveling involved between visits. Then too, the class members are more likely to know each other, for they probably attend the same school if they live in the same area.
8. Relaxing the visitors’ grade level by one year
In churches which are able to offer a department for each grade level, enlisting of prospects becomes a problem. For example, I have an eight-year-old daughter. If she can invite only third graders to her department, many of her best friends will not go to the same department when they visit with her in the Sunday school. Because of this we have found it advisable to start the year on Promotion Day with only third graders attending the third grade department. During the year, however, we allow the workers and pupils to invite and enlist boys and girls from one grade under and from one grade over their particular grade level. For example, my eight-year-old daughter, who is in the third grade, can invite second graders and fourth graders to her department. This gives a department three grades to work on instead of one. This, of course, is limited to visitors and new members to Sunday school. She cannot invite those who are from other departments in our Sunday school. This rule applies to all grades through high school. At the end of the year when Promotion Day comes, we once again readjust the entire Sunday school.
Each person is “promoted” to his proper department and repeats the same procedure. We have found this plan very beneficial in the growing of a department and in the increasing of the attendance.
At this writing the departmental division of the First Baptist Church is as follows:
Nursery 1 - bed babies
Nursery 2 - toddlers
Nursery 3 - 2 years
Nursery 4 - 3 years
Beginner 1 - 4 years
Beginner 2 - 5 years
Primary 1 - 1st grade
Primary 2 - 2nd grade
Junior 1 - 3rd and 4th grades
Junior 2 - 5th grade
Junior 3 - 6th grade
Junior High 1 - 7th grade
Junior High 2 - 8th grade
High School 1 - 9th and 10th grades
High School 2 - 11th and 12th grades
3. The Division of Adult Classes
1. The Adult Auditorium Class
Many of America’s largest churches use this plan. It is a very simple one, for all of the adults come to the auditorium and are taught by one teacher. Usually the teacher is the pastor. In some cases, it is simply a large Sunday school class with a Sunday school class atmosphere. Variations of the large auditorium class range all the way from making it like a preaching service with a choir, special music, invitation, etc., to a simple lecture-type class session. In some cases no attempt is made for organization, registration, or even a class roll. There is simply the taking of the offering and the head count. Some Sunday schools have found it profitable to divide the class into groups with group captains overseeing the attendance and growth of the class. Some of the much larger churches have paid staff members who are hired to see that each group grows and that absentees are contacted.
The great advantage of such a plan is the tremendous savings involved as far as buildings and space are concerned. In a church that runs 500 in such a class, it would be necessary to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for a building that would adequately house small departments and classes for the same number of people.
Then there is also a safety factor involved in such a setup. Certainly the class has a qualified teacher, and since the pastor usually is that teacher, he has no fear concerning what is taught to his adults. He can be confident of their loyalty.
This plan also enables the husbands and wives to be together in Sunday school. It enables the adults to stay in one room during the entire Sunday school and preaching services.
On the other hand, the plan has its limitations. Most churches have more than one teacher qualified to teach adults. Hence these talents are not utilized.
Then there is a problem concerning the social life of this class. Class socials for such a large class are difficult to plan. Many churches compensate for this by dividing the class into groups and having group socials and group activities.
Much care should be taken in the utilization of such a plan to make the stranger and the new member feel a part of the class. He does not have the closeness nor the personal touch provided by a smaller class, but this can be overcome by proper organization by the class leadership.
All in all, I feel that this plan should be given some consideration by many by many churches. The small growing church which has limited space should consider the auditorium adult class. The church that is growing so fast that its building cannot keep up with its attendance would find this plan a definite asset. The young church with a limited number of qualified workers no doubt should give consideration to this plan. Though no two churches have the same problems or needs, and though this author feels that no one solution is the answer for the problems of all churches, many great churches in America, both small and large, are finding success in growth through the use of the large auditorium class for adults.
2. The Grading of Adults
In contrast to the aforementioned auditorium class is the complete grading of the adults into departments and classes. Such a plan divides all of the adults into as many departments as space will permit. These departments are divided by age and the classes within the departments are divided by age. Some churches go so far as to have the departments with as few as fifty enrolled. In such a department there would be five classes with ten members each. This enables a large church to have many adult departments with scores of classes. Advocates of this plan would argue convincingly that the absentees can be visited regularly and more personal attention can be given to each pupil. However, this is not the only advantage to such a plan. More people are put to work. The class is more intimate and, consequently, more friendly. Most visitors do not feel as conspicuous in such a class. There is more opportunity to ask questions. It is easier to have group discussion. The members are with those near their same age, etc.
The graded adult plan also has its weaknesses. It requires the church to build nearly twice as many educational buildings and oftentimes tempts the church to give the best facilities to the adults, leaving the leftovers to the children.
There are few churches who have enough qualified workers to give one to each ten adults, and therefore, this often results in inferior teaching on the adult level. Let us never forget, the purpose of the Sunday school is to teach the Word of God. This should not be lost in the forest of social life, personal friendliness, etc. Those who oppose this plan will point to this as its most glaring weakness.
There is one more weakness, however, that should be emphasized. In the graded adult plan the person has one choice and only one concerning his class and teacher. Since he has to go to the department and class for his particular age, he has little choice. He must either (1) like the teacher, (2) not like the teacher, but endure it anyway, or (3) not go to that particular Sunday school.
Many churches have used this plan very effectively. Again let us emphasize that one church may find it advisable to use the auditorium adult class, whereas another church equally as spiritual may decide that it is best for them to departmentalize. Let every church be fully persuaded in its own mind. Just as the same style dress should not be placed on every woman, nor the same suit on every man, likewise the autonomy of the local church should give each church the right to follow her own leadership without coercion or criticism from outside leadership.
3. The Single, Adult Department Plan
This plan is a combination of the two already mentioned. For the opening assembly time all of the adults meet together. This allows for some of the advantages of suggestion 1 -- the auditorium adult class. At the opening assembly special music is presented and a brief program is offered. After about a twenty-minute assembly the department divides into small classes where usually the men and women are divided. When this plan is used, the classes normally are a bit larger than when plan 2 is used. When I was pastor of the Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland, Texas, we had one large adult department with 22 classes. Eleven of these classes were for men; eleven of these classes were for ladies. (We also had one couples’ class.) Each of these 22 classes would have from 20 to 60 enrolled.
This plan, too, has its advantages and disadvantages. It offers the bigness of plan 1 and the intimacy of plan 2. It offers the utilization of more workers than does plan 1, and needs less workers than plan 2. It eliminates the need of many assembly rooms as did plan 1, but it does call for much more space than plan 1 since many classrooms must be provided for the adults.
4. The Class Plan
This provides a number of different classes with little or no age consideration. This provides a choice for each adult. There are several couples’ classes -- some large and some small. There may even be several men’s classes -- some large and some small. A man can choose a men’s class which is small or a men’s class which is large. He can choose to attend a couples’ class which is small or one which is large, or he may even choose a class taught in the auditorium by the pastor. A lady, likewise, can choose a ladies’ class -- large or small -- or a couples’ class -- large or small -- or the auditorium class.
Where there is no definite age grade in such a plan, there does, however, tend to be a gathering together of people in the same age bracket. In my present pastorate, for example, we have a young married ladies’ class. Most of these ladies are in their twenties or early thirties, and in most cases their husbands do not attend Sunday school. However, some ladies older than forty find this class to their liking and attend it. This class would have perhaps sixty enrolled. There is also a small class for adult ladies with about twenty-five enrolled and has an average attendance of less than fifteen. In general, these ladies would be middle-aged or younger, though a lady of any age would be welcome. We then have a large class for middle-aged ladies. Perhaps seventy-five or eighty are enrolled in this class. Though nearly all of them are in their middle ages, it is not surprising to see both young and elderly ladies joining this class. Then we have an elderly ladies’ class with about twenty-five enrolled.
This means that a lady coming to the First Baptist Church Sunday School would normally migrate with the class near her age. She would, however, have the choice of any of the aforementioned classes. Her choice might depend upon the class where her friends attend. She might want to go to a class with her mother or daughter, or she might just like a particular teacher better than the others. It might be that her husband attends Sunday school and they would like to go to a couples’ class. If they so desired, they could attend our young-married couples’ class, which is basically attended by couples thirty-five and under, but which welcomes couples of all ages. On the other hand, the couple might prefer to go to our New Life Class, which is basically a class for middle-aged people, though some young couples do attend. There is still another choice -- the Pastor’s Class in the auditorium, where several hundred people attend. Hence, a lady whose husband attends with her could choose one of seven classes, whereas a man could choose either the men’s class or any one of the couple’s classes.
Furthermore there are many individuals who attend the couples’ classes alone. This is certainly not discouraged.
On the adult level there is never a promotion day. The young couples’ class will some day become the older couples’ class. The young ladies’ class will some day be the older ladies’ class, etc. This means that we are constantly trying to find new ideas for new classes.
There are several advantages to such a plan. As aforementioned there is a choice of classes and teachers. There is a choice concerning the size of class one would want to attend. There is also a choice as to whether to be taught by a layman or the pastor. Since we have only about a dozen adult classes, we are able to utilize our qualified teachers of adults and yet do not find it necessary to use people not especially trained to teach adults. Then, too, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been saved by having hundreds of people meet in the auditorium. A Sunday school building to house the pastor’s present class into departments and classes would cost a half million dollars in the Hammond area.
This plan also incorporates many of the ideas in plans 1, 2, and 3. It has the auditorium class of plan 1, but it has some classes as small as those in plan 2. It utilizes a desirable, yet not excessive, number of teachers as does plan 3.
This eliminates completely the departmental system. There is no adult department. Neither is there an assembly of all the adults. The adults go directly to their individual classes where they have their music, announcements, and lesson. The only unit is the class, and each class is directly answerable and responsible to the Sunday school superintendent or pastor or both.
Following are the names and descriptions of the present adult classes of First Baptist Church of Hammond:
Men’s Bible Class
Friendship Class (young married ladies)
Bethany Class (married ladies)
Fidelis Class (middle-aged ladies)
Faithful Workers’ Class (elderly ladies)
Pastor’s Class (for anyone)
New Life Class (for married couples)
Young Couples’ Class
Unmarried Adults’ Class
Spanish Class (for those who cannot understand English)
Pioneer Class (for unmarried college-age adults)
4. Buildings and Equipment
1. Equipment. Someone has said that one’s environment is a silent, forceful teacher and that the place where people meet on the Lord’s Day to study His Word and to worship has much to do with the effectiveness of what the workers are trying to do. This is certainly true! A list of essential equipment follows:
(1) There should be enough chairs to provide comfortable seating. Much care should be taken in the choosing of these chairs, and if possible, they should be well spaced allowing ample room for each pupil.
(2) Each class needs a substantial table about 28 inches high and 30 inches wide. This table should be between 40 inches and 50 inches long.
(3) Whenever it is possible to have separate rooms, curtains should be on the windows. Where it is not possible to have separate rooms, the classrooms may be divided by curtains.
(4) Each class should have a chalkboard with ample chalk and eraser.
(5) Miscellaneous items. It is good for classes and departments to have songbooks, record material, maps, pictures, vases, etc. It is also very important that hooks for coats and caps be provided somewhere in the back of the room. It is also wise to have a well-tuned piano, pulpits for each teacher, good songbooks, one or two appropriate pictures, a pencil sharpener, etc. Soft, pastel colors should be used for walls and ceilings. It is wise, if at all possible, to have the front wall either darker than the other walls or be covered with a different material. Contrasting woodwork is good.
In other words, since the teaching of the Word of God is the most important thing in all the world, the best equipment possible should be provided for the Sunday school.
Of course, you may not have everything you want. in such a case, just do the best you can with what you have. The person who will not do his best under difficult conditions will also not do his best under ideal conditions. Luke 12:48 says: “...For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required....”
2. Building. Much attention is given to the church building program and the planning of the same in the author’s book, The Hyles Church Manual, published by the Sword of the Lord, price $6.50. The following are some suggested floor plans for Sunday school departments.
1. Talk. The greatest publicity in the world is the tongue. We should certainly take advantage of it. More and more the commercial people are taking advantage of the testimony. “I used a certain brand of deodorant and I finally got married.” “Listerine got my man.” “When I started using a certain mouthwash, I got a raise in pay.” “Folks finally started speaking tome when I used this particular soap.” “I use a certain washing powder and my clothes are the whitest.” “I can’t believe this is a non-caffeine coffee.” These are statements that each of us hears regularly. The secular world has come to realize there is nothing that sells a product quite like the testimony of a satisfied customer. This is also true concerning the church. Enough people talking favorably about the church and her work can sway an entire community’s attitude toward the church. Many times after a wonderful Sunday I will ask my people how many will promise to tell at least five people what God did for us on that day. If a thousand people tell five people each, five thousand people have been influenced simply by the use of the tongue. There is also no doubt that these five will continue to spread the good word until the entire area will know that something is happening at the church. Nothing will take the place of this type of publicity. The church’s advocates should be busy spreading good news as the church’s opponents are spreading bad news.
2. Printed matter. The Sunday school should take advantage of advertising through the printed page. Of course, much care should be taken to see to it that everything that goes out from the church is done properly. A particular staff member or even layman can train to be an expert on proofreading. In the First Baptist Church in Hammond a staff member has been chosen for such a task. It is her job to proofread everything that goes out of the offices. Sentence structure, proper grammar, punctuation, etc., are all checked very carefully, and every attempt is made that goes out from the offices.
Another staff member has been designated as the expert on preparing brochures and other printed matter. One need not be an expert to be appointed to this task. If he has character, he will develop the knowledge and talent necessary. The pastor could tell this staff member or layman what he has in mind. This specialist then draws up a suggestion and sends it back to the pastor for approval. It may be altered, or it may be accepted as is. In some cases it may be completely vetoed, and the specialist draws up another idea.
There are several types of such publicity that may be used.
(1) Brochure. This brochure is given to each person
who moves to our city and to each prospect that we visit.
Much care should be taken to make the ad attractive and acceptable. It is usually best to steer away from anything spectacular and sensational such as announcing unheard-of sermon titles, etc. It is also wise never to use the ad as a means to attack, satire, ridicule, or slander. It should simply be used to inform the people what is going on at the church.
Such an ad may be used to advertise the sermon topics of the Lord’s Day. Much care should be made by the pastor that his sermon fulfills the title. A crowd may be attracted one time by a sensational sermon title, but if the sermon is not as sensational as the title, the people will not return.
In many cities there is a Saturday church page. Some have a Friday church page. The use of this page is very important in the ministry of an evangelistic church. If possible, the fundamental church should have the largest ad on the page. if this is not possible, it should at any rate have the best prepared ad on the page. People should come to associate our churches with efficiency and properness. They may not agree with us in doctrine, convictions, or separation, by they should certainly get the idea that we know where we are going and what we are doing.
In a newspaper ad there should be one thing that
stands out above everything else. Notice the following:
The big headline of the ad should tell the story and
should present the drawing card. So many churches use the word “revival.”
Lost sinners are not looking for revivals. The headline should be something
that catches the attention of the common man.
Notice above that the right ad would appeal to most anyone. The other one would appeal only to those who are already in love with Christ and His work.
The headlines should usually be in thick, bold letters. Small letters may be more eye-catching than larger ones if the print is thicker. Bear in mind that the heavier the black, the more outstanding the white.
Notice that the wrong ad has big lettering but is skinny and does not stand out from the ad, whereas the bolder, blacker print catches one’s eye immediately.
It is best to have a church ad near the margin of the paper. It is even better to have it placed in the corner.
Appropriate pictures should be used regularly for the church ads. Especially is it good to use pictures that are unique and that tell the story of the church and Sunday school. Pictures of people should be used more sparingly. Following you will see several ads that do and some that do not use pictures to their best advantage.
You will notice above that we have used pictures of progress and pictures that tell the story of the First Baptist Church. These are also pictures that deal with the uniqueness of the church. This is a very important feature in advertising. One of our mottos is, “The difference is worth the distance.” Therefore, it is wise to be reminding the people constantly of what the differences are. This should not, of course, be used to point out the weaknesses of sister churches, but rather the strengths of ours.
Of course, such advertising is expensive. There are several ways that such expenses can be raised.
(1) The budget. This is, of course, the best way. Several hundred dollars, or several thousand dollars could be designated from the budget for publicity purposes. This is the painless and easy way.
(2) The Wednesday night offering. Many churches do not have an offering on Wednesday night. Such an offering can be taken and used for advertising. In past times it has been suggested that people give all of the change in their pockets, and this money can be used for publicity.
(3) Departments and classes. Each adult class could be responsible for an ad periodically. Suppose the Sunday school has ten classes and ten departments, then each group would be responsible for the newspaper advertising one week out of twenty.
Advertising pays off. It does not immediately pay for itself, but in the end it will more than do so.
Some Sunday schools and churches will be unable to
afford big ads. This, of course, can be compensated by attractiveness and
proper content. Below are some sample small advertisements.
As the church begins to grow and as the income
increases, more and more should be designated for advertising. As the ads
become larger and larger they will be along the lines of those below:
The pastor should never become offended if his articles are not used. A good relationship should be developed between the church and the news media. Patience and kindness should characterize all of our relationships with the outside world. The news media should know the church and the pastor as the friendliest and most courteous institution and person in town. Occasionally a note of gratitude should be written from the church to responsible authorities of the newspaper and to others who help in the advertising program.
4. The radio. The use of the radio, like the use of the newspaper, will vary in its effectiveness in certain areas. We have a varied radio ministry. At the time of this writing we have a nationwide broadcast presented on approximately fifty stations across America and the Caribbean. This, of course, is a needed ministry, but it does not immediately affect the ministry of the local church. What does affect the ministry of the local church, however, is our daily radio broadcast called “The Pastor’s Study,” which is head locally from 9:00 to 9:30 each weekday morning. In some areas the population listens to the local radio station, but in other areas it is almost completely overlooked. If used properly the local station can be a great help to the church. Following are some suggestions regarding the local broadcast:
(1) It is not usually a good evangelistic ministry. Most of the people who hear religious broadcasts are already Christian people who have a desire to hear the Word preached. Very few unsaved people voluntarily hear a gospel broadcast. The fact is, however, that some do, and enough Gospel should be presented to reach them.
(2) A daily broadcast is usually best. Someone has said that a weekly broadcast promotes the church and that a daily broadcast promotes the preacher. This may or may not be true, but it certainly is true that a daily broadcast can promote both, and it is necessary to do both. It is necessary to do both in order to get people to come to the church to hear the preacher. It is certainly not pride nor sin for a church to attempt to get people to come to hear the preacher. This, of course, must be done within bounds and should not include bragging, boasting, etc. A daily broadcast, if done properly, can be used to acquaint the community with the activities and work of the church so as to arouse curiosity and desire in the hearts of those in the area.
(3) A daily broadcast should include intriguing announcements about the church activities. This is one of the main purposes for a daily broadcast. On Monday morning, for example, we like to read the reports of the previous day. Naturally we stress the good things that happened. We try to whet the appetites of the listeners so that they will have a desire to attend our services. Throughout the week we keep before the people the activities of the coming Sunday, or for that matter, all of the activities of the week. As the week nears its end we stress more heavily the wonderful things to which we are looking on the next Sunday.
(4) The pastor should be a friend of the listener. A personal feeling should exist between the pastor and the radio listener. In a real sense the radio listener should feel that he has a radio pastor. We do some preaching on our daily broadcast, but for the most part it is a folksy, neighborly chat in improving the church’s image as well as the preacher’s image in the community. Many times people get the idea that the fundamental church is hardboiled, and that the preacher trips old ladies as they walk across the street and pushes little children in front of cars. This fallacy can be refuted by a kind, passionate, tender voice coming daily from the church to the community.
(5) Good, well-planned music should be used. From one-third to one-half of the broadcast perhaps should be good gospel music. Well-trained voices should be used and well-rehearsed specials should be presented. It seems unwise to stereotype one’s church in the minds of the community by using anything but good, solid, tested gospel numbers. We have found that the people are blessed and the church is helped by the use of such numbers as “The Old Rugged Cross,” “Rock of Ages,” “At Calvary,” and the songs that have been tested through the years. We stay away from novelty numbers except as an occasional exception. It should definitely be established in the minds of the hearers that the church uses good music and prepares it well. More and more of the secular stations are turning to musical programs. The church could certainly learn a lesson from this and present good, solid, musical numbers on the broadcast.
(6) The name of the broadcast. The naming of the broadcast should come after its format is planned. When the format is established, the broadcast’s name should be descriptive of the format. Since our broadcast comes from the pastor’s study, and is conducted by the pastor as he sits at his desk, we call it simply, “The Pastor’s Study.” We attempt to make the listener feel that he is in the study listening to the pastor. It is a chatty, “howdy-neighbor” kind of a get-together. The name should not be trite or overly used and should be chosen with prayer and care.
(7) The theme. The theme song of the broadcast should be one that helps to tell what is to come. For example, on the Pastor’s Study broadcast, it would be unwise to begin with the singing of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” However, on a broadcast originating in the auditorium of the church, when the entire church service is presented, one would not want to start the broadcast with the theme song, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” The theme song should be appropriate and descriptive. It should be a forerunner of what is to come.
(8) A typical daily broadcast.
a. The theme.
b. Introduction and words of welcome by the pastor.
c. Some special musical number. The pastor should gradually introduce the number. A few words can be said about the song. We avoid such trite statements as, “Here is a beautiful little number,” “Now God bless Mrs. Jones as she comes to sing for us,” etc. Suppose the number is “Does Jesus Care?” The pastor may simply lead into it by saying something like this: “Many of our listeners have burdens and heartaches today. Many times in the midst of burdens and heartaches we wonder if anybody really cares. The world is so busy and people are in such a hurry that so few have time to care and so few who have the time have the heart to do so. We can be thankful to God that there is One who cares. The ladies’ trio now comes to tell you who He is.” Immediately the song is sung. Such is the case of all of the special musical numbers that follow. In some cases the music will be broadcast live. We find it necessary, however, to tape scores of numbers and professionally play them on our daily broadcast. The pastor’s portion is live, but the numbers are played by tape. Proper planning with the radio station in the purchase of proper equipment will make the broadcast seem live. There are multitudes of people who think the singers are actually in the pastor’s study each morning.
d. A thought for the day. We keep several files of thoughts. From various religious periodicals we clip points, provocative thoughts, etc., and use one each morning. We prefer something that is striking and thought-provoking. It may be something concerning a current event that is alarming. It is always something to stir the minds of the listeners.
e. The chuckle for the day. Here is something that we have recently started on our broadcast. This is not a telling of joke, as such, but some little humorous incident that can be told in fifteen to thirty seconds. Usually it is about a preacher or a church. A few days ago I told a little story about a man who brought his dog to church. The preacher made the dog leave. After the service the man gave the preacher $25.00. The preacher could not understand why he had done so, especially since he insisted that the dog leave. He asked the man, “Why did you give me $25.00 after I had made you take your dog out of the services?”
The man replied, “Pastor, it was certainly worth $25.00 for my dog not to have to listen to that sermon.”
Of course, the chuckle should be brief and refreshing or else it would not be wise to have it at all.
f. The second special song.
g. Happy birthday time. It was Pastor Tom Wallace from Elkton, Maryland, that introduced me to this idea. He had used it with great delight. We simply get the birthdays of all of the people we can and call their names on their birthday. The staff comes into the pastor’s study to sing “Happy Birthday” to them. Many look forward to this part of the broadcast each day.
h. “It happened on your birthday.” We try to find interesting things in Christian history as well as secular history that happened on each day of the year. This way we can interest those having birthdays by telling what other famous event took place on their birthday.
i. Third special number. This number is dedicated to those having birthdays.
j. The prayer list. At the first of each broadcast the pastor says a word about those who have need of prayer. He encourages them to call the church office and tell the people of their prayer needs. It is nothing unusual to have sixty or seventy people to call in during the course of the broadcast. The secretaries take the prayer requests, bring them to the pastor, and at prayer list time, he reads each name and each request for prayer. Then he prays for each person by name and by request. This normally takes about seven to eight minutes. This is a wonderful way to be of service to those who have need of prayer.
k. Fourth and last special number. This can be dedicated to those who called in for prayer. This number could be one that is comforting, such as “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” “Rock of Ages,” etc.
l. Message. From five to fifteen minutes may be left for the message if the aforementioned things have been expedited properly. Sometimes the pastor gives the message earlier in the broadcast and then ends with prayer time. This message may come anywhere. For that matter he may get a thought from the reading of “It happened on your birthday,” and he may take five or ten minutes then. Perhaps he may have his mind provoked by the “thought for the day” and take awhile to discuss this and bring his message at that time. In most cases, however, the pastor would want to close the broadcast with his message.
There are other ways in which the church could use the radio. A weekly broadcast may be of benefit. In such a case it should not be as folksy as the one above. It should be a little bigger and a little more impressive.
Some churches use spot announcements to good advantage. This is certainly worth consideration.
For many years I broadcasted my Sunday school class live over a local station. Some churches like to broadcast their services. At any rate, or whatever the type of broadcast, the Sunday school should be stressed over and over again. Probably more people attend the church during the Sunday school hour than during any other hour of the week. This makes it an important time. Certainly the Sunday school should receive the bulk of the advertising on radio. Goals, attendances, drives, pushes, special days, etc., should be kept before the people on every radio broadcast.
Again let us emphasize the importance of doing God’s work properly. The pastor and musicians should take care in the planning of the broadcast. It should be interesting to all and offensive to none as far as presentation is concerned. We may offend people by our convictions but let us not be offensive by doing God’s work in a lackadaisical way. It is the most important work in the world; let us treat it as such.
5. Church Signs. The first impression that many people get of a local church is from signs. Because of that, much care and preparation should be taken in the choosing and purchasing of church signs.
(1) The sign should be proportionate in size with the church plant. The church with a large physical plant should have a sign proportionately large. A church with a small plant should, of course, have a sign in ration with the size of the building.
(2) The sign should be professionally planned and made. Literally thousands of church signs need painting and even editing. It is unbelievable that some churches even misspell the name of their church. I have seen Baptist spelled “Babtist” and “Babptist.”
In other cases, the sign is so old or so poorly done that people cannot read the printing. In some other cases the church does not even have a sign. This is completely unbelievable and yet true.
(3) Sensationalism, deceit, and provocation should be omitted on the church sign. The sign is not to preach a sermon. It is simply to identify the church. Many signs are so provocative that they prevent people from coming to the services. The church can state her position in such short, terse language on a sign so as to keep people from hearing that position as preached in power and energy of the Holy Spirit from the pulpit. How tragic! It is also wise for the sign to be very honest in its content. A church could be the fastest-growing church in town and words to that effect could be placed on the sign (though I doubt the wisdom of this). The next year, however, the church may not grow as rapidly. The sign could become dishonest. The church should always be honest with the public and never in the least deceitful. The product should always contain the contents listed on the cover. This is especially true in the Lord’s work.
(4) There are many different types of signs that can be utilized in the life of a church:
a. The changeable copy panel. A nice, conservative changeable sign used to advertise the current work, activities, and ministry of the church can oftentimes be of benefit. Much care should be taken that this sign does not look like a theatre marquee. Hence, it probably should not be located over the main entrance, and it should be much more conservative than a theatre-type marquee. A flat, solid, changeable copy panel is preferable for a church. Some churches find it beneficial to have the main permanent sign and changeable sign in one unit. Regardless of the size, shape, and location of the changeable sign, it should be used only for advertisement, inspiration, etc. It could announce the coming of special speakers or the title of Sunday’s message. Again, sensationalism should usually be avoided. To say the least, sermon subjects on the sign should never be exaggerated, and the sermon contents should certainly be up to the announced sermon subject.
The following are some advertisements that have been
used on the changeable sign of the First Baptist Church of Hammond.
Sunday, January 12 7:00 p.m.
Helpful Lessons on Marriage Taught by Pastor Hyles Sundays at 9:40 a.m. & 6:00 p.m.
Unique Old-Fashioned Service Sunday, October 23 7:00 p.m.
“Let’s Go Soul Winning with Jack Hyles” WYCA
9:00 a.m. Sat. WJOB 8:00 a.m. Sun. Heard over 40 Stations
Free Bus Service 53 Routes Covering the
Calumet Call 932-0711
Speaking Here Sunday, October 29 Dr. R. G. Lee of Memphis 10:50 a.m. 7:00 p.m.
Adult Rally with Dr. Bill Rice Sunday, Aug. 7
Preaching the Gospel Here Since 1887
Preaching a Literal Heaven and Hell Sunday
Services 10:50 - 7:00 p.m.
b. Church buses.
Many churches utilize buses in their transportation program. When this is done, these buses should be attractively painted. Each bus should become a rolling signboard. It is best to steer away from spectacularism, but certainly some good advertisement could be used in the publicizing of the church as the buses roll through the streets of the city. At this writing the First Baptist Church of Hammond operates 60 bus routes. This gives us 60 rolling signboards which cover the city of Hammond. Not only do they advertise the church on Sunday, but throughout the entire week. These buses are not serviced at the same service stations or garages, but rather at strategic locations throughout the entire area. This means that these 60 church buses are parked all over, giving us 60 billboards. Again let me emphasize the importance of
the lettering and painting being professionally done and well done. At times it might be wise to ask someone just to drive the buses around town. Think how many people can see one church bus in a day’s time as it is driven up and down the streets of the city.
c. Miscellaneous signs.
Some churches have utilized the advertising space of park benches. Others have purchased the space on sides or backs of city buses. Still others have front license plates for the cars of their members. (This is done only in states which do not use state license tags on the front as well as the back.) We have found it wise to have the church’s name neatly engraved on the back of the custodian’s uniforms. Over and over again we are simply saying: Keep the name of the church before the people all the time. A community should always be church-conscious, and the fundamental church should take the lead in advertising.
6. Letters. The Sunday school should make much use of
the mail. Hundreds of thousands of letters from the First Baptist Church of
Hammond are sent each year. Seldom is the week when hundreds of letters are
not sent through the mail. Sometimes these are church wide mailings. In
other cases they are mailed to departments or even classes. Samples of such
6. Sunday Morning Schedule
1. The teacher should get up early enough so as to avoid any rushing.
2. The teacher should brush over his lesson for the task at hand.
3. He should dress himself properly so as to be a good example.
4. He should arrive fifteen minutes early to prepare the classroom and the pupil for the lesson.
5. He should then stand at the door to greet the class members as they enter.
6. The teacher should properly meet and greet all visitors before the starting of the opening assembly or the class.
7. Perhaps the sunshine chairman has arrived by now to add some sunshine and cheer to the class.
8. The vice-president is at the back of the room or at the door of the room sharing with others the privilege of greeting the members and visitors as they enter.
9. The secretary is passing out the envelopes, membership slips, and visitor’s cards.
10. The vice-president may be introducing the visitors to other members as they come in. All of this together makes them feel at home.
11. The pianist has arrived at least ten minutes early and is playing the prelude. The prelude should be one that moves along rapidly and one which creates a spirit of fellowship in the class.
12. The songleader has also arrived early enough to pick out the songs and discuss them with the pianist.
13. At the exact starting time (not one minute later) the superintendent should call the department to order and introduce the music director who in turn leads in a well-planned congregational song. Well-known choruses can be used. Certainly all songs should be familiar to the majority of the people.
14. The departmental superintendent then presents a well-planned, brief opening assembly. This opening assembly should include adequate welcoming of visitors. It may or may not tie in with the lesson, but it certainly should be something pertinent to the needs of the pupils. The entire opening exercise in the departmental assembly room should last no longer than ten minutes. For a Sunday school that lasts one hour, this gives ten minutes for time spent in going to the classes and in business.
In the opening assembly time, the superintendent should certainly promote attendance for future Sundays, give honor to those who have done good jobs in the past, and instill and inspire in the hearts of the pupils the desire to bring others with them.
15. The teacher then stands at the door of the classroom and welcomes the pupils as they enter. In case there is no opening assembly in the department, things aforementioned should be done such as passing out of envelopes, the vice-president welcoming the visitors, etc.
16. The teacher or president calls the class to order. This should, of course, be done in a winning way and should immediately be impressive to members and visitors alike.
17. Much attention should be given to the visitors. They may be introduced by the teacher, the president , the vice-president, or the group captain. Whoever does it should be effervescent in his welcome.
18. Class business. This should be limited basically to the announcements. All planning of socials and extracurricular activities should be done prior to class time, and business cared for in the class should be limited to announcements, simple promotion, etc.
19. The teaching of the lesson. The president introduces the teacher. The teacher puts his heart, mind, body, and soul into the teaching of the Word of God. His lesson should include a title, a point of contact, body or general teaching, a conclusion, and an appeal.
20. The class may close with a report of the secretary and others if needed, such people as mission chairman, sunshine chairman, social chairman, etc. As mentioned in another chapter, the reports should be limited to thirty seconds or less.
At the end of the class the members should be told about the preaching service and should be encouraged to attend.
This sums up the activities of a Sunday morning. Certainly other things could and should be added, and in some cases, some of these suggestions could be omitted. The purpose of this chapter is not necessarily to tell the Sunday school superintendent and teachers what to do, but rather to impress upon them the importance of doing well what they do. The teaching of the Word of God is the biggest thing in all the world. Let us treat it as such.
7. The Enlistment and Qualifications
of Sunday School Teachers
A number of years ago one of our staff members was enlisting a Sunday school worker outside the teachers’ and officers’ meeting in the hallway. I overheard the conversation and immediately called this staff member to my office for a conference. I asked, “Do you think the Hammond school board chooses schoolteachers that way?”
Of course, the answer was, “No.”
“If you were on the school board, would you choose teachers that way?”
Again the answer was, “No.”
“Then do you think the schoolteachers are more important than Sunday school teachers?”
The answer again was, “No.”
“Why then,” I asked, “would you give more care in the selection of a schoolteacher than one who teaches the Word of God?”
Oh, when will God’s people realize that the biggest thing in all the world is God’s business -- the teaching of God’s Word and the carrying out of God’s program.
1. The pastor and/or the Sunday school superintendent should check the the church roll regularly for prospective teachers.
Each person on the roll should be carefully and regularly considered for a teaching position. This gives all equal opportunity and prevents the overlooking of anyone.
2. A list of prospective teachers should be kept.
As the roll is being checked the names of good teaching prospects should be listed. Then these people should be carefully observed and checked before being contacted about teaching.
3. Enlisting should be done at the prospect’s home or in the church office.
This is no task to be cared for by telephone. Neither is this a little, casual job to be looked upon lightly. The visit should be highly spiritual, very serious, and in a spirit of prayer. It should be done with a dignity of a personnel office of a big corporation choosing a key man for a position. The one doing the enlisting should carefully explain to the prospective worker that he has prayed about a vacancy in the Sunday school and that he believes God has led him to that individual.
4. The conversation should be begun with prayer. The person doing the enlisting should do the praying, asking for God to lead in the discussion and the decision that is soon to be made. Remember this is God’s business; we need His help and leadership.
5. The work should be presented to the prospective teacher. He should be told that the job will not be an easy one, but a hard one. He should be challenged by the task. People respond better to a real challenge. Such statements as these should not be used: “Oh, it is easy.” “Anybody could do it.” “It won’t take much time.” Instead such statements as these should be used: “This is a very important job.” “It will definitely take much of your time.” “We will ask you to keep certain rules and perform certain duties.” Teaching Sunday school is not a job for an inexperienced baby-sitter, rather for a diligent teacher of the Word of God. One does not have to have a seminary degree or a Bible college diploma, but he should have a definite understanding that he is expected to do a job and to do it well and that the job is both rewarding and exacting.
6. Present the duties to the prospective teacher.
He should be told about the size of the class, visiting of the absentees, the faithfulness to the class, the hour of the Teachers’ and Officers’ Meeting, the location of the classroom, etc. No stones should be left unturned in the presentation of these duties. It is better to have a good understanding before the enlistment than a misunderstanding after the enlistment.
7. Present clearly the qualifications for teaching in the Sunday school. They are as follows:
(1) Live a separated life. No one should teach in the Sunday school who is not separate from the world. Certainly no one should be allowed to teach in the Sunday school who drinks alcoholic beverages in any form. No one should be allowed to teach in the Sunday school who uses tobacco in any form. No one should be allowed to teach in the Sunday school who frequents such places as the theatre, dances, card parties, etc. Needless to say, the things listed above do not complete the list of qualifications of separation. Perhaps each church would have her own peculiar convictions that should be included. Now these convictions should not be simply preferences, and they should not be simply pet peeves of a few biased church members, but rather the deep-rooted convictions of the church and pastor.
(2) Be a tither. Malachi reminds that failing to tithe is robbing God. Jesus commends tithing, and no one should teach in the Sunday school who does not practice this Bible command.
(3) Be faithful to the public services of the church. It should be explained that the teachers are expected to bin the Sunday school, to attend the Sunday morning service, the Sunday evening service, and the Wednesday evening service. Those in places of leadership should set the example for those who follow. This example should certainly include faithfulness to the public services.
(4) Be loyal to the pastor and the church program. This does not mean that the teacher must believe everything that the pastor believes, or even agree with everything that the church does in its program. It does mean, however, that as long as there is no moral issue involved, the person will cooperate with the desires of the majority and be loyal to the pastor as he presents this program under God. Perhaps the most important qualification for “followship” is loyalty.
(5) Be faithful to the class. It should be explained to the prospective teacher that he would be expected to be in the class regularly. Now there will be a few Sundays in a year that a person would be on vacation, sick, or on a necessary weekend trip. However, people who have to go out of town for one weekend a month certainly should not be considered as prospective teachers.
(6) Be doctrinally sound. There should be no doubt regarding the soundness of the teacher doctrinally. He should be in complete agreement with the articles of faith and the doctrinal position of the church.
7) Be willing to seek lost souls. Now many Sunday school teachers do not win people to Christ every week. It may be that a person will chosen to teach a Sunday school class who has never won a soul. He should, however, voice his desire to be a soul winner and his intentions of becoming one as he is led and trained by the pastor.
(8) Be converted and be a member of this particular local church. It might be unnecessary for some leaders to include this in a chapter on requirements for teachers. It might be shocking, however, to some if they knew how many people teach Sunday school in churches and yet do not hold membership in the church where they teach. This is a very unwise practice.
(9) Attend the Teachers’ and Officers’ Meetings. At our church we have a weekly Teachers’ and Officers’ Meeting. Attendance at this meeting is a requirement for those enlisted to teach. If a person works on Wednesday night, he then is used only as a substitute teacher. Only those who find it possible to attend our Wednesday evening Teachers’ and Officers’ Meeting are chosen for regular teaching positions.
(10) Visit the absentees. It is explained to every prospective teacher that one of his duties is to visit the absentees in his class. The most important absentee to visit is the one who was absent last Sunday for the first time. I have often heard pastors say that the first absence requires a letter or a postcard; the second absence, a telephone call; and the third absence a visit. This certainly is contrary to our philosophy. We feel that a visit for the first absence might prevent the second absence.
(11) Contact the departmental superintendent on Wednesday night if unable to be in the class on Sunday. This is a very vital duty and requirement. It is unthinkable that a teacher of the Word of God and a leader of young lives would just casually be absent without notifying anyone at all. It is nearly as unthinkable that a teacher would call late in the week concerning an absence the following Sunday. This is practically an unpardonable sin! It should be clearly understood by the prospective teacher that faithfulness is a requirement; but when an emergency comes up or a necessary trip is to be made, the superintendent should be contacted no later than Wednesday evening.
There are other qualifications that perhaps would vary with each local situation, and there are other qualifications that perhaps we should have mentioned with the appropriate notes above. The important thing, however, is to have qualifications and present them clearly and plainly to the prospective worker.
8. The conversation should be closed with prayer. The person doing the enlisting should ask God to give wisdom to the prospective worker and thank Him for the nice visit. Before leaving, the prospective worker should be asked to pray for a few days (not more than a week) about the opportunities presented. It is usually best not to get an answer immediately, but to give him time to solidify his decision and know the mind of God.
9. Kindness and gentleness should prevail during the conversation. Some of the above qualifications, duties, etc., may seem to be a bit hard on paper, but in no case should the pastor, Sunday school superintendent, or person who is doing the enlisting be harsh, unkind, rude, or excessively frank.
Following is a typical conversation between the person
doing the enlisting and the person being enlisted:
Mrs. McKinney: Please come in, Mrs.-----. I appreciate your keeping this appointment with me. Won’t you sit down here? I’ll sit here.
When I called and asked you for an appointment to meet with me, I told you that it is one of my duties to enlist workers for our Sunday school. You have probably guessed that I would like to talk with you about the possibility of working in our Sunday school. Before we go any further, let me tell you that I have asked Brother Hyles for his approval to talk with you about teaching, and he has given that approval. Before we begin our conversation, let’s bow our heads now for a word of prayer.
(There is a short prayer asking for the Lord’s guidance in conversation and in decision making.)
Mrs.-----, we very carefully choose those whom we wish to work with us in our Sunday school. This is the Lord’s business, and we want the right people to work in it. We do not look for people, necessarily, who have had experience in teaching or who think that they are good teachers. Since the Lord can enable us to do whatever He wants us to do, we do not worry whether prospective teachers have teaching ability or not. We are concerned for getting the Word of God into the minds and hearts of children and adults. Now I have said that we are not concerned with previous teaching experience when we ask a person to teach in our Sunday school. We are concerned, however, with other qualifications. There are certain requirements which must be met by each person before he is a teacher, and there are certain duties that each teacher must fulfill.
Let’s discuss these requirements and duties for a few
moments. We have mimeographed a list of the requirements so that you can see
them while we discuss them. (The following form is then given to the
Secondly, we require that any prospective worker in our Sunday school must now be giving strict adherence to the church’s policy concerning separation from the world. Naturally, if we are handling the Word of God and teaching how Jesus would have us live, we must be doing all that we can to be clean vessels and to be living as Jesus would have us live. We do not think that you drink liquor or that you smoke or that you dance or that you play cards or that you go to the movies. If you do any of these things and we are not aware of it, then, I’m sorry, we cannot use you on our Sunday school staff. Can you say that you meet this requirement of separation from the world?
Mrs.-----: Yes, I meet this requirement. I do not smoke or drink or dance or play cards or go to movies.
Mrs. McKinney: Our third requirement is that every teacher in our Sunday school
be a tither. Our pastor makes it plain that neither he nor any other person in the church office knows how much a person gives, but we believe that tithing is the Bible way of giving. Do you give a tithe of your income to the Lord?
Mrs.-----: Yes, we tithe.
Mrs. McKinney: We require of our Sunday school teachers that they be loyal to the present program of the First Baptist Church. We do not mean by this that they have to blindly follow every opinion that is stated apart from doctrinal beliefs, but that they would never speak against any phase of its work to any other person. Concerning doctrine, we ask that they agree in every point as they have heard it preached from the Bible.
Our teachers must, of course, believe that the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God and that men wrote the Bible as they were led by the Holy Spirit.
Now, Mrs.-----, are you in accord with our soul-winning emphasis, our doctrinal stand, and the program of our church?
Mrs.-----: We agree wholeheartedly with the preaching and the program here.
Mrs. McKinney: Very good. Now, it goes without saying that we expect of our Sunday school teachers faithfulness in their attendance to Sunday school. Unless illness prevents or the vacation period includes a Sunday, we expect our teachers to be in their places every Sunday ready to teach their classes. If for any reason a teacher has to be absent, the departmental superintendent must know, it at all possible, by the previous Wednesday night so that a general teacher can be prepared to take the class. As soon as it is apparent that he cannot be present in Sunday school, each teacher must let the superintendent know this.
We have a weekly teachers’ meeting. The meeting is held on Wednesday evenings. We eat a meal together at 6:00 and begin the meeting at 6:30. We do not require that our teachers be present for the meal, although it is a good idea to plan to come for convenience sake, but they must be present every Wednesday night just as faithfully as they are present for Sunday school. At the teachers’ meeting, plans for the coming Sunday and other future plans are discussed. The Sunday school lessons are distributed at the teachers’ meeting and then the lesson is discussed by the pastor in the hearing of teachers who are in Junior I and older departments. Teachers who are in the Primary II and younger departments meet individually and discuss the lesson with their superintendents, because there is a little different approach for them to the same lesson material. After the discussion of the lesson the group divides into a methods session. A visual aid method appropriate to each teaching level is presented in these groups.
Can you be present at the teachers’ meetings on Wednesday evening?
Mrs.-----: Yes, I can come. I will also be able to come for the meal. What do you do--furnish dishes potluck style?
Mrs. McKinney: It is a modified potluck style. The meat dish is ordered by someone in the church office and the teachers bring salad and vegetable dishes to accompany the main dish. A fifty-cent charge is placed upon the meat for each person. You will be interested in knowing that the entire family is invited to come and eat with us. When the meeting begins, the children and teenagers have their choir programs so that they are cared for while the teachers have their meeting. We have one last requirement for our teachers. Because it is mention- ed last, please do not think that it is unimportant. It is very important! We ask that every teacher in the Sunday school set aside some time each week for visitation in the homes of his or her pupils. Visits should be made particularly upon those pupils who were absent the most recent Sunday. Can you arrange your schedule so that you will have regular weekly visitation upon your class?
Mrs.-----: Yes, I can.
Mrs. McKinney: Mrs.-----, we would be most happy to have you join the teaching staff of our church. We have an immediate need for a teacher of a girls’ class in the Junior II department of our Sunday school. Mrs. Meredith Plopper is the superintendent of that department. I would like to be able to inform her that I have found the teacher that she needs there. May I enlist you to work there and to teach a class of fifth-grade girls?
Mrs.-----: Yes, I would like to teach there.
Mrs. McKinney: Can you start immediately? Will you be able to attend your first teachers’ meeting this coming Wednesday evening?
Mrs.-----: Yes, I can be there, and I will gladly begin immediately.
Mrs. McKinney: All right. I will tell Mrs. Sandi Plopper to inform the pastor that you will be there. If there is an emergency of any kind that prevents your coming to that meeting, will you let me know before Wednesday morning?
Mrs. -----: All right, I will.
Mrs. McKinney: If you have not seen the Junior II department, I would like to show it to you now. Would you like to look into it?
Mrs. -----: I think that I know where the department is located, but I have never been inside it.
Mrs. McKinney: Then, let’s go look at it. We go this
8. The Teachers’ and Officers’
6:00 to 6:30 Meal
6:30 to 6:50 Promotion and Inspiration
6:50 to 7:10 The Teaching of the Lesson
7:10 to 7:30 Instructions of Teaching the Lesson
(Instructions are given to teachers of each departmental level as to how to
apply Sunday’s lesson to the particular grade level involved.)
The weekly meeting also affords the pastor the opportunity of recognizing those who have done good jobs and inspiring those who have not. Classes and departments that are growing receive deserved recognition. Those that are not doing well receive ideas that will help them to do a better job for Christ.
This meeting also offers a time for Christian fellowship. It is a time when the saints are happy and joy prevails.
One of the finest things about such a meeting is that it insures a good attendance at the midweek service. Since our Teachers’ and Officers’ Meeting is conducted on Wednesday evening from 6:00 to 7:30, we have a nucleus of 275 ready to attend our midweek service.
There are many other splendid reasons for a weekly teachers’ meeting, and the churches in America that are doing the best job realize this fact.
1. The meal - 6:00 to 6:30
The meal is provided for the workers in order that they may be able to attend such an early meeting. Our people live all over Calumet-Chicagoland area. Many of them work twenty to forty miles from home. It would be impossible for them to go home, prepare dinner, and get ready for a teachers’ meeting that starts at 6:00 or even 6:30. Hence, they can come from work. Those who possibly can are asked to bring a dish. This can be a salad or vegetable. This means that all the church has to provide is the meat. As the workers come in they place their covered dishes on the serving table. Hot meat is already there as well as bread and other staples. These are also provided by the church. These things are paid for by an offering taken at the end of the meal. We ask each person to give fifty cents if possible. Some do; some don’t. Some can; some can’t. No pressure is exerted. No embarrassment is present for those who do not or cannot give.
During this thirty-minute period, the people are happy. There is a sweet spirit of fellowship, and our hearts being blended together in preparation for the meeting to follow.
2. The promotion - 6:30 to 6:50
Immediately after the meal the teachers are assembled
in the church chapel for a period of inspiration and promotion. Each worker
is given a copy of the Sunday school Echoes. A sample is seen below.
Each worker is requested to register attendance on the
card shown below.
3. The Teaching of the Lesson - 6:50 to 7:10
During this time the pastor teaches the Sunday school
lesson. A rather lengthy outline is given to each teacher. See an example
The pastor also goes through the outline with the teachers and tells them what he would like for them to stress the next Sunday. It may be that a certain part of the lesson is more appropriate for high schoolers and another part should be stressed to the adults. It may be that a portion of the lesson is not applicable to children. He will make some suggestions as to what to teach each age and how to teach juniors, junior highers, high schoolers, and adults. Other trained people do the same for the teachers of primaries, beginners, and nursery children.
4. The Application of the Lesson - 7:10 to 7:30
During this time the teachers go to their own departmental level where an expert will teach the teachers of juniors how to apply to their students what the pastor has just taught them. This same plan applies to all age groups. Here visual aids are suggested, applications are given, psychological helps in reaching each particular age level are presented, and in general, the facts which were taught in the previous twenty minutes are made interesting to each particular age level.
5. Three Outlines are presented each week.
As seen previously we present an outline to those who
teach juniors and up. Still another outline is presented to those who teach
primaries. See below:
It should be a very impressive meeting. It should be comparable to a meeting of the President’s Cabinet, the Board of Eastern Airlines, a City Council meeting, or a sales meeting for a big firm. It should be planned well, started on time, and should definitely appear to be the big-league meeting that it really is.
7. The Teachers’ Meeting should not overlap with the midweek service.
In fact, nothing should overlap with any of the public
services of the church. The Teachers’ Meeting should end on time, and the
workers should come straight to the auditorium for the midweek hour.
Loitering should be discouraged. The midweek service should be started on
time with all of the teachers and officers in their places.
9. Proper Preparation
1. The teacher should prepare himself physically to teach. Of course, every Christian should bear in mind that his body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, he should keep his body clean, pure, and fit for the Master’s use. Several things should be remembered about the care for the body.
(1) Proper diet. The body is only as strong as its fuel. Most people care more about the health of their dogs and livestock than they do their children and themselves. The Christian should realize that the only thing he has in which to serve God is his body. Because of this he should put only the best fuel in his body. I discovered a long time ago that I could run better without coffee than with coffee and without carbonated drinks than with carbonated drinks. I discovered that there was more energy in a glass of orange juice than in a cola and more stimulant in a spoonful of honey than in a cup of coffee. A person can do more for God on a high protein, low-fat diet, fresh vegetables, and fruit. Fruit and juices should be included in one’s diet if he is to be at his best physically for his Lord. I personally am not much of a pork eater.
I also try not to overeat. “For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags” (Proverbs 23:21). We are reminded to eat everything we eat for the glory of God: “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31). We are to eat with thanksgiving: “...and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth” (I Timothy 4:3).
Then, too, there should be times when a Christian eats nothing. Fasting is certainly a Bible doctrine. A spiritual fasting enhances not only one’s health but also his spiritual power.
“And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.” - Nehemiah 1:4.
“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.” - Ezra 8:21.
“So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.” - Jonah 3:5.
“And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.” - Matthew 4:2.
“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy
Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have
called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on
them, they sent them away.” - Acts 13:2, 3.
(2) Proper exercise. Doctors tell us that it is very important that we exercise our bodies as we grow older. This, of course, can be done through sports such as golf, bowling, or even more active competitive sports. Many of us do not have time, however, or at least do not take time for such activities. I have found it helpful to do ten or fifteen minutes of calisthenics some time in the morning. My schedule is as follows: approximately 500 steps running in place, ten deep-knee bends, ten touching of the toes, ten sit-ups, ten rocker exercises, ten pushups, and a few miscellaneous exercises chosen as needed. Perhaps the most important of these is the running. People who actively participate in some sport may find this unnecessary, but it is necessary to have some form of exercise in order to be in proper health.
(3) Proper rest. Some people require more sleep than others. Some people can operate very effectively on five hours’ sleep a night while others require ten. Each Christian should find his own needs. I find that if I can average seven hours’ sleep a night, I can operate at peak efficiency. There are times when I do not come close to this. Hence, the seven hours are not needed for me, but to be at my best, seven hours is necessary. The Christian should learn also to relax wherever he is. My wife laughs often about the fact that I can go to sleep anywhere. I sleep while traveling on airplanes, lying on the sofa, listening to the news, sitting up in a chair, etc. Some people find it wise to take a nap each afternoon. If this is done, it should be complete relaxation. The shoes should be taken off, tight clothing should be removed, and complete relaxation should be enjoyed. There are many other things that a Christian should do in order to keep his body healthy to the glory of God. Discipline is very important in the life of a Christian, and it should be exercised rigidly.
2. Preparation mentally to teach. By this we mean the proper preparation of one’s mind. To do this one must discipline himself physically. The mind and the body work so closely together that it is almost necessary for one to have a strong body if he is to have a strong mind. We all know exceptions to this to this rule, but they are exceptions rather than the rule. A successful preacher or teacher should have mental alertness, accumulation, and knowledge. This, of course, requires as much formal education as is wise, proper, and possible. It should also include a general knowledge of facts, especially current events. I read such magazines as Reader’s Digest, National Geographic, Nation’s Business and even Better Homes and Gardens in order to acquaint myself with facts concerning the work and interests of my members. It is always wise for a Christian to have knowledge on various subjects. The reading of a newspaper is also helpful here. Then, too, proper preparation of the lesson material is highly important.
3. Prepare spiritually to teach. Once again, some of this is covered in the chapter on “Weekday Duties of the Teacher.” Daily Bible readings, daily prayer, separated lives, etc., are vital for spiritual preparation. However, one should certainly walk in the Spirit more and more as he approaches Sunday. It has long been my policy to take care of personal and church business the first part of the week, gradually steering away from such matters and toward spiritual matters such as soul winning, Bible study, and prayer as I approach the Lord’s Day.
Proper preparation would certainly include such things
as getting to bed early enough on Saturday evening, getting up early enough
on Sunday morning, brushing over the lesson before going to the class,
avoiding being rushed on Sunday morning, etc.
1. Great all class members as they come into the departmental assembly and as they come into the class. A warm handshake, a friendly smile, a little chatting about what the pupil has done through the week, will always make for a better lesson. Remember that Jesus took people from where they were to where He wanted them. When He talked to the woman at the well, He talked first about water and then about the story of salvation. For a teacher to pal with the pupil before the lesson is very wise and certainly prepares the pupil for the lesson.
2. Meet all visitors before class. Since the teacher is there early, he should give a warm, friendly, and effervescent welcome to each visitor. He should write down the name of the visitor as well as interesting facts about the visitor that he might present to the class. Such information as where he lives, what church he attends, with whom he as where he lives, what church he attends, with whom he came, etc., should be secured by the teacher before the class or department ever starts. Win the visitor yourself immediately! This is a must!
3. Properly introduce the visitors in class. Visitors in a small class should not be required to stand and give their names and addresses. The teacher should have the names already written down along with interesting facts about them. When he informs the class that it is time to recognize the visitors, each name is read as well as the facts about each visitor. The visitor stands and is warmly welcomed by the teacher, president, or some other designated class member.
4. Try to enlist the visitors as new members. “Hold what you have and get some more” should be the philosophy of the Sunday school. Somebody has said that the Sunday school should be the easiest thing in the world to join and the hardest thing to get out of. Do not overly coerce the visitors to join, but let them know that you hope that they will and that you would be honored if they do so.
5. Do not spend over five minutes on announcements and business. In our pastorates this has been an unpardonable sin. The purpose of the Sunday school is not to plan a social, but to teach the Word of God. Socials should not be planned in class; they should be planned outside of class with only the announcements being made in class. A long, laborious business time will certainly cause the teacher to lose his pupils and cause the pupils to lose their interest.
6. Take the pupil from where he is. This is why it is important to chat with the pupils before the class session, visit their homes, etc. This enables us to find out their interests. The lesson should begin with them in mind. Then gradually the teacher moves from their position to his as he teaches the lesson.
Added to these points should be all of those mentioned
in the chapter on “Weekday Duties of the Teacher.” Don’t forget to prepare
2. Read Scripture passages at least ten times. In order to become well acquainted with the material a teacher should first learn all the facts about the lesson. He should learn the names, the places, the story, etc. This can be done on the first reading. Then he should read the main portion of Scripture, write down any thought that comes to mind and take it in faith that God gave it to you. If the average Christian would read the passage of Scripture ten times writing down every thought he gets about the lesson, he would have enough material already prepared to present a good lesson.
These ten readings of the Scripture should be without helps, without a concordance, without a Bible dictionary, and without a commentary.
3. Read the Scripture looking for Jesus. Very carefully go through the Scriptures looking for pictures of the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, the Bible is a book about Him! It is a picture of Him. We should always look for Him in the reading of the Word.
4. Read it looking for proper names, numbers, colors, symbols, types, etc. It is infinitely more important to teach what the Bible says and what it obviously means than to look too far beneath the surface. However, in the teaching of adults it may be interesting to discuss types, numbers, etc. Especially is it important to look up the meaning of proper names. In the Bible these often have special significance.
5. Read the lesson with a list of the pupils in hand. As you read the Scriptures, look at the names of your pupils. See if there is any particular application that should be made to help each of them. This is certainly an important part of preparation. It is easy to build a hospital and forget the patients. It is easy to build a school and forget the pupils. It is easy to teach a lesson and lose sight of the main purpose, which is the applying of the truth to the pupil.
6. Finally, read the lesson with helps. Such helps should include a good concordance (I have used Cruden’s through the years), a good Bible dictionary (Davis’ and Cruden’s are excellent ones), and if possible, a commentary. Notice that we are not finding out what others say about the Bible until we have found out what the Bible says to us.
7. Read carefully the literature provided by the church. This, of course, should be a help and not a crutch. In some cases it may be a quarterly. We provide a mimeographed outline for the teachers.
8. With all of the above accumulation of facts, the teacher then should prepare his own outline. This probably should be done on Saturday or at least toward the end of the week.
9. Brush over the lesson again on Sunday morning. Each teacher should allow himself from five to fifteen minutes each Sunday morning simply to reread his outline and reabsorb the lesson material.
With a prayer on his lips and a prepared body, mind,
and spirit, the teacher may then approach his class in order to prepare his
pupils for his prepared lesson.
10. The Weekday Duties of the
Teaching a Sunday school class is more than just a Sunday morning job. It is a seven-day-a-week job. In this chapter we shall discuss at least some of the things that a teacher should do during the weekdays.
1. Continually study the lesson. In nearly every Sunday school what the lessons are to be about is known for weeks ahead of time. This allows the teacher to start studying the next lesson immediately after one lesson is presented. So much preparation should be done during the week that the teacher is simply filled with lesson material. He should know much more than he could ever teach in one class session.
2. Have a daily private devotion. It is entirely possible for one to be a good preacher and not to be a good Christian. It is also possible for one to be a good teacher and not be a good Christian. In other words, the mechanics of the lesson and the mechanics of teaching could be completely conquered, and yet if the teacher’s heart is cold, his teaching will be as sounding brass and tinkling cymbal. Every day at the same time a successful teacher will have a time of private devotion. This should include a systematic reading and study of the Word of God along with a season of prayer.
In addition to this, each teacher should certainly lead his family in establishing family devotions. Some call this a family altar, some call it family worship. Whatever it is called, it should be done. The family should gather around in a family circle, read the Bible, and pray. At our house we sing a song, sometimes memorized a Scripture, sometimes we talk about character building, we all quote together our family motto, and we discuss the Scripture that has been read.
3. Have a pure thought life. The Psalmist said, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). In Proverbs 4:23 the Lord reminds us, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” The Lord said of man, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...” (Psalm 51:10a). Again the Psalmist said, “...cleanse thou me from secret faults” (Psalm 19:12b). To be a success in God’s work the heart must be right, the mind must be clean, and the heart must be pure.
4. Have proper motives. Unselfishness, sincere love for the pupil, and a desire to do all for the glory of God should certainly be the motive of every Sunday school teacher. Of course, he should want to build a big class, but this in itself should not be the main motive. This and other desires should all be subservient to the one desire of serving God and others.
5. Pray daily for each pupil. In order to have sufficient love one for another we must pray for each other. Love can never reach its ultimate unless prayer is included. One of the greatest things that one Christian can do for another is to pray for him. Certainly pupils of our Sunday school need to be on the prayer list of their Sunday school teachers. Pray for them and tell them that you do.
6. Visit in the homes of each pupil each quarter. There are many things that a teacher ought to know. Uppermost, however, is the knowing of the lesson and the knowing of the pupil. Just to know the lesson material is not enough; the teacher must know the pupil. When Ezekial was called as a captivity prophet and a watchman on the wall, the Lord led him to go where the people were and to sit where they sat for seven days. He could feel what they felt, hunger as they hungered, weep as they wept, and mourn as they mourned. If one is going to be a good leader, he must know the heart of the follower. Because of this, it is imperative that the teacher go into the home of each pupil at least once each three months. He may find needs that he never dreamed of before.
7. Visit every absentee. Remember that the most important absentee is the one that was absent for the first time last Sunday. Remember that absentees are people, and no one ever became a chronic absentee that wasn’t absent the first time. They should be gotten back as soon as possible. It should certainly be a part of every teacher’s job to visit every absentee every week. If the class is too large for such an endeavor, it should be divided into groups with the responsibility given to group captains.
8. “Pastor” your pupils. In these days of population centers and population explosion, churches are becoming larger and larger, making it impossible for the pastor to pastor all of the people. There are simply too many people who need counseling, comforting, winning, helping, and visiting for the pastor to do it all. This makes it vitally important that each teacher pastor his pupils. He should have a personal concern for each pupil and should make this personal concern obvious to them. The pupils should feel that they could bring to him the most intimate problem or burden and that he would wisely advise and hold all in confidence. The teacher should let the pupil know that he is available at his request. Of course, in order to pastor the class properly, it becomes even more necessary that the absentees are visited and that the teacher enter into the home of the pupil regularly. If one teaches junior boys, it would be wise for him to go to the playground occasionally, watch a little-league ball game, find out his boys’ interests, play with them, and get to know them. He should get to know their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses, and their temptations and trials. It seems that in these uncertain days everybody needs help, but there are so few who know how to help. A teacher should be one of these who knows how to help and does so.
9. Have a monthly class meeting. The class should play together as well as study together. A little get-together each month is certainly helpful. Maybe the class could take a trip to the zoo, go to the teacher’s house for a meal, go down to the corner snack shop for a hamburger, have a picnic, or just have a simple little party. Whatever it is, the class should provide some recreation for its members.
These are days when the world has everything to offer. Certainly the church should not forget to provide for the needs for the whole life of the individual. What better time could a child have than to get to know his teacher as he plays with him. A monthly get-together is a very vital part of class life. As I look back over my life, I thank God for those Sunday school teachers who prayed with me and played with me.
10. Make the classroom attractive. Not all churches have beautiful educational plants; however, the teacher should certainly do the best he can with what he has. In the first place, the class should be as neatly decorated as possible. A nice picture on the wall, a covering for the table, a vase of artificial flowers, and other forms of decoration are certainly in order.
It is also advisable for the teacher to make preparation each week so the classroom will be a little different as if it were prepared especially for that particular Sunday. A simple rearranging of the chairs would be in order or maybe some fresh flowers would help. Maybe it would be nice to have something written on the blackboard. The words, “Welcome, pupils,” with the date would let them know the teacher prepared for their coming on that specific Sunday.
One sure way to do the above is to arrive early enough every Sunday morning to check over the room and make certain it is ready for the pupils to enter. It is so important to make the class personal. The personal touch can make the difference between a successful class and an unsuccessful one.
11. Be a good Christian. Of course, there are other things that a teacher should do that all good Christians should do. He should tithe, be faithful to all of the services of the church, live a clean life, etc. Teaching is not just a Sunday job. It must consume our lives. It must be of utmost importance to us. The proper kind of Sunday school leadership will instill this in the hearts and minds of the teachers and officers.
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