Monday, 19 April 2010

Still teaching Sunday School

Some time ago I shared my experiences of teaching Sunday School in the church I attend here in Mbeya. I have just started to teach again (having had a long break from it) and thought you might like an update. Thanks to all of you who sent suggestions for how I could handle the various challenges I encounter!
Last week things got off to a disappointing start, with only a handful of children attending and most of them arriving in the last fifteen minutes of the one hour lesson! However, this week eight children were already there and waiting when I arrived and many more turned up as the lesson went by. Maybe my encouragement of “If you come on time you get a chance to do fun things like colouring!” actually worked!
I’ve learned that the best way to deal with the steady trickle of children’s arrival, is to start with a long activity that can be done as they arrive – the easiest thing to do is colouring – giving them pictures of the story or the memory verse. Once a critical mass of kids are there, I can get going on the teaching, starting with a few preliminaries that still allow for late children coming without missing out on the main teaching. My biggest challenge is getting as many of the children involved as possible in answering questions – it’s usually the same few, though this week was different. I finish with the memory verse, so that those who arrive right at the end still get a chance to hide God’s Word in their heart. If we are actually able to start the whole lesson in reasonable time, the kids may get lucky and have a game at the end.
So, I guess I’m learning! And in learning these things I am better equipped to teach Sunday School teachers here, as I am more aware of the challenges they face (though I am also aware that I am able to supply resources for my class that they may be unable to afford). Recently I had two very different workshop experiences when training Sunday School Teachers. Both workshops were intended to be follow-ups for teachers who had attended two previous workshops.
At the first, in one of the coldest places we work, I had the smallest turnout I have ever had, at the second, in one of the hottest places we work, the biggest!! With over seventy teachers attending, of whom only a handful had attended the previous workshops I’d conducted there, it was quite an experience! It was so exciting to see all those people gathered together from different denominations – our Literacy/Scripture Use Coordinator there had done an excellent job of advertising the event. Please join me in praying for these teachers, who only received very basic training, that they would yet be able to use it to really help them in their ministry.