Making the Most of the Lesson Time

This is the crucial test of teacher and school; the fine point of contact, disciplinary, educational, and evangelistic.  As goes the teaching, goes the school.  Whatever else the school may be or have, if the lesson time is well used, it merits its name of Sunday school.


The lesson time involves discipline.  Good teaching goes hand in hand with good order, and good order hinges on the skill of the teacher and the conditions that environ his class.  Some of these conditions are hindrances, removable by the use of tact and good judgment; or, if irremovable, to be made the most of.  Nothing about the real Sunday school is ideal, and the teacher who expects it and is discouraged at lack of it is an unwise teacher.  Here are some of the hindrances to the lesson time.

1.  Shortness of Time

Thirty to sixty minutes out of a whole week for Bible-teaching looks small indeed; but consider how many forces for good converge upon it, and it will become to you a great opportunity.

2.  Crowded and Poorly Graded Classes

This can be easily remedied, but in a few cases is inevitable.

3.  Physical Discomfort

Physical discomfort can come in the form of rooms that are dingy, ill-lighted or ill-ventilated.  Seats may not fit the students.  Often these conditions can be improved, but remember that kids are resilient, and can rise above these inconveniences.

4.  Lack of Preparation

In past eras, Sunday school students were required to study their lesson at home before class on Sunday.  That is rarely seen today, in children's classes.  A teacher must be prepared to open up the minds of the students without preparation on their part.

5.  Noisy Teachers

In the public schools and in Sunday school, there always seem to be those teachers who have loud voices or yell at the children.  They seem inconsiderate, but may not realize how distracting they are.  You may not be able to do anything about them, but just be careful that you don't follow their example!

6.  Interruptions

You are in the middle of a lesson and have the children's full attention, finally.  Suddenly, someone knocks at the door to collect the attendance book.  The spell is broken, and the children are now distracted.  This situation should be discussed with the superintendent so the class time is not interrupted.

7.  Disorderly Students

Children who misbehave infect the orderly ones, spoil the teacher's work, and greatly try the teacher's patience.  I have rarely seen in public school or Sunday school, a class which didn't have at least one of these students.  When these students move to the next class, inevitably another one comes along to take their place.

The crowning work of the teacher is the conquest of such students.  To win one of these and make a Christian lady or gentleman out of him or her is greater than the taking of a city.

On the other hand, there are conditions of the lesson time to counteract the hindrances.  Consider these:

1.  There are young minds, willing for the most part to learn, often pathetic in their hunger for the truth.  Do not regard the mere outward seeming of indifference as a test of how well the students are learning.

2.  There are young hearts, which are more than young minds.  However mischievous and restless the average Sunday school boy of girl may be, there is a young, impressible heart within him or her, not yet in keeping of the evil one, and the marks of the loving teacher upon it will be ineffaceable in time and eternity.

3.  There is the Bible, the one text of the Sunday school, about which gather the traditions and worship of the ages.  That teacher has seen little who has not noted reverence for God's Word as it lies open upon his lap in the Sunday school.

4.  Bending over that book is its divine Interpreter, the Holy Spirit, who will turn weakness into strength and darkness into light for the teacher whose life merits the help.  The Holy Spirit is pledged to the aid of that Book, and by it he will compel conviction of sin and need of Christ.  It is folly for the teacher of any class, however rude or careless, to yield for a moment to discouragement over the outcome of his teaching, when he knows, or ought to know, that from the first to the last moment of the lesson time the Holy Spirit, teacher, and Guide of the Church, is at his side helping to make the most of his teaching. (1)