Pedagogy, the art of teaching children, requires devout and serious Christian workers. If we are truly serious about teaching and wish to be successful in the classroom, in large measure it will depend on how well the instructor is prepared and goes about his duties. The teacher who studies well, is growing spiritually, and possesses sound knowledge of the Bible can be confident that his responsibilities to his pupils and to God are being met. The Christian teacher should recognize his cogent role to instruct and guide the child to see and understand who God is and what He wants that child to do. Every teacher needs to be reminded about the importance of their calling to help the child face their own sinfulness and their need for a Saviour.
No amount of emphasis is too much when considering this matter of leading our youth into spiritual truths. It is said but not always adhered to that what occurs in the worship service is no more central to our next generation than what takes place in our Jr. Church department or Sunday School. While the Jr. Church or S.S. Class is often treated as an auxiliary of the church with most of the attention drawn to what occurs in the sanctuary, we must not miss the fact that in adjacent rooms children`s ministry are given the task to make disciples too. As essential as worship is to our Lord`s Day Services so too is the mandate to teach our children to love our Saviour and to lead them to pledge themselves to Christ. In order for the leader to promote Godliness in the class, it becomes vital to not only teach the Bible but to live it as well before them. The teacher is the life of his teaching so that both word and practise become inseparable. This should be true for any member of the congregation but especially so for teachers; any contradiction or hypocrisy will only mar their efforts. James points out that because teachers have greater influence they will be held more accountable Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. (James 3:1). A teacher is to be like a living display case where convictions and practise are readily; in effect you do become living epistles. Not only is it a grave duty to teach with soundness, but just as essential to live spiritually wholesome lives.
Since youth ministry advances the mission of the church, it must use Christ centred material. Uniform lessons are needful along with continuous gospel application aimed at the spiritual needs of our pupils. The fountain of knowledge, the Bible, and the one who guides his class, the Spirit filled teacher, are chief components in the great quest to help prepare children for heaven. Knowledge of the Scriptures becomes indispensable. In regards to our knowledge of God and His Word, Proverbs 29:18 warns that where there is no vision the people perish. The word for perish may be better understood as unrestrained. People who are deprived of moral restraints are left to themselves and set their own direction, which given the state of man`s heart always will run afoul of God`s Law.
The term vision does not mean an idea promulgated by a man who has a goal to attempt something great for God. Instead the word vision or Hazon in Hebrew is the same word that is translated revelation in Jeremiah 14:14. It is a message from God. In Jeremiah God is speaking about false prophets who are prophesying to you false visions. The false prophets were bringing their own personal message and not a revelation or a message from God Himself to Judah. What God wants us to know generally comes to us by means of written revelation. Today, the entire cannon of Scripture is available to men and women to teach our youth. We act as guides that lead our youth to the fountain of knowledge to learn about God. But what happens when men cast off revelation a great spiritual famine and accompanying distress exist in its place in stead of a lasting hope that comes only to those who obey Him. The Word of God never ceases to exist rather men choose to ignore it, and in that sense personal and communal morals are generally discarded or wholly abandoned so that men do as they please for lack of not choosing lasting knowledge.
The teacher must then recognize the infinite worth of God`s Word and labour diligently to steer the child toward Christ and eternal life. Since we do have God`s complete revelation before us and pursue it daily, we seek to promote it to our youth the best way we know how and trust that God will bless our endeavours and that He will bring fruit from it. But blessed are those who are taught the law and keep it. Proverbs 29:18
In most evangelical churches there are a range of opportunities to influence children with the gospel. In our own Junior Church department we have several teachers. One of our youth instructors who has been teaching the Bible for some time to our children has provided a few insights from her own teaching experience that may be of some help to our readership. Here is what she shared with us about her teaching experience:
Question: You have logged in many years of teaching our youth in several different churches. Tell me something about your interest in teaching and how you prepare for your lessons?
Answer: I have been teaching Sunday School (off and on) for 40 years. All ages but my preference is ages 4-9. What really fuels my interest is my love for God, my love for children and a strong desire to serve God in my local church. My preparation involves prayer about which lesson to teach (making use of various available resources). I spend 2 or 3 evenings throughout the week tailoring the lesson plan to meet the needs of my class and going over the memory verse of the week, all the while asking God for guidance and focus.
Question: Can you comment on what or who has led you to take up the task of teaching and what would you say to others who were thinking of doing the same?
Answer: To answer this question one must keep in mind that teaching God`s Word to young minds is a VERY big responsibility; I don`t take that lightly. Here`s what I say . . . I did`not just wake up one morning and decide “Oh I think I will start teaching Sunday School today.” There is NO doubt in my heart and mind that God led me down this path. God prepares and guides me through every week. I would not be able to do it without Him. If you are thinking of serving in your church, ask God — “where would you have me serve?” If it is Sunday School, God will guide and prepare you.