I overheard someone at our church campus a month ago who made a simple statement that stuck with me. He said, “Are there any classes in your church that don’t lecture. Are there any that have discussion?”
Lecture can be the slow death of passion and transformation in a church or small group. How can you make your Sunday School class into a small group? Let me give you a few things. As you read, remember, I’m one who believes preaching is a two sided event. Our culture is looking for dialogue. Why? They have questions. So, when I preach, I speak as if Im having a conversation with the crowd. I do all I can to preach and proclaim, while making them feel like they have not been preached “at.”
1. Big Question. When you teach, you must come to the class with a big, fat, exegetically practical question. What question are you addressing in the class? Are you aiming at a target in your teaching or are you a buckshot teacher? Turn your biblically derived question into a question a “son of Issachar” (1 Chron 12:32) would be proud of. What I’m saying is turn your big fat question into one your culture is facing. People will eat it up. Trust me. They want to answer the question.
2. Others Talk First. Take your question, that’s been prayerfully thought through, and raise it in your class. Let your class talk first. And don’t be scared to let them go on for a a few minutes. You will notice a huge difference in the setting of your class when others talk first. Discussion up front will get your class moving fast. Lecture will slow it down. So, the question the teacher/leader is asking is “will I talk? Will I teach?”
3. Teacher Talks Last. I was in the Ukraine recently. I taught beginners English in the Michael Gott English School. In the school there’s a soft rule that must be adhered to in order to be effective. It’s this: “the teacher only speaks 10% of the time.” Let the people speak English. They need the practice. So, yes, you will talk. But you first must let the class talk. How else will you know where people are spiritually? How will you actually make disciples of them. But when it’s you time to teach the word, do it with precision. With laser precision, teach the bible.
If you want your class to feel like a small group, you must know how to use discussion. It doesn’t matter if you have 12 people or 50 in your class. If you don’t make it feel like a group every once in a while, your missing out on disciple making biblically and culturally.