Monthly Archives: July 2012

Learning Styles and small group bible study

Take  a second and read over these values again.  I’ve had great input on them, and we will begin using these as a guideline for goals at this week’s Sunday School leadership meeting.  (Don’t forget the leadership meeting this Wednesday at 7pm in the Fellowship Hall!  I look forward to seeing you there.)

Sunday School that W.O.R.K.S.

Wants to grow

Organized to serve

Reaches out to new people

Keeps people connected

Study God’s Word together

I wanted to share  an excerpt with you from a great article on learning styles from Scottie May, who teaches Christian Formation at Wheaton College.  Below is what I thought was most relevant for our purposes.  I edited it slightly to fit our use as Sunday School leaders.

“Characteristics of Learning Styles

First of all, no one is purely one type of learner. We’re all a mix of types, but most of us have a style of learning with which we are most comfortable. By the way, intelligence is equally distributed among all styles.

Here are brief summaries that describe each type:

Imaginative. Starts with concrete reality, and then diverges creatively. Enjoys the arts and beauty. Learns through discussion and interaction. Friendly and caring. Enjoys people. Dislikes lectures, competition, and debate. May be a people pleaser. Needs to feel liked and accepted to learn well. Asks “why?”

Analytic. Starts with ideas and abstractions. Assimilates content like a sponge. Organizes it into theories and concepts. Learns well from organized experts. Wants all the facts. Serious minded. Tends to like ideas more than people. Dislikes discussion, noise, and sitting in circles. They love school because traditional school is designed for this type. (That’s the reason so many teachers and professors are like this: because they are in an environment very comfortable for them.) Asks “what?”

Common Sense. Starts with ideas and concepts, but then converges them to develop a plan or strategy. Enjoys figuring out how things work. Hands-on. Dislikes lectures, memorizing, lots of reading, and being told how to do something. Focuses on tasks sometimes to a fault. Asks “how?”

Dynamic. Starts with concrete experience and accommodates through trial and error. Experiments, takes risks. Very flexible. Change agent. Enjoys learning in a variety of ways. Dislikes routine, and “rigid” truths. May be comfortable in front of people. Asks “so what?” and “what if?”

Learning styles vary greatly. Those differences can be challenging for a small group member, or they can make community experiences rich and fulfilling—it all depends on your perspective. In some ways, the style differences remind me of the diversity of spiritual gifts described in the New Testament; they also parallel the diversity of the Body of Christ noted in 1 Corinthians 12. You wouldn’t want a small group made up only of people who are analytic, type 2 learners, any more than you’d want a body made up of only hands.

A small group of diverse learners is complementary, sort of like a marriage. The differences in members’ styles can help each other develop their strengths, and also grow in areas of weakness. Diversity is healthy, and I think, draws on biblical principles.”

It’s healthy to remember that not everyone learns the same way.  Which of these learning styles describes you?  How have you designed your class to accommodate different styles?  What ideas do you have to help others accommodate the needs of different learners?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/dwalker96sc

See you Wednesday evening!

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when are problems…not really problems?

Take a second and read over these points one more time (unless this is the first time you’re seeing them!)  Any comments or questions about these values?  I want to continue to “test drive” these with our Sunday School leadership so that we can truly have the experience of adopting these together.  Please share any thoughts, positive or negative.

Sunday School that W.O.R.K.S.

Wants to grow

Organized to serve

Reaches out to new people

Keeps people connected

Study God’s Word together

Now, I want to share an article with you about things we in church leadership need to “unlearn”.  It’s kind of a funny idea, to unlearn something, but I see the value in realizing that some of our ideas about the way things work are incorrect.  It’s good to rethink old mindsets sometimes.  In many cases, we may find that ideas are still tried and true, but in others we may find that old mindsets need an upgrade.

Here’s the article, it’s titled to pastors but I think it applies to all church leaders: http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/161804-pete_wilson_3_things_every_pastor_should_unlearn_article.html?p=2

The first point in the article was the one I wanted to highlight.  The idea that “problems are bad” is one that, in many cases, prevents us from growth and healthy development.  There is no perfect organization.  We all have problems in the way things currently operate.  Feeling bad about that and looking the other way will lead to a defeated and stagnant organization.  True problems exist, and can be overcome if they are addressed by positive and creative effort.

Over the years in ministry I have become convinced that one of the keys to organizational success is positive and creative problem solving on the part of leadership.  Problems present opportunity to grow and get better, when addressed.  Problems only wreak havoc when left unaddressed.

Example: One of the problems that small group Sunday School ministries tend to have is that people fall through the cracks.  New people come and attend for a while, never really get connected, and we look up 6 months later asking, “what ever happened to that new couple?”

Left unaddressed, a problem like that will add up over the years to dozens of families that have been hurt and felt unloved by a church.  Not to mention a small group that is cliquish and never grows.

Creative solution: (This falls under the Keeps people connected portion of our values)  Designate one person, or a couple, to be the connection police.  (aka Care group coordinator)  Their job is to protect and serve.  Protect people from falling through the cracks, and serve families by making sure everyone gets cared for by the group.  A small group who has designated someone to make sure everyone feels cared for will grow and become a pleasure to be a part of.

Let’s work together to identify problems and approach them with a positive and creative attitude.  Overcoming these problems will only make us better at growing God’s Kingdom!

Remember to come to our next leadership meeting on Wednesday August 1.

Thanks for all you do!

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Sunday School that W.O.R.K.S leadership meeting recap

A few of you were not able to make it to the teacher meeting this week, and I didn’t want you to miss out on what we discussed.  I know this is summer time and everyone’s schedule is crazy, but if at all possible make our SS teacher meeting a priority to attend.  I really value these face to face opportunities to stay on the same page.  My goal is to offer you something practical and inspirational at every meeting.  No one likes to meet just for the sake of meeting, and I will always strive to make our times together meaningful.

The SS leadership meeting is the vehicle where vision is transferred from leaders to other leaders. We are building on a leadership development culture.  All great small group leaders need time and places where they meet with other leaders to pray, dream, dialogue and train together.

One of the things I want us to do together is develop a culture of great communication and vision.  Perhaps the most important way to do that is to share the same vocabulary.  It’s important for us to agree on the essentials of great small group Sunday School and then remind each other of these things…all the time.  This is a team project, it’s not something I believe can be dictated from the church office.  It will be most effective and meaningful if our team works it out together.  Here is an idea we discussed last Wednesday.  It’s called “Sunday School that W.O.R.K.S.”  My thoughts are to use this framework to discuss and reinforce our small group values.  I think it covers the essentials in a memorable way.  What are your thoughts about the “W.O.R.K.S.” idea below?

Sunday School that W.O.R.K.S.

Wants to grow

Organized to serve

Reaches out to new people

Keeps people connected

Study God’s Word together

We also watched this video and discussed it.

Video: http://www.churchleaders.com/smallgroups/smallgroups-videos/161254-Invited-to-Belong%E2%80%94A-Testimony.html

“Invited to Belong”

                -Big idea: connecting in a small group is the place where people really start to feel like they “belong” in church life, and is the “next step” from worship attendance.  Be on the lookout for people to invite.

IMPORTANT POINT: the worship service is NOT the mission field of SS classes.  It is a place where some people will explore God and His church first, and that means we should be on the lookout for guests we can connect with and invite to belong.  But the mission field for small group life is not on this campus, its everywhere else: neighborhoods, workplaces, playgroups, golf courses…

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, or on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/dwalker96sc

Thanks, and I will look forward to seeing you at our next Sunday School leader meeting on August 1. These meetings are in the fellowship hall at PSBC and are open to all SS leaders, and those who might be interested in SS leadership.

David

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the most important part of the lesson: preparation

As a Bible study teacher, one of the most important things that can add to the quality of your lessons is a tried and true method of preparation.  In my experience, the quality of any lesson I teach is directly related to the quality of my preparation.  I can usually boil the quality of my preparation down to 2 things: time and good resources.  Unfortunately, there are no apps for your smartphone that add more time to your week.  I wish there were!  Finding adequate time to prepare for my lesson usually requires that I get up a little earlier for a few days.  You might find time better by staying up later, or carving out prep time during the day somewhere.  Whatever your method, taking time to meditate on the lesson material is key to teaching well.

The second factor that makes for good lesson preparation is having access to good resources.  The good news is that all of our Sunday School curriculum comes with excellent teacher resources, and the teacher lesson book usually has more information than you could possibly communicate in the time frame of a Sunday School class.   The publisher of our bible study literature, Lifeway, has a vigorous and thorough format for their writers who contribute lessons.  When a lesson gets printed in your material, it has been researched and edited to give you quality resources to lead your class.  There are also great resources that you can use outside of your lesson book.  Your lesson material will always include the scripture text, but I would be remiss to not say that spending prayerful time on the text of the lesson in your Bible is essential.  God  through His Holy Spirit will speak to your heart and give you insight as you prepare.  I have also listed some good resource links on the right side bar of this web page.

Take a minute and read this very helpful article on the most important questions to ask about a bible text when preparing to teach on it.

http://www.churchleaders.com/smallgroups/small-group-how-tos/160966-josh_hunt_six_friends_of_every_bible_study_leader.html

The link to your right called “Bible Book Overviews” will lead you to some of the best resources I have found to help answer these questions.

Remember that we have a teacher meeting this Wednesday night at 7.

I look forward to seeing you there!  Always remember to call me if I can be of service to you.  Thanks for all you do!

David

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Sunday School care ministry nuts and bolts

The church is a family of families, and Sunday School is the family room.  It’s where we do life together in christian community! You’ve heard me say before that I love the idea of churches getting better at being bigger…by getting better at being smaller.  It’s easy to get lost in a crowd, but in a small group we are more likely to know what’s happening in each other’s lives, and be able to respond.

We  get better at being smaller, by getting better at taking care of one another in Sunday School.

I believe that there are a few essential qualities that make Sunday School great, and that we need to identify and stick to them.  Those qualities are: bible study, fellowship, and care giving.  That’s it.  Nothing complicated here.  But having a plan for each of those elements becomes very important to the health of the group.

Here is a great video about developing a care ministry plan for your class.  It’s less than 4 minutes long.  Keep in mind that it’s from another church, but the principles are right on.

Feel free to share your thoughts below, and have a great week!

152403-developing-the-care-ministry-of-your-small-group.html

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Sunday School is not…

In one of my conversations about Sunday School yesterday, I had a thought that I want to expand on a little.  Sunday School is not just another organization of the church.  Sunday School is the church, organized to accomplish many of the major biblical purposes that God has laid out for his people to engage in.  Through the organization of small groups we call Sunday School, we engage in Fellowship, Service, Discipleship, Care Giving, and more.  By “Care Giving”, I am basically referring to the action of ministering to one another.  We tend to think of  “ministry” sometimes as what we do outside the fellowship of the church, but “missions” is probably a better way to think of that specific type of service intended as outreach.  Missions is supported in many critical ways through the organization of Sunday School as well, by the way.

In the worship service, we experience the “community” of the church in that we worship together, and hear the Word of God proclaimed in preaching.  Those are critical  parts of God’s plan for us as a fellowship of believers which are not directly a part of Sunday School.  The teaching of the Bible that happens in Sunday School is different from the “proclamation” that happens in the worship service.  Neither part of our experience as the church takes priority over the other, both are essential to spiritual health.  That is why both the worship service and the Sunday School are necessary puzzle pieces in the life of a Christian.

As Sunday School leaders however, we must understand that what we accomplish through our service is a major part of God’s plan for the church.  It’s where deep, meaningful, spiritual community happens.  It’s where needs are recognized and sincere service to people originates.  It’s where Bible teaching meets real life, and disciples grow.  It’s where our plan for taking care of one another gets put into action.  It’s where our shared priority of missional living gets prayed over and reinforced.

Sunday School is not just another organization of the church.  It IS THE CHURCH organized to grow and do God’s work.

THANK YOU for doing your part in keeping us organized and effective!

Remember, we will not have a teacher’s meeting this Wednesday due to the holiday, enjoy the time with your family.  We will have your visitor forms in your boxes so that you can do your follow up.

Have you ever thought about how much of God’s plan for the church gets accomplished through the organization of  Sunday School?  Do you think that we ever sell the value of Sunday School short in any way?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below.

Happy 4th of July!

David

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