It’s an odd thought. One of the most important responsibilities of a teacher at church is spending time in God’s Word and good resources in lesson preparation. But there are moments in the life of a small group when God is moving in a particular way, and the lesson becomes of secondary importance. In fact, there are times when the lesson needs to be forgotten about completely.
I am an educator. Teaching and serving teachers is my passion. I have this inner drive to get that lesson taught. It’s not easy for me to suggest such a thing as scrapping the lesson all together every now and then. But we have discussed how the church is a family of families, and Sunday School is the living room. We’ve talked about how Sunday School is where the life of the church happens. We study God’s Word together, yes. But we do so in the context of our lives. We pray for each other’s needs and bear one another’s burdens. We celebrate each other’s victories and encourage one another to stay faithful. There are days when these moments are more important than finishing that lesson outline.
Part of the joy and responsibility of a teacher and leader is to recognize those moments and get out of God’s way. If the thought of missing one of those moments intimidates you, (it does me!) I would encourage you to choose someone in your class who is sensitive to these things and give them permission to stop you if need be. Work out an arrangement that allows them to give you a sign that says, “Be quiet for a minute, and see what God does.”
To help you think about some of the indicators that you need to scrap the lesson and let God go with it, here are some good suggestions from an article I recently read:
1. When someone or multiple people are crying, don’t miss the moment.
2. When someone confesses a sin, don’t miss the moment.
3. When two people who are at odds with one another and speak of making things right between them, don’t miss the moment.
4. When there is tension between group members, don’t miss the moment.
5. When the presence of the Holy Spirit is filling the room in an extraordinary way, don’t miss the moment.
6. When someone who has been hesitant to talk about their personal life or their journey with Christ and does, don’t miss the moment.
7. When a couple in the group tells the group that their marriage is on the rocks or a dating couple speaks of breaking up, don’t miss the moment.
8. When someone speaks of their anger with or disappointment with God, don’t miss the moment.
9. When the group recognizes and acknowledges a communal failing and, as a group, is willing to repent together, don’t miss the moment.
You can read the entire article here.
The good news is that you don’t need to feel inadequate here, or think you are ill-equipped to manage one of these moments. At this point the group leader”s job is to quietly get out of the way. These moments are God things, and He will steer the ship. You may feel prompted to ask a question here and there , or suggest a time of prayer or scripture…you are called by God to lead the group after all. I would also add that we shouldn’t fear silence in these moments. Times of silence when God is moving in a group can be healing and restorative. We aren’t used to silence and it can feel awkward because we are so accustomed to noise. But as you know God often whispers, and silence is the best setting to hear a whisper.
It is our privilege at these times to be encouraging and affirming to the class. And it is also my privilege to be encouraging and affirming to you. I believe in each of you. You are each dedicated to God’s Word and to the group you serve. You are always in my prayers as you lead and serve.
See you Wednesday night at our leadership meeting. As always, call or message me if I can be of any service. I would love to hear your thoughts on this article, either in the comment field below, or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/dwalker96sc