Saturday, February 25, 2012

Show don't tell in Sunday School too

As I slog through my edits and rewrites, I continue to live my normal life. One piece of my normal life for many years has been the role of Sunday School teacher. I've taught most every age group, but for the last few years, I've been teaching the Youth class. Yes, teenagers who go to Sunday School, some of them voluntarily.

We have a single lesson for the entire month, which may sound boring, but here's the deal: at the end of the month, the teens have to teach that lesson to all the other kids in the church. My co-teacher Jen and I have 9 teens in class for an hour a week. Our approach is the same as the approach I try to take in my writing life: Show Don't Tell.

First week of the month, Jen and I present the Bible lesson. Then we start a roundtable discussion to get to the heart of the story - what's it really about? What's the take-away message? Once the teens can put the take-away message into a single sentence, which takes between 5 minutes and an hour, they start talking about how to get that idea across to the other kids. They seldom teach the story literally - that would be boring. Plus, it would be telling, not showing. They usually put a unique spin on the message and create a skit for the kids showing how to use that message in their everyday lives at home and school. And I think sock puppets will show up in the next couple of months.

The thing is, Jen and I don't tell them what their lesson will look like. We urge and question and provide encouragement. We ask for camaraderie, respect for ideas, and commitment to the lesson once it's developed. The result is that, hopefully, not only will the kids remember the message, but the teens will too. Because we all remember things better when they're shown to us.


  1. Is Tunkhannock near Milanville?

  2. Don't know where Milanville is, but Tunkhannock is in Northeast PA.