Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About
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Every week, in Sabbath school classes across the world, someone will be talking. It’s estimated that the normal pace for English speaking averages between 120 to 160 words per minute. That translates to 5400 – 7200 words for the typical 45 minute Sabbath school class.

Face looking sad with mouth zipped up.

Image © Krieg Barrie from GoodSalt.com

How many of those words are being spoken by you, the teacher? If your answer is that you are speaking the majority of those 5400 – 7200 words, you are more than likely missing the mark as an effective Sabbath school teacher.

Sabbath school teachers have to consciously fight the tendency to lecture and preach to the members of their classes. One of the two biggest complaints about Sabbath school teachers is that they do all or most of the talking and don’t involve the class members.

Although the information shared may be true and useful, we have to be wise in our manner of presentation. The evidence shows, without question, that members learn more and enjoy the process of learning even more when there is an opportunity for meaningful interaction and dialogue.

Guiding a class that is consistently known for a great discussion takes a lot of preparation and forethought. Preparing your materials and talking points and devising stimulating questions is a process that demands time from the teacher. To simply lecture a class or read the lesson out loud not only short changes the members of the class but also stunts your growth as a teacher.

To give members “something to talk about” means that you have guided your class in a manner where they are actively participating and the learning is mutual and shared. Here are a few dos and don’ts to aid you in having great discussions:

• Do prepare thought-provoking questions for each part of your theme
• Do anticipate the answers you’ll receive and have follow-up questions ready
• Do make your questions appropriate for visitors as well as long-time members

• Don’t answer your own questions. Let the class answer the questions.
• Don’t limit the answer to the 1st response. Build on it and re-launch it
• Don’t ignore raised hands in an effort to get to your points of interest

Following these simple guidelines can enhance any class for any teacher. When they come to your session this week, make sure that you give them “something to talk about.”

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Amen!(37)

Comments

Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About — 67 Comments

  1. The only problem is that we often forget our role as teachers in our classes and just want to show everyone that we have studied more than anyone else.

    Amen!(13)
    • We need to remember that demonstrating superior knowledge is not teaching.

      The best teacher this world has ever known was Jesus Christ. He spoke simply, with simple illustrations, and He often asked questions.

      People learn best when their minds are engaged, and most people's minds don't really engage much when a teacher is lecturing or otherwise attempting to demonstrate superior knowledge.

      Amen!(7)
      • I surely agree, I fall to sleep if we get a lecture and learn nothing, go home feeling empty. A lively discussion is what makes SS a learning place.

        Amen!(2)
    • I doubt that this is the intent of our teachers. Some people may be more skilled at presenting the lesson than others, but I highly doubt that their intent is to 'show-off' to the class. This is a new year. Let us all study our lessons and go to SS with a positive attitude. Allow this Holy Spirit that we are studying about to lead us, and better prepare us to engage in lively, thought-provoking discussions.

      Amen!(1)
    • Perhaps the problem is that teachers think they ought to demonstrate that they studied the subject thoroughly? Perhaps they do not understand that a good teacher helps students arrive at their own answers by asking good questions?

      Amen!(2)
  2. Yes, teachings needs extra motivation for classes participation,appreciate every members thoughts for other to have courage to participate too.invite them to ask a day in a week they would like to share, assigned the members of your class to lead discussion ahead of time... who would be tackle the Sunday, Monday and so on...and teacher should say the conclusion with appreciation to all...

    Amen!(7)
    • Amjahd, I just requested Curtis to offer proposals on encouraging class preparation, then noticed your submission with two suggestions/proposals. You actually ventured into the more important aspect of Sabbath School Lesson: For members of the Church to become involved in corporate study of the Word of God. It also recognizes that probably most of our members take little or no time to study the Word of God during the week.

      I am inviting you and others to join Curtis in further exploring this discussion; probably even more crucial considering the theme of the lesson for this quarter. I pray to our Father for the Holy Spirit to guide this process on SSNet that it may be able to offer a workable effective proposal for increasing participation in the study of the Word of God, and contextually the SDA corporate study of the Word of God.

      Amen!(5)
    • Thanks for that suggestion.

      Inviting various class members to lead in the discussion of various "days" of the week's lesson is something that could be helpful occasionally. It can get more people involved.

      How has that worked for you?

      Do you think it's a good idea for *every* Sabbath?

      Amen!(1)
      • Yes, every Sabbath, more people would study the lesson, it could be so interesting others will want to join this class that is learning so much.

        Amen!(1)
        • Evie, you don't think class members could "learn so much" from a single teacher who makes sure to involve and challenge every class member?

          But I think that this is certainly much preferable to a single teacher who is not inspiring. So this might be a good way to go for a lot of Sabbath Schools.

          I wouldn't like to see this plan replace teachers who are truly excellent, though. 🙂

          Amen!(2)
          • Oh I didn't mean not to have a teacher, we need a leader, but discussion takes away the lecture. A good teacher encourages discussion.

            Amen!(2)
  3. Curtis, your comments regarding Sabbath School are accurate and most helpful. I encourage our teachers to stimulate discussion of as many members as possible. It is disappointing to observe some that remain silent and even bored at times.

    Amen!(8)
    • Boredom is mostly self-inflicted. Without going into all the reasons why, boredom is a choice, though often made without realizing it. Too much "excitement" in worldly things will dull the appetite for heavenly things.

      I have attended classes that were presented in a boring manner, but that should not dampen anyone's love for study and learning. Just find a better class. Many churches have strayed in order to "help" the teens/young adults to not be so bored by introducing more "excitement", usually in worldly ways. Without a true conversion experience, being around those who truly love God and His word will be boring. As with Lot's wife, the things of this earth will destroy us in the end if we cling to them. Great peril abounds at this time as the dragon's war against the remnant seed of the Woman brings every distraction for those not anchored firmly by faith in God's Word.

      Amen!(6)
      • I would like to suggest that if a Sabbath class is boring, it is also the members' fault - or a self-inflicted situation, as Robert suggests.

        I have very seldom met a "boring" class. That's because I pose interesting questions, if the teacher doesn't. (Teachers have generally thanked me after the class for providing more interest. 🙂 ) I suggest to everyone reading here to try that method.

        Very occasionally, I have met a "teacher" who was so set on finishing his/her lecture as to thoroughly resent any interference. Such a class would appear to be irredeemable. But then I have to wonder why local churches elect/appoint such "teachers." Wouldn't it be better to elect/appoint someone not so sure of him/herself but willing to learn? Anything has to be better than a boring lecture on Sabbath morning!

        Amen!(5)
    • It can be intimidating standing before a group of people and hearing crickets 🙂
      I encourage all teachers to have a teaching plan, not just plan to read the lesson. The plan should involve how they open the class, transition, and close. Each of these phases must involve good questions.
      Thanks Paul!

      Amen!(8)
      • Yes, a teaching plan would be good, but I would also recommend understanding Acts 1:8. Without the Holy Spirit, there is no power, even with the best of plans(Zech 4:6).

        Amen!(2)
      • In one of the more interesting and enjoyable classes I've been a member of the leader asked very thought provoking questions to encourage discussion. We all sat in a circle, which also is helpful in stimulating discussion. He went on the premise that we had all studied so did not reread the lesson to us.

        Amen!(3)
  4. Curtis, Thank you for proposing better teacher preparation:
    "Guiding a class that is consistently known for a great discussion takes a lot of preparation and forethought". Would you please offer additional guidance on the concept of "forethought".

    Would you consider offering a proposal on how to have more class preparation.
    Thank you.

    Amen!(4)
  5. Happy New Year to all! I found this website last year and from then I'm always tapping in. I also shared some of the comments from here as well. I'm truly blessed by how the Holyspirit gives each person different insight of the lessons. Thank you all,I look forward to these comments and the stimulating reading/topic each week.

    @ Curtis- you are quite right about getting class member to interact. Ideally it's what all teachers want(there are exceptions). The flip side however is that Ifind that there are quite a number of persons who do not study, no matter how much you encourage them to study lesson. Hence teachers are standing before the class lecturing. It's an awesome feeling when it's interactive and I learn as well.

    I can also relate to those who make it a preaching/beating over the head session(it's annoying for me when this happens) when it is conducted on a whole.
    ...Nevertheless this has been very helpful! God bless!

    Amen!(8)
    • Hi Nikky,

      Be sure to watch Curtis's presentation on "Guide Your Class with Questions."

      The bottom line is that, as teachers, we need to ask thought-provoking questions, not questions that test members on facts in the lesson.

      Thought-provoking questions are good for both those who studied and those who didn't. And the manner in which we ask questions can actually cause our members to feel that maybe they missed something by not studying. 😉

      Amen!(9)
  6. Teachers tends to talk more than their class members due to the fact that most class members do not contribute. As a result for the teacher to keep the class going has to talk more than s/he is suppose to. I think we have to keep praying for the teachers for them not to be bored and to do the best they can.

    Amen!(1)
    • Hi Khulumani. I like to suggest looking at this problem another way. I find that in many classes the members do not contribute due to the manner in which the class is being led. If you take that same group of people, sitting at potluck together, there would be a lot of back and forth. One reason is that they each have something to contribute and the atmosphere is suited for open conversation. We, as teachers, have to lead in ways that encourage conversation and that has an atmosphere of openess and appreciation.
      To do that we must develop thought-provoking questions and take our classes on a spiritual journey that is actually going somewhere interesting. And I agree, let's keep praying for our teachers.
      Thanks!

      Amen!(6)
      • I have one other suggestion I have found helpful: smaller classes than I have seen lately. It seems to be that more are going with one large class that requires the teacher to stand with a mic, thus keeping the timid from speaking out and the soft voices from being heard by all. Aren't we told about "small groups" being an advantage? I have witnessed much more involvement when smaller classes were held. People who never spoke up in a large class are very involved in the smaller class. It works. The other great advantage is more teachers are involved, and this is vital. It is also easier to cover more of the lesson with a smaller class. Many advantages!

        Amen!(4)
        • Robert, there certainly are advantages to small classes. However, as a visiting teacher in many churches, I regularly teach what we term General Lesson Study and always with a lot of participation. In many of the churches I visit, they may have a few classes in the sanctuary with a few members each. I actually encourage them to combine into one class and rotate the teachers. It really isn't the size of the class that drives the conversation; it's the teacher's facilitation skills (which involves much). Even in large groups, if it is conducted right, you'll not only get less vocal people to participate, you'll also get visitors to join in.

          This coming Sabbath in a church that has asked me to provide teacher training, I will do the lesson study, in a general class format, in place of the sermon (during the 11:00 service). I expect to have participation from beginning to end and from young people as well as older members. I won't know who is a visitor but I always find that visitors were participants.

          Small groups should be action units. If all small groups do is sit together during lesson study, there isn't much advantage over a larger class. Small groups/ action units should function outside of church in some type of outreach endeavors.

          Amen!(0)
          • I don't doubt, that you get good participation even in larger classes, Curtis, but few teachers have your experience and skill level. And I would like to see you conduct an experiment: How many people participate in the amount of time given to the typical Sabbath School (number of minutes). If your class is longer (as in taking the whole church service), you have to stop counting. And what percentage of the total class does this number represent?

            I'd love to hear back from you on this. 🙂 But even if you don't report back, I suspect you will learn much from this. (When you are actually presenting classes on "how to teach," of course your class size would be large in order to give everyone a chance to be part of the class. After all, there's only one of you. 😉 )

            Amen!(1)
          • Same people, same teacher, different results when the class is smaller. Some are just not going to talk in a large group. A large class spread out over the whole sanctuary from the front to back rows is never an ideal environment for study, no matter how good the teacher. One local church does this in an even larger sanctuary and must pass around a mic for all to hear the comments from the audience. This resulted in a lot of "dead" time while the usher went across the room and down the aisles. Very little of the weeks topic was covered. Very few participated.

            Also, the large class will typically slow down the study with more comments/questions, often more "debating" (which must be moderated by the teacher to keep the study from being derailed) which often leaves so much uncovered. With some teachers, they finally "get to the lesson" 5 minutes before the time is up, preferring to take the time for some personal subject of interest that often has nothing to do with the lesson for the week. This has been the result of the larger class with rotating teachers. Some simply have other interests to present and take that time for it.

            SS in many places is in peril. Can't say it too often.

            Amen!(2)
        • On the subject of class size, I agree strongly with Robert. Here's why: Past research on Sabbath Schools has indicated that the highest percentage of participation is generated in groups of 8-12 members. In larger classes, it's seldom that more than 8-12 members participate. The thing is that in a small class, that is 100% participation. As the classes get larger, the percentage gets less and less. (Some years back the General Conference Sabbath School Department put on a real push for smaller classes and gave the reasons why. And, yes, these can and perhaps should function as "action groups," meeting during the week as well. That would make them just so much more effective.)

          I believe that students who participate are the ones who learn the most. Thus the environment that facilitates the highest percentage of participation would seem to be the best for learning purposes.

          I just checked now on "class sizes" in public education, and the same general idea is proposed. In this case "small" classes are defined from 15-17 students. Responses in a discussion indicate that the larger the class size, the more the "interaction" degrades into monologue aka lecture. Actual research has consistently confirmed that the smaller the class size, the better students learn, and I don't see why this should be different for Sabbath Schools.

          Maybe there was a reason Christ chose exactly 12 disciples to be continually close to Him so He could teach them? Maybe it's because even He needed a "small class" to teach most effectively? Yes, He taught larger groups, including hundreds at a time, and there's still a place for that, but for the regular Sabbath School classes, we should strive to make small classes the norm, encouraging member participation and creativity

          Amen!(3)
          • Yes Inge, I'm familiar with the research on class sizes. All things being equal, smaller classes opposed to large classes are better. However, all things are not equal 🙂 Many times there are small class (8 or less) that are not interactive. We want as many people to participate but there will always be those who gain much from a good discussion although they themselves didn't talk. My main concern is not the class size. I'm concerned with the quality of teaching whether the class size is 5 or 500.
            If I had two good teachers I would rather have them lead larger groups than five teachers with smaller ineffective groups. By ineffective I mean teachers that are just repeating what we already know to people who already know it 🙂

            Amen!(4)
          • Curtis, I think we may have to educate *members* on the purpose of Sabbath School too. It is their doing as well as the teacher's if we see "teachers that are just repeating what we already know to people who already know it" - who demonstrate the typical bad (non)teaching.

            I have personally observed the very same teacher with such a tendency teach in a sanctuary with predictable results and another Sabbath being seated at a table with another 11 or so class members. Same teacher, different class. But the small class started discussing almost immediately because they were used to doing so. They knew what Sabbath School was supposed to be like. And the teacher actually enjoyed the discussion that others were effectively leading!

            So I don't think it's all up to the teachers. 😉 Poor teachers in front of small, alive classes can still result in good discussion.

            I appreciate your focus on teachers, because that *is* important. When you travel, you generally speak to teachers, so that is your audience, and I'm so glad you're doing what you're doing. 🙂

            But if we could educate *members* to be more proactive, we could have good Sabbath School classes even without good teachers. (Actually just one member who asks skilled thought-provoking questions, ostensibly directed at a teacher, can often turn things around.

            So I would like to challenge all the Sabbath School members reading this to take ownership of the quality of their Sabbath School class: Ask the Lord to show you how to make the Sabbath School class more spiritual and more helpful, even if you are not the assigned teacher.

            And I would love to hear from others who have actually done that.

            (I already shared that I have done this many times - usually in classes of complete strangers at places we have visited. Usually we ended up engaged in conversation even after the class ended and in the lunch hour.)

            I believe that, by the grace of God, many others can do the same thing and make their own Sabbath School classes more helpful and interesting. *Own* your class. Don't just go as a spectator! (Of course, this is much easier to do in a small group than in a large class with a teacher "in charge.")

            Amen!(3)
          • Inge, isn't the purpose of SS; "Evangelism"? Isn't it referred to as being our greatest outreach(if properly conducted)? I'm just paraphrasing some of Ellen's work, who goes on to say that "every member" should be instructed on "how to conduct and teach a Sabbath School class", and to give bible studies. "Every church is to be a training school" for the work of the Gospel. So your proposal to educate members is spot on. But the sad reality is that few desire to be thus trained. I speak from experience, unfortunately. There are a few, but this is a very small percentage, and the classes have always been small, but most of those attending had genuine interest and today, it shows in where they are and what they are doing.

            We know that few will be involved in the final work and that most will actually join the opposition against it. With this foresight given to us, we can move forward with courage regardless of the few that respond or the opposition Satan will arouse to discourage it. This work will be victorious in the end, and the future for the servants of God is bright and glorious.

            Amen!(2)
          • Yes, indeed, Robert, *every* member needs to be trained to lead. And I'm challenging *every* member to take "ownership" of their own Sabbath School classes if they are not as interactive as they ought to be.

            I'm so sorry that your experience has been so negative. I believe that if members had any hope that they could make a difference, many would be eager to learn how to make that difference. Often members feel that their voice doesn't really count. I have a feeling that may be a result of too much focus on pastors and leaders - as though they're the ones that are supposed to be doing the work. Pastors who "take charge" in making most of the decisions and have board meetings to rubber stamp their plans foster that kind of attitude in churches, and the attitude affects almost all members.

            I believe it gets back down to recognizing that Christ commissioned *all* followers to spread the Good News. And He said we should *not* be like the world which has leaders that "lord it" over them. - i.e. make all the decisions. Christ that that we should treat each other as equals - and that would include the pastors and other leaders. If we could only learn that lesson, I believe it would help to stimulate a revival in our churchces.

            Amen!(3)
      • Since we took a little side track into class sizes in this discussion, I would like to affirm what Curtis said about the reason for class members not contributing. The reason is generally how the "teacher" leads the class. If the teacher lectures and asks an occasional fact-based question, members are hardly likely to contribute.

        The key to an interactive class is for the teacher to ask the right kind of questions. Please re-read the post above and watch "Guide Your Class with Questions." Then prepare to ask thought-provoking questions to stimulate discussion, not questions to "test" the class!

        Amen!(1)
        • Good teaching helps, but with all things being equal, I have observed people who never speak in the large class being very involved in the smaller class.

          Amen!(0)
    • William, unfortunately, in many of our churches, there are no classrooms and all that is available is the sanctuary. There are definite drawbacks from teaching in a sanctuary setting but we have to make it work. That's one of the problems when we buy older church buildings. I love going into a modern church building where there are classrooms. That is the exception and not the norm it seems in many of the churches I visit.

      I do think we should rethink how we do our sanctuary classes. If we find that people cannot actually hear the discussion because of competing voices from other classes, we should make adjustments to correct that rather than just go on year to year as if we can never make adjustments.

      And I agree, Joyce has some great questions for teachers.
      Thanks!

      Amen!(3)
    • Oh wow, circle class' are the best, you are facing one another, you can see body language, you can hear one another, you are talking to someone in the class not just the teacher, so that encourages others to discussion. It causes a fellowship w/your classmates. I really encourage circle class'

      Amen!(3)
  7. Since the subject of class size has been brought up relative to discussions, let's hear it from our readers:

    Are you just as likely to speak up in a class of 50 as in a class of 12?

    Would you be more likely to speak up in a class of 12 than in a class of 20?

    We, the teachers, need to hear from you, our class members!!

    Amen!(1)
    • There was a time when even 12 people in the class intimidated me terribly, but by God's grace, today, 10,000+ doesn't matter. What I have found is that many still fall back into silence when the class exceeds the smaller sizes(6-12, etc). Many are not willing to be "wrong" in front of too many people, and until they realize that there is no "wrong", they will hold back.

      As Curtis pointed out, everyone is talking at the potluck, but there is no "wrong" answers to fear at the table. So how to remove that fear is a challenge to meet isn't it? But there also needs to be the same work as Jesus did, one on one, to bring every member to their full potential, however the Spirit of God will lead in this work. It will be worth it.

      Amen!(4)
      • Do you notice at potluck we are setting at a table, across from someone, not in a pew looking at their back. Do you suppose that's the key to discussion?

        Amen!(2)
        • Evie, it certainly is a plus sitting in a circle but I have seen classes in circles and no one was saying a word, other than the teacher and one or two more. The setting helps but that is not the primary factor in good Bible-based discussions. I have also been in classes in pews where people were talking back and forth. It wasn't the ideal setting but it worked for them. To me, the responsibility weighs mostly on the facilitator.

          Amen!(3)
      • Robert, you allude to an interesting point. If people are concerned with being wrong by their response, that really says more about the atmosphere about the class. Our classes should be safe zones where our members feel free to give their input without fearing they may be attacked or embarrassed. I find this more so in classes that allow religious debating or where pet issues are always highlighted. Teachers must lead in a way that everyone knows their input, whether typical or not, is appreciated.

        Amen!(4)
  8. My own church doesn't even have a teacher roster this quarter. Of our semi-regular class besides myself, 2 are gray nomads who travel as their finances allow, 1 has a conference leadership position, 1 is a older pastoral student (rarely seen in Sabbath School) and 1 is in the local retirement village and it's rarely a given who is going to be here any week. Last week there was just 2 of us. I do study each day with a view that I may (likely) need to take the lesson each week & it's not a bad thing.

    From personal experience I feel there's greater intimacy in a smaller group and a greater opportunity to involve everyone even if they haven't studied through the week as unfortunately often happens.

    As a teacher there is a big responsibility that comes with directing the lesson and ensuring thoughtful discussion and it doesn't require a degree. An application of the lessons from week 1 will probably suffice. I do like Inge's point too that it really is a matter for each member to be prepared. I've travelled less than Inge but have also sat in on lessons that tend to be a reading of the lesson (barely a few days at that) without gleaning the gems that lie just below and a thoughtful question is all that may be needed to bring life to what otherwise in reality might be a struggling discussion.

    Amen!(3)
    • Hi Robbie. Your description of Sabbath school is...depressing. Is there any potential for a better Sabbath school? Does the church have many more members? Do you have a ministry leader and if so, has there been a conversation on how to improve the situation? Even in a situation like yours, there are ways to make the most of it but that won't happen without much planning and prayer. I'm interested to hear your answers. Thanks

      Amen!(1)
  9. Spot on. I try to avoid SS classes that feature a 45 minute lecture from the teacher. I am a SS "teacher" once a month and I prefer to call myself a "facilitator". I like full participation from the class, composed mostly of the over 65 crowd.

    Amen!(1)
  10. Excellent post!! Thank you Curtis!!

    We have excellent Sabbath school classes and I have tried to do the very things you list in the do's and don'ts. It requires much volunteer time during the week to study the Bible verses in the lesson, the comments in the Bible study guide, and to prepare other related material.

    It requires creativity and much patience to "give members “something to talk about”" and to let the class answer the questions.

    When questions are raised or I ask a question, I will ask attendees what anyone thinks, giving time for varied answers, and I often let the group answer questions and not give an answer at all.

    Many Sabbath school classes I have attended rely on lecture and the teacher mostly uses the Bible study guide without much creative thinking. I think this is one of the reasons for the lack of Sabbath school attendance.

    Sabbath school study is valuable to me and I look forward to our class each week. As a teacher, I learn from each person who attends and contributes. We all should be learning from the Bible and from each other.

    Amen!(4)
    • Jane, thank you for your comments. You definitely hit the mark as a teacher. You mentioned one thing that is very important - time. I believe that for every ten minutes of lesson study time, the teacher should devote one hour in preparation. That means for a 45-minute class, the teacher should be putting in 4-5 hours at least, in prep. It takes time to digest the message, create an outline that generates participation and that actually leads somewhere. And visual creativity is no accident. I would love to sit in your class one day 🙂
      Thanks!

      Amen!(2)
      • In addition to your comment regarding the amount of *time* for teachers to prepare, I would like to suggest that it is very helpful to study through the whole lesson early in the week and to start thinking about how to present it. I find when I do that, the Holy Spirit is able to suggest thoughts that I might not otherwise have. Hurried Friday-evening preparation is not likely to result in a good Sabbath School class experience. But if a teacher is caught short on Friday evening, it is probably better to allow the class do most of the talking rather than try to "present" the lesson. It is quite possible that others have much to contribute.

        I learn something every time I teach. If I didn't, I would have to conclude that I didn't allow anyone to teach me by doing too much talking myself. 😉

        Amen!(1)
        • Good point Inge. Often, after going over the lesson a few times, I'll find my inspiration while doing some mundane chore such as cutting the grass. Some "aha" thought will come to mind and that will give me a fresh avenue to explore and ultimately to share with my class.
          And you're right, let the class help carry the discussion 🙂

          Amen!(1)
  11. Thanks! for the reminder, I was in one of your Sabbath School Leadership classes. We were instructed that the Sabbath School was not just for the Teachers, but for the all the members, to be given a chance to share what is on their heart. So We learn something from each of our students. Thanks again

    Amen!(4)
  12. The meaning of "some thing to talk" is not a simple statement but to lead the sabbath school in a deep learning center of faith, participating all members can be improved the sabbath school discussion ideology. One person discussion is boring and sleepy hour of mind.

    Amen!(1)
  13. Inge, I prefer a smaller class (less than 15). I am sort of shy but when I feel strongly about a subject I do share with the class and it certainly makes it easier to express how I feel when I'm in a smaller group. It also helps when I know the group of people in the classroom. Thank you.

    Amen!(1)
  14. Inge and all, I was thinking about this small group question posed. There are many advantages to well run small groups. There is no question about that. I wanted to ask a broader question. If small groups, with participation, is the best way to learn, how do we explain sitting through sermons week after week, year after year? Is there real learning taking place? We can expand this questions to large-scale evangelistic efforts where hundreds and sometimes thousands attend. Are the people really being taught? I believe so but I would like to hear your thoughts. Thanks

    Amen!(1)
    • There is a difference in evangelistic "preaching", which is done to ultimately draw individuals into a smaller study environment for more intimate instruction through interactive participation, which a large audience would not allow with as much success. Remember, Jesus greatest success was with the one person audience(Nicodemus, woman at the well, Zaccheus, etc).

      Amen!(0)
      • Robert, I understand your point. I would not go so far to say that Jesus greatest success was one on one. His sermon on the mount was life changing for many listeners as well as teaching from Peter's boat, etc. I would say that the Holy Spirit takes the words of Christ and brings them to force in our minds just as if we were one on one with Jesus himself. Agree?

        Amen!(1)
        • Curtis, I was paraphrasing a well-known quote from Ellen about how our best opportunity to share with others is one on one, as it was with Jesus. In the crowds, not much happened in the way of questions/answers, but usually afterwards the disciples would come aside to Him with their questions, as well as other individuals such as Nicodemus. The whole focus of the large work is to lead people to find interest in personal studies with Bible workers or capable church members, which is why every member is to be trained to teach and give bible studies(yes, more counsel from Jesus through the pen Ellen).

          Amen!(1)
  15. Interesting discussion. Having taught SS for over 40 years I have found that having one teacher vs. rotating teachers, who has a grasp of the central message of the quarterly as a whole and thus ties together each lesson both with a preview and review plus practical, real time shared experiences works well in almost every situation. Too often the topic is discussed as a history lesson. Fostering personal relationships within small classes, acknowledging visitors, etc. is also effective in establishing the atmosphere. Plus the teacher doesn't always have to have the only answer.

    Amen!(1)
    • I would add that too often, the rotating teachers often breaks the continuity that must be carried from lesson to lesson each week. Some teachers will not even discuss the lesson, but rather, share a personal interest that at times will be no where near the topic. Some will "preach" the whole time, others labor to be amusing and entertaining. The need for sound, Spirit-filled teaching remain.

      Amen!(0)
    • Anita, you make some good points. To be quite honest, this quarter's lessons present a real challenge for teaching. How do we not make these topics just history lessons? Or to put it another way, what in these lessons would be new to the majority of the attendees of our classes?
      If all we do is repeat what we already know to people who already know it, we are not creating an atmosphere of real learning. We must dig beneath the surface, ask God for wisdom and pray for the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. History lessons will not attract people to attend our classes.
      Thanks

      Amen!(1)
      • Curtis, could it be that the study guides leave nothing for students to search for on their own? Is spoon-feeding the best way to teach? It has seemed to me that too many questions are answered in the quarterlies, complete with quotes from Ellen, so there is little left to search for. Then the class often re-reads the entire lesson so that there is nothing fresh about the SS class.

        I wish this would be looked at closely and also, I would like those in charge of creating the lessons to trust the Holy Spirit to teach the world membership, and not feel they need to spoon-feed all the answers. This is not true study as it remains, and yes, it's a challenge at times to "teach" many of the lessons, though not impossible.

        To me, the ideal study guide would have one page for each weekly lesson, listing a topic and some questions. No texts provided, just questions that the student must respond to using the Bible as their source. Sure, you might get fewer people "studying"(reading?) the lesson each week, but those who do will gain so much more experience and knowledge, relying on the Holy Spirit as their Teacher, and not the human author. Imagine the class on Sabbath when all come to share and compare their findings! It will be fresh and I would say, far more interesting and educational.

        Amen!(2)
        • Robert, I think the "ideal study guide" would be different for different people.

          I also think it's the attitude we bring towards the Sabbath School lessons that makes the difference: If we see them as a catechism, we will never gain full benefits. But if we see them as a starting point for further study, we will always benefit. I am always asking myself how this lesson is applicable to me today or what can my class members gain from this lesson. Thus the lessons are the gateway to a rich experience in the Word of God.

          It helps to remember that the lessons are supposed to help every member around the world - no matter what culture or what level of experience. Of course, that's not to say that they cannot be improved. 🙂

          Amen!(1)
          • Inge, when I talk with ministry teams about their "teachers meeting" (for those who still have them), I suggest they approach their discussion from the standpoint you just mentioned, namely, how can this lesson benefit those in the classes. Teacher's meetings must be more than just another discussion about what we already know to people who already know it. Let's think about how to make our discussions applicable and relevant to our class members lives.

            Amen!(0)
        • Hi Robert, that would indeed be refreshing...although even under the current format, depending on who is leading the Sabbath School lesson,such discussion is possible. It is when the leader of the class sees himself as a 'teacher', rather than a leader in discussion, that even in your proposed format above, the lesson would become a time of indoctrination rather than discussion.

          Amen!(0)

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