Chapter 6 (continued)
Be a Training Center
As the Bible says, "The unfolding of Thy words gives light; I It gives understanding to the simple [unprejudiced (the original meaning in Greek)]" (Ps. 119:130). A teacher's paramount duty is to unfold God's Word to his students. If the unfolding of the passage is not thorough, then how can the students say "Amen"? The definition, sources, purposes, methods, and "don'ts" of explanation are described below.
Explanation means that a teacher uses questions and answers, illustrations, narrations, metaphors, idioms, detailed
descriptions or even gestures to explain the content of a passage. These are essential to the students' understanding
and recollection of God's Word, as well as the Holy Spirit's enlightenment regarding its reality.
(2) Sources of Explanation:
(a) The grammatical structure and accurate meaning of the passage in its original language (if possible).
(b) The biblical meaning applied in the passage (study the context of the passage).
(c) The historical, geographical, cultural, and traditional background of the passage.
(d) The principles of God's revelation (progressive and organic).
(e) The explicit and hidden meaning in the passage.
(f) The spiritual experiences of others or of your own.
(3) Purposes of Explanation:
(a) To make the content clear so that there is no ambiguity.
(b) To build up the main theme so that it is clear and obvious.
(c) To arouse the students' interest towards the lesson.
(d) To help students recall the lesson with ease.
(e) To enable students to be inspired more easily.
(f) To encourage students to apply the lesson.
(4) Methods of Explanation:
(a) Use words and phrases that are familiar to the students.
(b) Motivate students to think.
(c) Insert questions to get students involved.
(d) Explain new ideas (or insights) in detail.
(e) Explain according to the order of the verses, if possible.
(f) Apply the definition, analysis, comparison, and emphasis properly.
(g) Use illustrations appropriately.
(h) Use suitable tones, expressions, and gestures.
(i) Use audio-visual aids.
(j) Introduce books related to the lesson.
(5) Don'ts of Explanation:
(a) Don't explain what you do not thoroughly understand (especially the original language).
(b) Don't apply any explanation that is not completely accurate.
(c) Don't explain what cannot be explained.
(d) Don't waste time on what is unnecessary to explain.
(e) Don't over explain, but rather, conclude at the right point; don't "make a mountain out of a mole hill."
(f) Don't read from your outline; rather, elaborate from it.
(g) Don't use explanation to show off knowledge and to puff yourself up.
Application means putting what has been learned into practice. God's truth is for our application, as the Bible says, "All Scripture is inspired [Greek: God-breathed]...that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17). All Scripture is for us to put into practice right after hearing it. Therefore, Sunday school teaching should be neither empty talk nor lip service, else students may be at a loss, feeling powerless and frustrated towards the Bible. Pay attention to the following in "application":
Application is to prompt students to think and provide them with practical ways of applying what they have learned
to their daily life. Application is also to instruct them about the required conditions that should be fulfilled and the steps
that should be taken.
(2) Forms of Application:
(a) Remarks: Use a few sentences to direct the students' attention to different areas in the passage that ought to be put
(b) Inference: Through inference, draw from the passage all that appeals to their emotions, and move the students to
apply them willingly in their lives.
(c) Enlightenment: Through the prompting of insightful thoughts, strive to bring forth a more perfect and detailed
enlightenment of the lesson that students may practice after class.
(3) Steps of Application:
(a) Proposition: What should be applied? (content)
(b) Suggestion: How should it be applied or put into practice? (methods)
(c) Persuasion: Why should students apply or put it into practice? (reasons)
(4) Purposes of Application:
(a) To help students understand God's will.
(b) To put biblical truth into practice.
(c) To have optimal spiritual growth.
(d) To develop personal spiritual gifts.
(e) To be good examples to others.
(f) To lead others to the Lord.
(g) To speed up the coming of God's kingdom.
(5) The Musts of Application:
(a) It must immediately follow an explanation.
(b) It must be related closely to the actual daily lives of the students.
(c) It must be in harmony with the content of the lesson.
(d) It must encourage the students to march forward.
(e) It must correct the students' mistakes.
(f) It must be achievable by the students.
(g) It must be connected to the expansion of God's kingdom.
If a teacher's lesson has explanation and application but not motivation (orincentive), it is just like a brand new car without an engine. Regardless of how splendidly it has been decorated, the car is in reality useless. This same analogy can be made concerning teaching Sunday school. A teacher not only has to explain the passage clearly and emphasize application, but also motivate students to apply and to put into practice what has been learned. Only then, will each student be as the Bible says, "one who.. .not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does" (Jas. 1:25). In "motivation", we should pay attention to the following:
Motivation is to stimulate students to enthusiastically, effectively and practically apply or put into practice the truths they
have learned in their daily personal lives or work.
(2) Purposes of Motivation:
(a) To emphasize the importance of application.
(b) To remind students of the purpose of applying God's revelation.
(c) To strengthen the students' willingness to carry out the application.
(d) To encourage students to lay down themselves willingly for the Lord, in order to apply what they have learned.
(e) To motivate students to· show empathy towards one another.
(3) Factors of Motivation:
(a) God's love.
(b) Commands of the Bible.
(c) Duties of a Christian.
(d) Needs of the world.
(e) Weakness of the Church today.
(f) Necessity for spiritual growth.
(g) Conditions for the Lord's second coming.
(4) Methods of Motivation:
(a) Challenge of the emotions.
(b) Persuasion of the intellect.
(c) Guidance of the will.
(d) illumination of the Holy Spirit.
(5) Suggestions for Motivation:
(a) Pray for the motivation needed for your lesson.
(b) Be motivated by the passage yourself.
(c) Gradually achieve a climax in the progress of motivation, according to the development of the passage.
(d) Vary the words and phrases for motivation to avoid boredom.
(e) Use tones, gestures and pauses for emphasis.
(f) Use personal testimonies.
(g) Pray before and after the lesson for the power of motivation.
(h) Use illustrations and quotations from prominent and respected individuals.
(i) Use powerful Scripture passages.
(j) Suggest motivations subtly rather than through direct approaches.
It is inevitable that the above suggestions are incomplete. Because of the restriction imposed due to the length of this book, I can only touch on these principles briefly in the form of an outline. I do hope that Sunday school teachers are able to draw analogies from these suggestions, and with their own inferences, grasp a clear understanding of how a Sunday school lesson should be taught. By the grace of God, may all churches realize the importance of this ministry, that they will put Sunday school as their foremost priority, thereby establishing a solid reconstruction of the whole ministry. A strong Sunday school ministry will bring about the growth of the whole church, and will thus enable us to complete our gracious Lord's desire which He expressed in the Great Commission, "teaching them to observe all that I commanded you." Then, the Church will be blessed and God's kingdom will come all the sooner, "Amen! Come, Lord Jesus."