Great Sunday School Teachers Always Answer These 4 Questions

Every wonder how some teachers seem to always keep their class engaged? It seems that no matter what they teach their kids are listening and enjoying the lesson!

Meanwhile, the rest of us teachers are sitting there thinking, we basically told the same story and yet, we didn’t have nearly the excitement or engagement level that they did!

Well I’d like to show you 4 questions, that I saw Andy Stanley present, and I thought they were fantastic for teachers of any age.

If you organize your thoughts around these 4 questions, not only will you be a better teacher, but your students will naturally be better listeners!


Here are the 4 questions:

What do they need to know? ( the 1 thing)

Yes, they need to the story. But what’s the point of the story?

And no, there are not 5 points. There is only ONE.

If I gave you a list of 5 things and asked you later about them, you’d remember 1 of them.

[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”]Our brains aren’t designed to remember lists. [/pullquote]

Our brains aren’t designed to remember lists. They are designed for focus, on one thing.

When you teach your lesson you must know what the 1 principle or 1 idea you want your kids to walk away with is.

Think of a good TED talk. The speaker doesn’t ramble on and on about multiple topics. They have a main point, and everything they say points to and reinforces that main idea.

You need to do the same thing with your lesson. Pick 1 big idea and throughout your lesson reinforce that idea. 

Why do they need to know it? (motivation)

This is probably the one most of us miss most often.

And it’s not good enough to say ‘because it’s God’s Word.’ Of course your class needs to know what is in God’s Word. But, as sinful humans, we aren’t able to instantly focus on any Biblical topic whenever at will. We need motivation.

And that motivation is always selfish.

Your audience, your class, must understand clearly what’s in it for them. If your class understands what problem it can solve, or what information your lesson can provide that they don’t know, you will have their attention.

Tension always brings attention. So you need to create tension by telling them there is something they don’t know, or you are going to reveal something amazing in the lesson today.

The more valuable you make the information to your audience, the more attention you will create.

For instance, “did you know the Bible reveals a secret for living a long life?”, or, “I’m going to tell you God’s address today, I’m going to tell you where, on earth, God lives!”.

NOW, I have their attention, and maybe yours too!

Promise a mysterious answer that will be revealed in your lesson. Create tension and win attention!

What do they need to do? (application)

Information is good. Application is better.

If you tell me that exercising raises my heart rate and causes me to sweat that is good information. But if that’s all I ever knew about exercising then it wouldn’t seem very useful.

But, when I answer “why?” the information matters that changes my outlook:

“When you raise your heartrate and exert lots of energy your body naturally burns fat! Exercise is a great way to lose weight!”

Now you have my attention. Losing weight is something I’m interested in. Now the information about heart rate and sweat means something to me.

[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”]Don’t fall into the trap of just transferring information as you teach..[/pullquote]

Don’t fall into the trap of just transferring information as you teach. Make sure you always come around and make application of that information.

A helpful tip…Application sentences start with phrases like:

“So that means….”

“When you understand this you can….”

“In other words….”

“As a result, you’ll be able to…”

Make the information you teach, relevant and applicable to your kids.

Why do they need to do it? (inspiration)

I’m a Joel Osteen fan.

If you’ve never heard him, watch this:

You know what I like so much? He inspires people really well. Every time he talks you find yourself motivated and excited about doing whatever he’s encouraging you to do.

After Joel gets done speaking you want to go take action.

If you want to be the best teacher you can be then you must inspire your kids. Giving them information is good, telling them why it matters is good, but when you add a sprinkle of inspiration to the mix it makes all the difference.

Give your class that zing of inspiration they need to go take action on what you taught them. Tell them they can do it! Tell them that you believe in them. Give them confidence that God, the most powerful being in the universe is on their side!

Inspire your class to action!


Learning More

Andy Stanley does a way better job than I can of explaining this. Watch his entire talk here:


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