We tend to view preaching and teaching in two separate lights. We see preaching as high energy and inspiring, yet we perceive teaching as low energy and mundane. Many view teaching in a “sit and get” fashion. People need a varied approach to teaching. Join me as we examine “Krispy Kreme®” to consider how I view good instruction.
I had a visiting minister come preach our youth week one year and we drove nearly an hour and a half to Grand Rapids, just to get a “Krispy Kreme®” donut. From the moment we stepped inside “Krispy Kreme®”, we knew we were not in an ordinary doughnut shop. In fact, customers are often fond of calling a visit to Krispy Kreme a “Disney-Like” experience that can be had for the price of a glazed donut.
When you see that hot sign on, you start getting certain sensations in your mouth. The company looks at it like an experience. It is not selling a product, It is selling an experience. Everything it does from a marketing standpoint is designed to reinforce that experience. (The 12 Secret Ingredients of Krispy Kreme’s Sweet Success. Kirk Kazanjian, pg 2)
I believe the same is true with teaching the Word of God. In a teaching setting it is important that students “experience” the Word of God in a hands-on way that helps them internalize what they are being taught. Below, I am going to walk you through the process of an interactive teaching lesson where students are “experiencing” the Word of God.
LESSON – “A REPENTANT HEART”
Once a student enters the classroom on a Sunday Morning, they will find the room setup with tables covered with brown painter’s paper. In the middle of the table they will find a bucket of supplies necessary for the day’s lesson. The lesson is on repentance so the buckets will have paper, envelops, permanent markers and other items. The tables also are covered with assorted cleaning supplies. One table has toilet paper, a plunger, bleach and a trash bag. Another table has a broom, mop bucket and furniture polish. Each table has something different. As students enter the room, they are greeted by a table leader who helps them get seated and offers them breakfast that is waiting for them at their table.
After the five-minute countdown on the screen is complete, a leader opens with prayer and then starts us off with an exciting icebreaker that introduces the topic of repentance to the class. The students are told to leave their table then get in a circle. Each student is given a permanent marker and is told to wait for instructions. 26 balloons are needed with each letter of the alphabet written on a separate balloon. The objective once the music starts is to go from balloon to balloon and write key words dealing with repentance that start with the corresponding letter. After students are given a certain amount of time to brainstorm, they each get a balloon or two and form a circle and report the words written on their balloon. Examples of their answers may be “A for A Change of Heart,“ “B is for Breaking down barriers,” etc.
Students are then asked to take the cleaning supplies at their table and create a commercial for repentance that will include their cleaning products and at least two scriptures. After students have had time to come up with their commercial, go around the room and have them share their commercial with the rest of the class. The students will surprise you at how deep and Biblical their answers will be. Students love to get the bottle of bleach and talk about how the blood of Jesus is like bleach and leaves no stains. Of course this will be one of the funniest lessons you will ever see especially when a junior high boy gets a plunger.
The final reflective piece is to have the students take five minutes to write a letter to God discussing the areas they need to repent. This is a very sobering time where students can open their heart to God. Have them place their letter in an envelope and seal it. Then have all of the students get in a circle and place a trashcan in the middle. Have students come 2 to 4 at a time and throw their “trash” away. While they are doing that, have the rest of the student ministry pray for them. Do this until all students have gone through the process. Then at the conclusion of the lesson have an adult member take the trash out of the room and have the students rejoice! This is a great conclusion to the lesson.
BREAKING IT DOWN
Let’s take a look at each piece of this lesson and discover additional strategies for the teaching experience.
THE “EXPERIENCE” OF TABLE MINISTRY
I am a major proponent of using tables for Sunday morning teaching.
- It breaks students up into smaller groups
- It pre-determines groups that you can use during your teaching
- It create a greater sense of community
- It gives you a place to put the materials you will need for an interactive classroom
- It creates an atmosphere
- Have tables covered with paper (Hardware/building supply store has a brown painters paper that comes in a roll 100 ft long and three feet wide for $8.00 – depending on your size, the roll can last nearly a month)
- Place permanent markers or crayons on the tables so that students can write and take notes on the Also have candy on the tables to add to the presentation.
THE “EXPERIENCE” OF ICEBREAKERS
Many times we just dive into a topic and start teaching. An icebreaker can help you gauge the knowledge of your students before you start teaching your lesson. Some of these icebreakers may be fun but they are still instructional and will create a foundation for you to begin your teaching. Below are some icebreaker suggestions:
- POWER WRITE – Since Repentance can be messy, begin by having a drop cloth on the floor, and give students permanent markers and have them write their personal definition on the drop cloth. You can then use those definitions to start your lesson.
- CHAIN LETTER – Give one student a note that talks about repentance and then have the students pass it from student to student adding their own perspective.
- DISCUSSION BALL – They make professional discussion balls with religious questions on them, but I prefer to buy a $1.00 beach ball and take a list of labels and create 10 to 20 questions focused around my topic. I will put everyone in a circle and then have students throw the ball to each other. Wherever your right thumb lands when you catch the ball, that is the question you are to answer.
THE “EXPERIENCE” OF LESSON INTERACTION
I have learned that students are going to talk, write notes and move around while I am teaching, so I would rather them do these things based around our topic instead of their weekend plans. Here are a few activities to help them experience the lesson.
- DRAMA – Give students props and allow them to act out the lesson
- MEDIA – Allow students to use their video phones and create commercials, songs, or podcasts that will tie in with your topic – using at least one scripture reference.
- POOL NOODLES – I have had students illustrate each element of Acts 2:38 using pool noodles and masking tape. I give each table a group of noodles, tape and a topic. Then each table starts creating. One group will create Peter, another group creates an altar for repentance, another group makes a baptistry tank and the final group will make a gift. Each group has to define what their creation means.
THE “EXPERIENCE” OF RECAPPING
Once you pump a lot of information into your students, it is great to have them recap what they have learned. If your students leave with one thought from the lesson then you have done a great job! Below are some of my favorite recapping activities:
- ONE WORD – Recapping can be as simple as putting everyone in a circle and having them give “one word” that describes what they have just learned.
- PIPE CLEANERS – Pipe cleaners are one of the easiest and cheapest ways of recapping a lesson. Have each student create a symbol to represent what he/she learned in class. Go around the room and have everyone share their symbol.
- PLAY-DOH – Play-Doh is my favorite activity of all time! Yes, teens will play with Play-Doh. Have them create a story line using Play-Doh. After teaching this concept, I had a youth leader tell me their Sunday School class created a replica of the Old Testament Tabernacle using Play-Doh! Now that’s an experience!
- PHOTO COLLAGE – Provide newspapers and magazines that students can look through and find articles to recap your topic. Topics such as fear, violence, and sin work really well with this strategy.
I have heard that vision either sticks or leaks. The more that a student talks about, touches, sees, hears, and acts out the vision that you are teaching, the more likely they will be to “STICK” to the application that you are teaching.
- 8:10-8:20 – “Alphabet Balloon” Icebreaker
- 8:20-8:30 – Lesson Interaction with “Cleaning Commercials”
- 8:30-8:40 – The Lesson Recap with a “Letter to God”
- 8:40-8:50 – The Krispy Kreme Concept
- 8:50-9:00 – “HOT SIGN” icebreakers, lesson interaction and recaps
- 9:00-9:10 – Recap