Application – Moving from Head Knowledge to Heart Transformation

The goal of our Sunday School programs should always be transformation.

Although Bible knowledge is important, we don’t want our kids to just learn Bible knowledge. We want our kids to be transformed into the image of Jesus.

Sunday School should be primarily about discipleship. Application time therefore is a very important part of Sunday School. If we just taught the Bible lesson, we would be growing kids with a lot of head knowledge and likely little heart transformation.

Application time is the part of Sunday School where the 1 thing you have focused on in the lesson is made personal for each child.

Here’s an example. You are teaching a class of kids in Grades 4-6. The lesson is on Jesus, the Son of Man. The theme you have chosen to focus on, the 1 thing, is “Jesus Became Fully Human.” You have completed the lesson – shown the kids from the Bible that Jesus was fully human – and now it is application time.

1st – Application time is the kids opportunity to talk.

Design this portion of the lesson in such a way that your students feel comfortable talking. This could mean changing places. If your lesson was at a table, you may want to move to chairs in a circle. Also you may want to split the kids into smaller groups (if you have enough adults). Once settled, remember to let the kids do most of the talking. Your responsibility is to guide the conversation and keep the kids on track. You can do this by learning to ask good questions.

2nd – Build a bridge for the kids between the Bible lesson and the personal connection to their lives.

Kids don’t automatically see the connections. Your job as a teacher is to help them see it. There isn’t one response to one theme. There are infinite directions application time could be taken in. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance, trust your knowledge of your kids, and then choose a direction to head. It may change during the discussion, so be open to that.

Once you have chosen a direction, plan some questions to ask that will help the kids see a connection between your 1 thing and their own lives. Continuing our example, the direction you choose to take with your theme of Jesus being fully human is that because Jesus is fully human He understands and can sympathize with us – when we struggle to resist temptation and when we feel confused and scared.

3rd – Ask questions that cannot be answered with just yes or no.

Ask questions that will force your students to think. “Tell me about a time when you were really scared/troubled/sad. Can you think of a story from the Bible that shows Jesus feeling the same way? How does it help you to know that Jesus understands?”

4th – Finish application time with an opportunity for the kids to apply this truth to their lives this week.

Make it personal and immediate. Always take time to pray. Give the kids the opportunity to talk to God privately and as a group. Encourage them to ask God to give them chances to practice what they have learned this week.

Transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit. So, pray. Pray while you are preparing your lesson, pray during your lesson, and pray throughout the week that the Holy Spirit would be at work in the lives of your students – softening their hearts, helping to apply truth to their lives, transforming them into the image of Jesus.

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Teach 1 Thing

Teach 1 ThingWhen preparing your Sunday School lesson, it can be very tempting to cram as much as possible into the time you have. After all, you want the kids to learn everything!

The problem is that the kids will end up leaving your class discouraged and overwhelmed. When asked, “What did you learn in Sunday School today?” they will not be able to give a good answer.

One of the most important truths a Sunday School teacher can master is to teach 1 thing.

Here’s how to decide what 1 thing to focus on:

Pray

Ask God to show you the 1 truth He wants you to focus on.

Read through the lesson

Read everything: all the suggested scripture, the entire lesson, the application, any additional material.

Look at the themes

Most curriculums will list one or more key themes at the beginning of the lesson. These may be called key themes, themes, aims, objectives, goals, truths, etc. You may be able to take your “1 thing” directly from here or use one listed as a base to build on.

Decide on 1 central theme

Once you have prayed and read through everything, you now have to decide what the 1 thing is you want to teach in this lesson. Don’t worry about getting it wrong. Different teachers will choose different themes and you may even choose something different the next time you teach this lesson. The Bible has so much to teach us – so choose 1 thing. Once you have decided, write it out in a single sentence.

Go back through the lesson

This is the time to be ruthless. Get rid of everything that isn’t about your 1 thing. It may be the truth, it may be Biblical and God-centered, it may be something you want the children to learn, but if it isn’t about the 1 central theme then it shouldn’t be in this lesson.

Insert your 1 thing throughout the lesson

Your 1 thing should be repeated often throughout the lesson, but that won’t happen unless you put it in.

Focus the application

You may need to change the application a lot depending on what you have chosen for your 1 thing. The 1 thing as stated will be a truth – about God, us, the Bible. During application, your job is to take that 1 truth and move it from head knowledge to heart transformation. There is a lot to say about this, so watch for it in an upcoming post.

When you focus your lesson on 1 central theme, your kids will be able to follow you, remain focused, and walk away having learned that 1 thing really well.

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