The Gift of Good Questions


When I was on church staff we enjoyed eleven consecutive years or growth, growing from one service and one Sunday School to four services and four Sunday Schools, including a Saturday night service and Sunday School.

One key part of my approach was to write lesson helps for my teachers each week that consisted of about 25 good questions that were ready-to-use in class. These lessons did several things for me as a Minister of Education:

  • They turned lectures into conversations. I wanted my groups talking to each other, not listening to an mini-sermon. These lessons did that for me.
  •  They improved the quality of the class experience. Conversations are more interesting than listening to lectures. These lessons dramatically improved the quality of the in-class experience.
  •  The ensured that the teaching had an application orientation. Sense I was writing the lessons, I knew that they would be talking about how lives could be changed, not just discussing biblical history.
  •  They made it much easier to get teachers. It was easier for me to get teachers because it was easier–much easier–for the teacher to prepare. I can honestly say I didn’t struggle to get adult teachers. (Someone else was in charge of youth and children.) All they had to do was carefully read the lessons I had written, making adaptations for their personality and class, read Lifeway’s curriculum guides, and they were good to go. They could spend their time in ministry rather than in the books.
  • They really came in handy when I needed a last-minute sub. I remember one time seeing a guy grab a lesson from the church office and read it as he was walking down the hall. There had been a mix-up as to who was to teach that week. (I know this never happens for you!) He continued to read while someone else took prayer requests. By the time we said, “Amen” he was ready to teach. He taught a half-way decent lesson–probably in the top half–with only ten minutes of preparation. No telling how well he would have done if he had a couple hours to work with. Can your curriculum do that?
  •  They made finding new teachers and starting new classes much easier. Growing a Sunday School is all about starting new units. Starting new units is all about getting workers. Because it was so much easy to prepare and present a lesson, it made it much easier to find teachers. It made it much easier to divide classes because we had teachers to work with. They could see, “I can do that. I can lead a discussion if you put 25 good questions in my hand. Let me take a crack at that.”

Other churches stated hearing about these lessons and, for a time, I mailed some out each week. But, with the cost of stamps and the hassle of stuffing envelops, it just made this plan too cumbersome. When the Internet came along, I saw immediately a delivery system for these lessons. I got on the Internet so that I could deliver these lessons. Later, this blossomed into a conference ministry.

Today, these same lessons are still available online. I write three fresh new lessons every week. (I have probably written more Sunday School lessons than anyone else alive!) These correspond with all three of Lifeway’s outlines:

  •  Explore the Bible Series
  •  Bible Studies for Life
  •  Masterworks (by far and away my personal favorite).

Why not give your teachers the gift of Good Questions this Christmas? They will be glad you did. More importantly, every one of their students will be glad you did as you watch your lecture classes turn into a buzz of conversation.

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