This is a talk I presented to the Sunday School teachers in our church
who teach children up to grade 7. I thought I would share with all who
can teach children in church for warning and encouragement.
The Stimulus for Teaching Children
While we believe that teaching children the gospel is
primarily the function of parents, as Sunday School teachers you come
alongside parents to support them in this role. In the Sunday School
classroom children are taught the truths of the gospel in language that
works for them over and over again until it sticks.
Consider what you do as teachers in the light of Colossians 1:28 Him we
proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that
we may present everyone mature in Christ.
In Sunday School you are proclaiming Christ to children, you are warning
them of the reality of judgment and hell, and teaching them with wisdom
– as is appropriate to their age. This is done with the goal of
presenting everyone you teach as mature in Christ.
So you are part of the process that sees those children not only serving
in the body of Christ on earth but one day standing in glory before
Allow that thought to influence the way in which you teach.
The Seriousness of Teaching Children
James 3:1 – Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you
know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
Since we who teach will face a more serious judgment, we ought to
contemplate this sobering warning every time we prepare and teach.
Jesus warns in Matthew 18:6 but whoever causes one of these little ones
who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great
millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the
Imagine for a moment a sea voyage where you are tossed overboard with an
anvil chained to your neck. Jesus says that nightmare is preferable to
causing a child to sin. Yikes.
I would not be surprised or disappointed if some of you teachers asked
to resign your position, or to take a hiatus, or at least requested help
on how to teach better. There is no shame in quitting in the face of
these two warnings.
The Substance of Teaching Children
The substance of your content must be the gospel. You teach it over and
over in many different ways as you explain and make plain the core theme
of redemption through Christ’s atonement in both the Old and New
We teach kids Bible stories, as that is how they learn best. That is how
we all learn best, which Jesus knew and modeled for us. But help draw
the line from the teachings of Jesus to the person and work of Jesus.
And then attached helpful memory verses that encapsulate important
doctrines for your young students to live by.
As a teacher you must know the truths you are teaching, so you have to
do thorough preparation for your lessons. If there is something you
don’t understand yourself, then find out. Children know if you have not
prepared and if you don’t take their lesson seriously.
But kids don’t only learn from what you say. They learn from what they
see in your life. You need to live the truths you are teaching. Watch
your life in front of your children. The way you speak to them teaches
them. Don’t gossip, be patient, be kind, be cheerful, be serious about
prayer, dress modestly.
All of this encompasses what you teach.
The Standards for Teaching Children
Your private holiness as a teacher is important. Paul told the young
Timothy to train himself for godliness (1 Timothy 4:7). I pass that
injunction on to you. Are you committed to daily devotions, prayer, and
the studying of Scripture? Are you overcoming sin? Are you giving to the
work of the ministry generously and sacrificially? Do you worship
regularly with the church? Are you an exemplary leader for our children
to emulate as you imitate Christ?
As a teacher your public holiness is just as important as your private
holiness. Paul tells Timothy to be an example in “in speech, in conduct,
in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Watch what you say and
do in public because the children you teach are watching you, their
parents are watching you. They’ll learn from what movies you watch, how
you dress, how you treat alcohol, how you react to stressful situations.
You aren’t pursuing holiness to please people, you are pleasing the
Lord, but you do so in front of people who are learning from you. So
take that pursuit seriously.
The Satisfaction from Teaching Children
In terms of the language used by the Bible a Sunday School teacher is a
teacher, an evangelist and a servant. In a real sense a deacon. Now you
might not have the official title of deacon in your church, but you are a
servant of Christ and of the church. This is a privileged function that
comes with recognition and reward.
Notice 1 Timothy 3:13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good
standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is
in Christ Jesus.
Those who serve well gain a great reward. You receive a good standing
with God; your goal is not to have a good standing in the church or in
society, but with God. Even if no one on earth sees what you do, God
You will also gain great confidence in this, that you will know that you
are saved because in your heart you are sacrificially serving God to
the best of your ability.
Fifty years from now our church will only be as mature and holy and
doctrinally sound as the generation of servants and leaders and members
who make up this local body. And the children who are under our care
right now, as a captive audience, as clean slates, can be nurtured and
guided into maturity that will benefit them, their families, their peer
groups, this church, and this community we reach.
And you, as a teacher, stand at the vortex of this responsibility. Let me close with Paul’s sobering and pensive question…
2 Cor 2:15-16 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are
being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from
death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is
sufficient for these things?
That’s a man who understood the level of significance his teaching ministry held.
[written by Clint Archer]