How to teach a great lesson every week

The secret to a great Sunday School lesson every week is preparation…there is no way around it.   I heard an illustration about this related to boxing.  The quote went like this, “What you cheat on in secret will soon be evident to all underneath the bright lights of the ring.”  So go ahead and cut corners as you prepare, but your lack of preparation will soon be exposed!

I grew up in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex, and I have been a Dallas Cowboys fan for all my life, especially a fan of legendary coach Tom Landry.  Coach Landry once said, “The will to practice has to be greater than the will to win.”  He knew that his team’s success was going to be determined during the days leading up to Sunday’s game, and it’s no different for Sunday School teachers.  The will to prepare has to be greater than the will to “win” in class…take the time to prepare and you’ll be assured of a victory in the classroom.  Alan Taylor (Minister of Education at FBC Woodstock, GA) has said, “Teachers have not put the hay in the barn during the week, so the loft is empty on Sunday morning” (The Six Core Values of Sunday School). Here are some things you can do to teach a great lesson every week:

Be Wise – develop a repeatable weekly schedule

  • Make your calendar work for you, not against you
  • Develop a regular way of preparing to teach your lesson each week


  • Look at your Leader Guide to see the lesson title, passage, outline, etc. (you’re using a planned-out curriculum, right??!!)
  • Read the lesson passage thoroughly, at least two to three times (just to familiarize yourself with the direction of the lesson)
  • Pray for God to speak to you through His Word as you prepare the lesson this week
  • Pray for your class members and their spiritual growth


  • Read the lesson passage 2-3 times again in different translations ( HCSB, NIV, NASB, NJKV, KJV, NLT)
  • Jot down any themes you see in your study time
  • Pray for your own spiritual transformation
  • Pray for the needs of your class members


  • Read the passage in the translation you will teach from
  • Identify & list key words, concepts, Bible characters & locations
  • Consult commentaries, atlases, Bible dictionaries, and other resources
  • Pray for you and your class


Read the lesson passage and ask the key application questions.  Is there a:

  • Attitude to adjust?
  • Promise to claim?
  • Priority to change?
  • Lesson to learn?
  • Issue to resolve?
  • Command to obey?
  • Activity to avoid or stop?
  • Truth to believe?
  • Idol to tear down?
  • Offense to forgive?
  • New direction to take?
  • Sin to confess?
  • Example to follow?

Adapted from Rick Warren’s Personal Bible Study Methods


  • Read the lesson passage
  • Pray for you & your class members
  • Review teaching resources (Leader Guide, commentary, resource kit) necessary for lesson prep
  • Think about learning styles and teaching methods you haven’t used in a while and commit to build some of those unused methods into your lesson
  • Finalize the principles/lesson outline you will teach


  • Read the lesson passage one more time
  • Finalize your lesson plan and write it out
  • Make sure your lesson plan includes 3 essential elements:
  1. Motivation (the “hook”) – capture learner’s interest in the lesson with an object lesson, illustration, video clip, etc
  2. Examination (the “look”) – spend time exploring God’s Word…help learners interact with the text…and don’t lecture all the time! Active learning is effective learning.
  3. Application (the “took”) – don’t just study the Bible, apply it!  What will your learners take away from the lesson as a way to apply it in their lives?


  • Pray for yourself and your class members
  • Review your lesson plan (but don’t make major changes…just review it to make sure you know where you’re going)
  • Go to bed on time


  • Get up on time
  • Pray & ask God to use you today to deliver His message to your students
  • Arrive at church at least 30 minutes prior to the start of class
  • Set up your room and set out your teaching supplies
  • Pray, and greet early arrivers
  • Start the class on time
  • End the class on time
  • Evaluate what went well and what didn’t…evaluated experiences can help you make powerful changes for next week’s lesson

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