I have a confession to make. When our Bible classes at Church let out, I am starving. We have our classes after worship and when classes finish, I am ready for lunch. Countless delays gathering everyone and everything that needs to leave the building means we are often racing to get food in me before I get really cranky! Once the food gets on the table, what happened in Bible class is often forgotten amidst stories of the funny or interesting things that happened at Church.
As parents, we often miss out on using one of our biggest allies in raising our children to be faithful Christians – our child’s Bible class teachers. We rarely know what Bible story was taught in class and if we do, we may have no idea what applications were made to the story. In larger congregations, we may barely know the name of our child’s teacher, much less anything about him.
For parents and teachers to partner in grounding the Faith of our children, we need to ask each other some important questions. Not to attack, but to discover how to work together in the most effective way for each precious soul in that classroom. If we are going to have a “next” generation in the Church, we are going to have to make reaching children and teens a priority. There will be no “one fits all” method that will turn things around. Parents and teachers will have to formulate a Faith plan for every child that meets that child’s particular needs.
So what questions should you ask your child’s Sunday School teacher? There are plenty I am sure, but here are some ideas to get you started. Please do whatever you can to make this a non-threatening exchange. Remember these people are Christian volunteers who are sacrificing their time (and often their money) to help you raise your child. This is not an enemy combatant you are grilling for information!
1. What’s was today’s scripture or Bible story and what were the main biblical principles and applications covered? It is important for you to be able to reinforce at home the lessons taught in class. Your children need to understand biblical truths are eternal. What they are taught at Church is also what is taught and lived out at home. It is also important for you to make sure the material being taught is biblical and deep enough for the children to learn at least one new spiritual concept each week. Christians tend to be a trusting group of people and there are a lot of good things about that. On the other hand, it often means we are trusting a person we may not even know to teach eternal truths to our child. I would imagine most Sunday School teachers are doing a wonderful job of it, but there are some of the sweetest Christians I have ever known who have had some of the most erroneous theology I have ever encountered. Most churches do not observe teachers to hear what they are teaching. The assumption is made the teacher will follow the book, but many do not or go off on tangents. Unless you ask, you may never find out if your child has a teacher at some point who has taught her some major error. There is no way for you to correct an error you never know was made.
2. What is the one most important lesson you hope my child will learn in your class? Many teachers will have a ready answer. Some answers may even be rather lengthy. If your child’s teacher, doesn’t have an answer, it may help him think about the focus and purpose of his teaching. There is no one right answer. Hopefully, over a period of time your child will encounter teachers who are passionate about developing a personal relationship with God, sharing their faith, serving others, worshipping God and a host of other foundational biblical principles. Combined with what you are doing at home, these passions will help mold your child’s Faith walk for years to come.
3. How can I help you with your class? Sunday School teachers are volunteers. Many have great ideas they can’t implement because they don’t think they have the resources. Knowing they have a parent who will help chaperone a field trip or gather some special materials for a service project, gives the teacher the resources to make your child’s class even better. Public school teachers are not shy about sending home a twenty item list of everything extra they want for their class including several hours of your volunteer time a week. We should give our Bible class teachers the same support. After all, their lessons can impact our child’s eternity!
4. Is there anything you need to know about my child that can help you? A teacher can be more effective if she understands your child will jump into an activity once she has observed it for a few minutes or that your son has a gluten allergy. Don’t hesitate to tell your child’s Bible class teacher the same things you would your child’s school teacher. Many Bible class teachers were also trained as school teachers or have years of experience in volunteer teaching. They can use the information about your child’s needs to create a better class experience for her. If the teacher seems to be confused about what to do with the information you supply, you may want to share with him what your child’s school teacher has adapted for your child to help improve his learning experience.
5. What are you observing about my child that we can also work on at home? I’ll admit, for most parents this is a scary question! Do we really want to know our child talks constantly while the teacher is talking? Do we want to know our child doesn’t remember any of the stories in the Bible? Your child’s teacher is not trying to critique your job of parenting. He is merely trying to help your child and the rest of the children in his class get the most they possibly can out of their time together. Most teachers will hesitate before answering this question. They don’t want to make you angry and risk your child not coming to Bible class. Let your child’s teacher know you really want to partner with her and need to know what you can do at home to partner with her at Church. Your child’s teacher may hold the answer to a question you have about your child. He may have picked up on danger signs you have missed. Often the teen teacher or youth minister is the first to notice signs of drug or alcohol use. Older children in particular will sometimes open up to adults outside of their home more than they will their parents. Who knows, you may even be pleasantly surprised to discover the child who won’t pick up his room is actually the leader of his Bible class!
6. Can we develop a Faith plan for my child? Many schools offer an individualized educational plan for each child. All parties involved with the child know what the child has mastered and what they still need to teach him. It helps keep all of the teachers, professionals and parents working together towards the same goals. Our churches probably don’t have the resources to implement something similar and it could be open to misuse. I do think on an individual basis it is wise for you to ask your child’s Bible School teacher for help reinforcing or teaching your child specific biblical principles. Perhaps you want the teacher to help you with your child’s tendency to lie or maybe your child has been asking about baptism. Your child’s teacher can often help you by either incorporating the concept into what they do in class or by spending extra time with your child outside of class.
7. Can I thank you for your help with raising my child to be a godly adult? Notes, especially from your child, can boost the spirits of a teacher who is feeling overwhelmed or ineffective. Training your child to say thank you at the end of every class teaches your child to respect their teachers and gives the teacher the affirmation that at least your child realized they were in her class! Want to really increase your partnership with your child’s Bible class teacher? Have him over for dinner. Invite her to go out to eat with your family after class. Invite him to attend your child’s special event. Building a deeper relationship with your child’s Bible class teachers will strengthen the effectiveness of your partnership.
What other important questions have you asked your child’s Bible class teacher? How did asking the question improve your child’s faith development? I would love for you to share your thoughts in a comment below.