Making Lessons Fun

(Sir Richard Branson, Billionaire owner of Virgin Airlines, among other things, poses with a sleeping airline employee)

When I see a funny picture like this online, I don’t stop at just thinking, “that’s a funny picture.” I think, I need to save that and use it in a lesson some day. For an image like this, I might print it out or save it on my phone to show on the TV screen during a lesson. I might use it to point out sometimes we miss great things God wants to do through us because we’re sleeping (or doing anything else that distracts us) instead of paying attention to what he’s doing right in front of us. Illustrations like this make lessons fun, helps students pay attention, and hopefully helps students remember to live out how they get challenged in Life Group.

Long View Of Life – Finances

This is a video I’ll show to my students because I want to prepare them for success not only in having a thriving relationship with God, but also to have a long view of life; this includes how they use money. If they can learn to use their money well, they will be free to serve others for God and also be able to be financially generous for building the Kingdom of God. I don’t want them hampered by a pile of debt.

The Power of Ice Cream

I’ve been a high school small group leader for the past eight years and I’m always amazed by the power of a few pints of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. There are always those weeks during the year when you run out of energy, time, or the capacity to plan for your weekly lesson. I think we can all admit to being there at some point or another.

On those nights I’ve adopted the rule that instead of faking it to make it, I surprise my group with intentional fellowship. I’ve usually seen something on Instagram or Twitter in the past week or so that’s made me cringe so I try to rope that topic into the night in some form or another. But take note, it’s all done with Ben & Jerry’s being at the center of the table with multiple spoons in each pint.

These nights have ended up to be some of the best. The vulnerability that comes out as we sit eating our favorite flavors in sweatpants, is amazing. I’ve had girls open up about secret relationships, addictions and even frustrations and hatred aimed at people around the table. Most of these nights I sit back and let the students pastor each other and that’s what I love most!

It cost a few extra bucks but it’s totally worth it. You’ll laugh, make some new memories, and break ground on the real stuff happening in the lives of your students. So bust out the ice cream and see where the Lord guides the night!

Our Lives Trump Stats

Last week I saw a post on Facebook that jarred me pretty good. A friend of mine posted a photo of a bald tire with a caption about his dad. The caption read something like, “5 years ago today my dad was killed in a car wreck on a rainy day. The collision was caused by the other car having bald tires. Please look at your tires. If they’re balding, please get them replaced.”

I never wanted to rush out and get new tires so much. I didn’t even need new tires.

If he said instead, “According to the National Transportation Safety Board’s 2014 report of highway fatality statistics, 1 in every 125 highway accidents was caused by balding tires. Of those 125 accidents, 23 caused at least 1 death”, that would not have nearly as much impact on me. (I made up those statistics in this paragraph – just making a point)

This illustrates perfectly that our stories, shared with a caring heart, trump outside data. When we teach out of our own pain or experience, our lessons become memorable. When our students feel the emotion attached to our illustrations (humor, fear, anticipation, sadness, etc.), they will be more even more likely to remember the illustration. This prolongs the impact of the lessons we teach.

Lesson Helper: Help It Stick

Tonight’s lesson for Life Group is pretty simple. The curriculum wants students to discuss the importance of serving using a couple of examples in scripture that show Jesus serving.

I could teach this lesson with both hands tied behind my back… but that would be silly and odd.

I have 2 goals with tonight’s lesson:

1. I want the lesson to stick with them long after the night is over
2. I want students to actively engage with the lesson

I will meet both goal with one simple idea: I will pass my teaching notes out and have them take turns reading the verses and asking the questions. This is such a simple idea that many teachers would never consider because it makes them useless. I disagree. It shows they are wisely training students to be leaders while helping them catch the points of the lesson and making sure they are invested in the success of the group.

I rarely do this, but it’s one of many teaching styles I use to engage my students in learning God’s word and putting it into practice.