The Role of the Sunday School Teacher

A question that people like to ask me is, “Why are you in children’s ministry?” Besides loving the kids and enjoy teaching the children Bible stories, I believe that this is one of the best places to disciple and prepare them for eternity.


Recognizing the Role of the Sunday School Teacher

Teaching in Sunday school is one of the greatest opportunities in the world to serve God because it is a life-changing process.  But with that opportunity come responsibility. Teaching Sunday school is different from most teaching.  It involves a spiritual curriculum, the Bible; it involves the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20); it involves a life that is transforming, a supernatural unction, God’s calling and the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, the role of a Sunday school teacher is not just an instructor but also the responsibility for the spiritual welfare of his students.  It has a much broader task than just communicating biblical truth.


Three Main Roles of a Sunday School Teacher

Ephesians 4:11 says, “It was He who gave some to be pastors and teachers.”  Even though the KJV and NIV separated the two words, “pastor” and “teacher,” the Greek language joins them as one function.  The pastor is a teacher.  Just as a pastor shepherds his flock in more ways than preaching, so a Sunday school teacher cares for the students in more ways than teaching.  Everything the pastor is to his flock, the teacher is to his/her Sunday school class.  The same Greek word used for pastor and shepherd suggests their work is similar.[1]  Classes need to be more than content centers, they need to be shepherding centers.

The challenge given by Paul to the Ephesian elders in the book of Acts 20:28-29 is also a challenge to Sunday school teachers today.  Paul said “keep watch over yourselves and to all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.  I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock”.  In this passage we can find the three main roles of Sunday school teachers.[2]


1.  To Oversee the Flock by Leading

           a. Leading Them by Example and Love

The greatest influence of many Sunday school teachers has been the result of their leading by example.  We lead and teach some by what we say, some by what we do and most by who we are.  Leading and teaching involves loving our students and building strong relationships with them.  Love is the greatest glue for relationships. “Beloved if God so love us, we ought also to love one another, if we love one another God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.” (I John 4:7, 11-12) A teacher can never really love his students without first experiencing the love of God in his own life through Christ.  Upon receiving Christ as Saviour, the teacher has the potential to grow in Christ’s love.  This growth is tied into one’s desire to know God and the only way we can accurately know the Lord is through His Word and the fellowship of prayer.  We want our students to love Jesus most of all but we must remember that we are His representatives and models.

     b.  Leading Them by Motivation

In leading students to be Christ-like, a teacher need to motivate each student to explore God’s Word and apply the truths discovered there by sharing[3] his or her own enthusiasm for what is being studied and giving positive encouragement for growth. A teacher plans ways to make learning exciting and fun.

2To Feed the Flock by Meeting Their Needs

In order to feed the flock, we must know the needs of our students.  Knowing our student as well as our subject/topic will help us to be effective.  Intercessory prayer for each student reminds us of his/her needs and makes him/her more precious to us.  We can have a student profile with a picture; name and information of each student in one file for our class and pray for them each day.

A teacher is like a mountain climbing guide.  All the climbers have the same goal to reach the mountain peak.  The guide plans the journey by relying on the power of the Holy Spirit and finds the best routes for climbing.  Some members of the group may climb well and some a bit slower than others.  A Sunday school teacher guides the class in the same way.  He/she selects and aims for the class something that every member can know, feel or do by the end of the session.

3. To Protect the Flock by Watching and Helping Them to Grow

The most effective teachers are those who show interest and concern in their students’ lives.  A big part of this involves being open and honest about growth and struggles in our own lives.  It is not just instructing them but listening actively to understand what they really meant when they shared with us their days and stories. Sunday school teachers who yearn to accelerate the effectiveness of their teaching of God’s Word will seek parental cooperation because our task is not only to teach the children in a class but also to encourage parents in raising up their children in the ways of the Lord.  May the Lord help us in teaching our children to be followers after Jesus Christ.  Amen.

[1] Elmer Towns, 154 steps to revitalize your Sunday school and keep your church grow, pp.20-22

[2] Terry Hall, How to be the best Sunday school teacher you can be, p.2.

   Lowell E. Brown, Sunday school standards, p.22.

[3] Lowell E. Brown, How to have a great Sunday school


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