How to Teach a Sunday School Lesson


When putting together a Sunday School or Sermon there are many different books and classes with many having differing methods of how to best prepare. From many of my bible teachers and professors I too have seen many different methods, some I thought was good; some not so much. In this lesson I will provide my real world methods for outlining and presenting a message and some tips to make it more effective.


While we all want to say that our message was spirit lead, it is the reality of the lesson that we need to present the Word of God as a structural learning system.

1 Corinthians 14:40 Let all things be done decently and in order.

To create lessons based on the needs of learning or a path of knowledge is a perfectly good reason to prepare a lesson. Done within the Spirit the power will be there as the lesson is written and taught.

  1. Know your audience/students

Let’s face it… you shouldn’t teach the same things to all people. If you have a class for 3rd graders… don’t teach a 9th grade lesson. (and visa-versa) Prepare your lesson to fit the level of understanding for the group you are teaching.

  1. Know your material

I have sat in classes that teachers are just reading off the worksheet to satisfy the class. It makes it difficult to take seriously the message if the speaker isn’t knowledgeable, or interested in the topic they are teaching. With this mindset you should have prepared beyond that is presented. Dr. Gray used to say that you should have 3 times the material prepared than that which you present; simply put, be over prepared. Knowledge brings confidence.

  1. Know yourself

Every teacher has a style. In one of the current classes I am allowed to participate in we have 3 teachers. I jokingly tell the students that we have different perspectives to our teaching style to bring them a better level of learning. Brother Willis is History, Brother Short is Spiritual and I am Doctrinal in our approaches. By knowing your style and having a predictable presentation it will allow the student to absorb the material better. Furthermore, the more you teach the more you will be able to respond to circumstances. In todays audience you will have representatives from every level and every corner of society. As a result this may cause a distraction taking you off message.

  1. Know your time

Just about any lesson/sermon you will present will have a time limit structured to it. It is NOT limiting to the Holy Spirit to contain you within the time allowed. If you are presenting information, it will be very important to stay on task, in order to present God’s message; withing the time identified. Some topics can’t be completed within the allotted time, which is where the appropriate lesson structure will allow you to break it into the different weeks to complete the lesson. Rabbit trails, stories, examples, etc., will all be items that can be used by satan to take you off message and have the time end with an unclear message presented.

     5. Know your position

You are the teacher. As such you will not only need to present the information but control the class as well. In most youth classes (and some adult ones) you need to focus on keeping their attention and reducing the distraction that some students may present. This will also be part of the style of teaching. Whether it’s a jovial manner or direct discipline, this control will be important to make sure that satan does not get an advantage. Also please note… anger is a last resort of control. Anger provokes and creates more problems than it solves. No one wants to come to church to be yelled at, nor be in a room where people are getting yelled at. You can correct and keep the momentum of the class without loosing your temper. More often than not this display will create a greater distraction that just letting it go. Oftimes I will start the class by moving around students separating those I feel are going to create an issue. This also identifies a “who’s in control” position at the very beginning.  I additionally will call disrupters out in a manner that brings the focus temporarily on them… even making a statement like “we have 20 minutes left… can you give God just 20 minutes”… sometimes that works, but you will need to try multiple tactics to help control the flow of the class.


Structuring your lesson will allow you to easily present God’s message in a way that will allow your mind to focus on the message. Searching for verses, references or information can be very disconcerting; making the listener loose interest. Might I say that your audience does not care whether you are learning to teach? Their heart will not be full of forgiveness, which is where preparation and confidence in your material will allow you to comfortably present God’s message.

The Outline

A general outline is as follows:

Opening –

This is the overview of your material letting them know what they will learn, what to expect, and (depending on the age group) where you cover the basics like – sit up straight, pay attention and no talking.

Main point

A topic that you are presenting can generally be broken down in 2 main points and sub points that reinforce the point you are teaching on. Shorter messages might not have a second main point, but when you make a point or statement, you will need those sub points to prove, backup or identify the truth of the information. With that you should also identify a verse on each main point and sub point.

Main verse – a Bible verse that you are teaching on (explanatory) or identifies the topic from a scriptural resource.

Colossians 1:28  Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

  • Sub point or explanatory point

It is necessary to backup your statement or expound on it. Having an outline will help keep you on point and build on each point as you teach on a topic. It’s very easy to lose place and end up jumping to the end and make a statement that you have not built the listeners up to… leaving then confused.

Supporting verse

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

  • Sub point or explanatory point

Again you don’t need a bunch of sub points… but taking all your thoughts and “listing them” will help you keep the flow of information building to a conclusion.

Supporting Verse

Titus 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

Secondary Point

Keeping in mind that this is for a recommended format of teaching, you don’t need 30 points like if you were writing a term paper. Consider the points above and organize your thoughts and points into a format that can convey the message within the allotted time.

Supporting verse

Colossians 4:5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

  • Sub point or explanatory point

These additional sub points might be a list, examples or even more verses.

Supporting verse

Psalms 49:3 My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.

  • Sub point or explanatory point

Real world examples are a great way to bring home a point. This is a marvelous way to get a point across and is completely Biblical. God allowed the events of those who were in the Bible to allow us to see God through them. If we can do the same to our audience it brings relevance to your message.

Supporting Verse

James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.


While you want to have the freedom to express your lesson or sermon, it is important to structure your thoughts and points to make sure you audience can absorb what you are sharing. I once had a professor say that “the mind can only secure, what the behind can endure…”


Everyone has a way that God can use to present a message. Some might be “just the facts”, others might be very expressive; I personally have been known for my attempt to place people in the message “to experience the Scriptures.”

Here are a few points to help anyone in a general presentation:

  1. Write it ALL down.

Trust me… you will sit there the night before and something come to mind that is so tremendous, you KNOW you will remember it the next day; then you forget it. Take the time to write it down and add it in the structure of your lesson.

  1. Make it REALLY LARGE.

This has helped me from just a few months after starting to preach that when addressing an audience and looking away from your material, it is SO EASY to lose your place. I accomplish this by using a tablet or laptop.

  1. Run through it in your mind.

Early on in my ministry I would preach my entire message in my imagination and time it. After preaching for a few years I didn’t need to do that as much as I built confidence however, it was a valuable exercise.

  1. Never apologize.

You might be ask to present a message to people who are older or more knowledgeable than you, it can be very intimidating. I was to give a series once as a guest speaker at a Chaplains conference, and I mentioned this intimidation to the man who setup the event… he smirked with puzzled look and said, “we didn’t invite you to speak, we invited God to speak through you…” LIGHT BULB MOMENT. I realized that, at our best we are merely vessels that God uses to give His word to others. The steps above have helped me get out of the way so that God’s message can be delivered better.