Over a year ago, I was called to serve as a Gospel Doctrine teacher for a ward in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is my second go-around in this calling as I taught this class for three years starting in 2006. After teaching Gospel Doctrine I went into Young Women and had the opportunity to usher in the era of the Come, Follow Me for youth. Once you teach using that format, you can’t really go back to the old style of gospel teaching. So when I started my second round of Gospel Doctrine, I taught using the new format. In January of this year, when the format for Sunday School changed to the Come, Follow Me lessons I was excited. Don’t tell anyone but this is probably my favorite calling. I love to teach. I love the scriptures. It’s a good combination for me. While I have no other expertise than my love of this calling to write this post I thought I’d share a few observations I have noticed about Sunday School. Keep in mind, this is only my opinion and since I really have nowhere else to share my thoughts, here we go.
Observation 1: people expect Sunday School to be boring. It’s kind of what it is known for. That is being a boring class with a teacher mixing personal opinion with doctrine. A lecture style class and if I’m not mistaken, no one likes being lectured to. I have spoken to very few people who say this hour is their favorite. It generally comes in third.
Observation 2: people want to keep it boring. They don’t really want engaging classes. They want to sit there for 50 minutes and be bored and not pay attention and go home without giving the class another thought. Sunday School is not supposed to be exciting. After all, we are discussing scriptures so how exciting can that be, really?
That may seem a bit of a cynical view and by no means am I declaring this is every person. But on a whole, as general, it seems to fit. Granted, it’s been less than a year since the Come, Follow Me lessons were introduced to the adults. I always figured that’s why the youth received the format first because adults have a difficult time adapting to change. We now have young adults that have received this format of teaching as youth helping the more seasoned members to adapt to the change. It is a wonderful process but slow.
Opinion 1: just because we can fit in one class doesn’t mean we should. It is true there are no other Sunday School classes occurring during the second hour of church but I don’t think that means there can’t be more than one Gospel Doctrine class. Our ward has two classes both teaching the same material. One is in the Relief Society room with the comfy seats. The other is in the smaller classroom next to it. As teachers we alternate classrooms for lessons. Some of the best discussions I’ve had this year have been with smaller groups. It also gives the class members a little variety to choose a larger classroom or smaller. Some people prefer to hide in a large group and remain quiet while others like the smaller class size.
Opinion 2: large class sizes negate the Come, Follow Me format. Gone are the days of lecture classes. This new format is designed to be more engaging and active. Not passive and idle. As a teacher, it is difficult to follow the format with large class sizes that are held in non-classroom locations (chapel and gym). I’m not an educator by career only by calling but I thought a chief complaint among school teachers is large class sizes.
Let me stress again that I am by no means an expert just an observer. It is a thrilling time to be part of the format change and I realize it will take time to fully realize the blessings of the new format. These are just a few of my thoughts as I have tried to implement and adapt to the change.