|Elmer Towns has given us an impressive collection of the basics of Sunday School teaching. This should not surprise us since he is called Mr. Sunday School. I attended a conference several years ago where Dr. Towns taught about teaching Sunday School. Much of the material from his session is in this small book. The reader will be pleased to discover that he gives pointers for teaching children, youth and adults - all levels of teaching are addressed in this book. |
The Foreword of the book states Dr. Towns' qualifications for writing this book. He teaches a 2,000 member Sunday School class. He has taught adult, youth, and children's Sunday School classes in the past. He has taught in Sunday School conferences in each of the 50 United States. The man is sold on Sunday School.
Towns' begins his book addressing readers who do not feel they can teach Sunday School. He is convinced that most anyone can take an active role in the Sunday School ministry of the church. From there he looks at the teaching task itself. From lesson prep to relational evangelism, he covers all aspects of teaching (The chapters on Effective Discussion, Effective Lecture, & Effective Story are very good). He includes chapters on creating an inviting atmosphere for your class, understanding your learners, reviewing previous lessons, accountability, Scripture memorization, and lesson application. He gives the reader pointers for teaching children, youth, and adults.
Purpose! He focuses on the four-fold purpose of Sunday School - Reaching, teaching, winning, caring. He stresses the importance of mastering the basics and then applying the basics to one's teaching in a balanced way. He also stresses the importance of prayer in the life of the teacher.
One of the things that impressed me the most with Towns' book is that he does not focus on himself, or his own Sunday School teaching experience. Rather than speaking of himself, he refers the reader to the people from whom he learned (and applied) the skills necessary to be a strong Sunday School teacher/leader. He identifies success in others and how it applies to us. I was very impressed that Mr. Sunday School gave me his sources rather than himself. Does the word "humility" come to mind?
Two things surprised me in this book. The first is a negative; the second is a positive. First, Towns' mentions that there are a variety of learning styles, but he never expounds on them. That would fall more into the category of learning than teaching. However, it would have been nice to have a summary of this data. The second is that Towns' gives us a section on classroom discipline. This is better understood as classroom management, or classroom control, and is more often an issue with children and youth classes. Still, I was surprised that he covered the topic in this book.
Some readers may be put off by occasional advertisements for Gospel Light products. This did not bother me in the least. I can only recall two instances of this. Both were qualified - If you are not currently using an alternative product with similar features. It is almost inconsequential, but I thought I would mention it anyway.
In the final analysis, this is a very good, albeit brief, book on teaching Sunday School. It irks me fiercely to read someone say, "If you apply this book to your Sunday School class, you will grow beyond your wildest dreams." So, I won't say that. However, I must say that the application of Towns' instruction will probably help you to learn and grow as a teacher and the extent to which you learn and grow; your class should learn and grow too. I will probably get a copy of this book for all my Sunday School teachers. I think you will enjoy this book as well.