HOW TO MAKE A SUNDAY SCHOOL SYLLABUS
Sunday schools should follow a good Curriculum and Syllabus while preparing to teach the students rather than telling random stories every week. To make a good Syllabus, a good outline is essential that will build the students in spiritual formation and Christian foundation. To make a good content, topics and Bible Stories should be relevant picked up. Keep the following things in mind while sitting to make the outline of the Syllabus.
- Basic Commitment to Christ
First part of lessons should present the message of Salvation that leads a person to make commitment to Christ. The student should receive Jesus in his/her life in the first place. The story, its lesson and application should communicate and call for the basic Salvation.
What is Gospel? What is Salvation? It is the good news about Jesus and of his love that offers eternal life. Every human being should hear about it, decide and make an sure commitment to Christ, by opening the heart and receive him. Thus a personal relationship with Christ should be initiated.
- A set of 3 -5 Bible stories/lessons that talks about God’s love, man’s sin, the Blood of Jesus Christ and faith response could be chosen and taught on the first few weeks.
- Without leading a person/child to such experience of making commitment to Christ, what is the use of teaching any more spiritual lessons right? It would be like trying to grow an unborn baby.
- Growing in Christ.
After an initial experience of Commitment to Jesus, the student should be taught to grow in relationship with God, primarily by learning and following God’s Word.
- A Christian growth should be based upon Bible teaching and Biblical way of life.
- For this Biblical themes like– Inner spiritual life, Discipleship, godly family, Kingdom of God and its values and principles, belonging to a Church, stewardship, leadership, spiritual attitudes, Christian doctrines, Witnessing in the Community etc.
- Biblical and Theological Foundation
- While writing lessons for teaching spiritual and practical life, the theology of the Bible should not be compromised.
- To root the growing minds in sound Biblical and theological foundation, teaching the story of the Bible in a Chronological order is important, rather than choosing random themes and stories.
- Maturing Faith
- As children grow in age, the understanding of life also grows and changes over time. Their world view and spiritual insights also upgrades along their life journey. The previous knowledge exhausts and a quest for newer understanding arises in a gap of 2 to 3 years.
- Their inner biological and psychological changes and drives also call for attention.
- To support their changes and keep the meaning and values of Scriptures alive and active in them, new and relevant insights from old stories of the Bible becomes very important.
- As the students move from childhood to adulthood, they need to be upgraded constantly, even the basic themes of the Bible, beginning from God and basic faith in Christ. The theme chosen may repeat, but the content should be relevant to their thought patterns emerging from their new levels of growth.
- In the early years, children are taught in one way direction as they listened and implicitly obeyed to whatever taught. But as they grew, they would question, scrutinize, conclude and decide on the matters and truths that are taught. A good syllabus should keep these things in mind.
- The Limitations
The making of a syllabus requires a knowledge and idea of target audience who are catered to.
- Therefore, syllabus making involves the knowledge of one’s own local set of students, their mindset, level of understanding, culture and social patterns. If a ready-made syllabus can serve or fail to serve the students. Therefore, the syllabus should be tested for its fit to the local group, and need be should, locally produced.
- Another limitation is about the number of Sundays in a year. All the 52 weeks in a year are not going to be used for Sunday School gathering.
- Maximum 25 – 30 sessions only effectively conducted in a year. The rest of the weeks will go in holidays, special Sundays and festival holidays, school exams, summer vacations etc.
- Added to it, the absentees would miss the classes regularly or occasionally resulting in inconsistency in learning.
- Another concern is about mixed crowd audience such as new converts, new comers etc. Some students join the Sunday school very late in their growing years, having missed out to learn the basics of Bible. But they have to sit with others in regular classes.
- How to address these problems while making a Sunday School syllabus :
- Make the syllabus with only 25 classes in a year.
- Include Special days of Sunday class such as – Missionary week, Day of Prayer, Days of practice, Day of Games, Picnic etc. Your lesson can focus on that concern on that day.
- Have a separate department meant for taking the new comers. They can be put in those classes for at least 3-5 classes and taught on basic experience of Salvation. Later they can merge with regular classes.
- While fixing a new over-all theme for the year for the Sunday School, the regular classes can follow a regular pattern of theme only – as a way to teach the basic Christian teachings year after year.
- Selecting Bible Stories :
While selecting the Bible stories for the year’s syllabus keeping all that said above could be followed. For eg..,
- GOSPEL AND SALVATION
Choose stories in this order to teach the message of Salvation first (for max 6 weeks) :
- God’s love
- Offer of Eternal life
- Sin that separates
- Spotless blood of Jesus that cures
- Forgiveness of sins
- Receiving Jesus and a New life
- The Thematic Order
Then move on to different themes, each having 3-5 stories viz.,
- New Life
- Power of God
- Family Life
- Inter-personal relationship
After making one year syllabus in this order, again next year the same themes could be used but different stories put inside it. Even the new set of stories should be a continuous series given in the Chronological order.
- Chronological Order.
As we discussed, it is very important to teach the Bible story systematically and serially in the historical order. To do this first of all one should have a thorough idea of the story of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. The stories of entire Bible could be thus covered in one year or two to three years. The general historical/Chronological order of the Bible history is given here :
- Creation and Fall
- Moses and Egypt
- Conquest of Promised Land
- Divided kingdom – Israel and Judah
- Return from Exile
- Second Temple
- Dark Ages
- Birth of Jesus
- Growth of Jesus
- Preparation for ministry
- Ministry of Jesus
- Miracles of Jesus
- Teachings of Jesus
- Disciples of Jesus
- Kingdom of God
- Final week of Jesus
- Passion, death and resurrection
- Church born
- Missionary Journeys
- Last days