Sooner or later, as a member of this church, you are going to have a teaching calling. And if you live long enough, several.
You will attend inservice meetings, teaching seminars, teaching expos and maybe even teaching retreats where someone teaches the teachers how to teach. You will come home with stacks of ideas for addressing components of teaching you didn’t even know existed:
You will desperately want to invite the spirit, convey enthusiasm for the topic, and involve every class member.
You will want to challenge your listeners to really improve their lives, come closer to Christ, and build their testimonies.
You will want to ask plenty of questions, so class members can participate.
You will want to know how to field difficult comments.
You will want to stick to the scriptures and the lesson manual.
You will want to offer just enough material to challenge and intrigue the class members, yet not so much that you overwhelm them.
You will want to teach them how to apply the scriptures to their daily lives.
You will want to use notes, but not read lengthy passages.
You will want to make eye contact and smile.
You will want to offer fresh information that hasn’t already been said before.
You will want to be sensitive to those in the class for whom this subject is a touchy one.
You will want to crawl under your bed and hide.
Teaching is a scary task, one most of us approach with feelings of inadequacy compounded with a fear of public speaking. And, like most things, it does get easier with practice. But with any luck you will cut your teeth on Primary kids who are incredibly loving and forgiving (traits that oddly evaporate from certain critical people in the adult classes). With even more luck, you will not be called to teach sassy adolescents who’ve left their last few teachers in tears.
And, finally, you will teach your peers who, believe it or not, are rooting for you to succeed. Most people come to church with an attitude of supporting one another, especially those new to a calling. They’ll happily raise their hands to answer your questions, so you don’t stand too long in stony silence at the front of the room. They’ll think of examples when you ask for examples. They’ll tell you what a fine job you did afterwards. You really are in friendly waters, even if you feel those waters rising up to your eyeballs.
So yes, listen and take notes at all those teacher-training meetings. But if you really want to boil down the direct route to teaching a powerful lesson, discard the fluff and focus on one thing: Bringing the Spirit. If you can create an environment where the Spirit is there in abundance, your class members will learn and feel almost startled by the strength of your lesson. They may get answers to their prayers that aren’t even on your topic. They will drink from a well so delicious, they will want to stay active and return often to that well. You can invite the Spirit with music, overall reverence in the room, simple sincerity, or heartfelt sharing. When you look into faces you truly love, the Spirit will be there. Forget about yourself and your “performance.” It isn’t about you. It’s about getting the air to buzz with the Spirit. It has nothing to do with props, posters, handouts, candy, or games, your hair, makeup, or outfit. Worrying about the extraneous stuff can actually clutter the atmosphere and block the Spirit.
So pray as you prepare, rid your own life of Spirit blockers (envy, sin, pride, selfishness, competing, etc.) and make yourself a true instrument in the Lord’s hands. Be humble, love the people, then give them the material you’ve prepared. Bear sincere testimony of it . This is what we tell missionaries, too-hmm, must be something to it, eh?
And guess what? It even works on sassy teenagers.