Sunday School was a part of my teen life for forever. I wasn’t committed because of the ugly room we met in, the bad snacks or the hard chairs; I was committed because I thought that is what I was supposed to do, so I did it. Classrooms have, generally, gotten better but the structure of a class has not changed that much. You have 45 minutes to teach a “valuable” lesson, what do you do?
Some youth workers get frustrated that they only will teach about 15 minutes of a 45 minute class; I say 15 minutes is just about right. You many ask, “What am I supposed to do with the other 30 minutes?”. It’s a fair question, but “filling the time” is not the answer.
I am using Sunday School as the prototype but Sunday School is just a small group, on average, of anywhere between 3-7 students. You can apply this advice to any small group on any day or night of the week. This advice should be adapted based on your audience. Do have a group of all new kids? Do you have a group made up of predominately believers or students new to the faith? Adapt as needed.
I’ve already stated that you will, more than likely, after interruptions, late kids, etc, teach for about 15 minutes. The 15 minutes are important because if you try to jam 30 minutes of teaching into 15 minutes, no one is going to benefit from that, certainly not the students. If you go into the class knowing that you will have a productive 15 minutes you can plan the other 30 minutes to achieve some other goal(s) or offer a different dynamic other than straight teaching for 45 minutes.
Here are some of my suggestions for using the other 30 minutes.
Take some time to help out kids church or plan next weeks youth service.
Work on a project like a banner for the youth room or design a t-shirt for camp.
Use some of this time for extended pray for fellow students or people in the church or experiments with new ways of praying.
Set up an affirmation exercise or write notes to affirm and encourage others.
Forty-five minutes is a gift, not a burden. You have this time to do whatever you want, just don’t waste it.
If you’re looking for small group resources, check out these resources