Preparing for a session is one of the most important aspects of a teacher’s ministry. In this post, a suggested rhythm of preparing throughout the week is offered to teachers to help them maximize their time with kids each week.
We all know the stereotype: the teacher who opens up the leader guide on Saturday evening to begin preparing. While there may be times when a crazy week’s schedule requires this, preparing at the last minute should be the exception, not the norm. It’s a matter of value—we need to value our kids, the Word of God, and the gospel enough to do this right, and putting off preparations surely is not doing it that way.
If putting off preparing until the last minute is the worst approach (well, not preparing at all would take that crown), the best approach is to sit in the session plan all week long, at least for 10-15 minutes each day. Here is one suggested schedule to do that:
MONDAY: Read the Bible passage. That’s right, don’t even crack open the leader guide yet, except to know what Bible passage is covered for the week. Grab your favorite Bible and read the Scriptures themselves. Be sure to read the background passage, not just the focal passage. Focal passages are chosen, in part, for space. So you will want to read as much around that focal passage to know the context. Reading the Bible passage first thing in the week gives you room throughout the week to sit in what you are teaching. You give the Holy Spirit time to work in your mind and heart so He might solidify the beauty of the gospel you will later share.
TUESDAY: Read the leader guide. Now it’s time to read the leader guide. Take your time through the session, being sure to focus on the “why” of the session. Why does this session matter? What is its big take-away? Be sure you understand how you get to it from the Bible passage itself. Once you feel good about that, drill down on the specific activities, games, crafts, etc. to understand how they work and how they support the session’s content.
WEDNESDAY: Use the additional leader resources. Most curricula provide additional teaching tips and resources to help leaders prepare. Use these to either deepen what you already know or, perhaps, to broaden your focus for that session.
THURSDAY: Read additional Bible translations and commentaries. By this time, you should have a good grasp of what you are covering this week and how best to cover it. So it’s time to put the curriculum resources aside again. Read at least the focal passage in a few different translations (the Internet and Bible apps make this so easy these days). When I study, I like to use the CSB, ESV, NASB, and at least one paraphrase that is more thought-for-thought like the NIV. This is also a great time to read through some commentaries on the passage, especially if anything is not quite clear to you. Even if you are studying an aspect that you are pretty sure you will not cover with your kids, it is important you dig into it so that you have the confidence you need—and you never know where the Holy Spirit might guide the conversation with your kids.
FRIDAY: Collect supplies. It’s time to get practical and collect the supplies that you will need for the session. As you do, review the activity, game, or craft that the supplies are for to be sure you understand it and how those supplies will work.
SATURDAY: Review and connect. Spend some time reviewing the session, focusing on any rougher spots that you are not as comfortable with. Try to touch base with your kids and/or their families to share that you are looking forward to seeing them the next day.
SUNDAY: Rely on God. Be sure to get a good night’s rest and wake up with plenty of time for your morning routine. As you go through your morning ritual, pray for your session and each kid by name. Arrive on time, ready to greet your kids and their families and then enjoy watching God use your time of preparation for His glory.
Brian Dembowczyk served in the local church ministry for over 16 years. Brian earned an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his family live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.