Teaching: Constructing a Lesson Outline

Starting off with a good lesson outline is essential to teaching well.


If you use Teen Sunday School Place lessons for very long, you’ll pick up on an outline style that is fairly straightforward but strategic. Whether you use our lessons or write your own, a good outline is a must for effective teaching.

An “Introduction” that captures the attention of the audience is a must. Some call this the “hook.” We use activities (through “Group Building”) and conversation (through “Getting Started”) to rev up the energy, attitudes, and environment of the room. This gets kids interested, talking, and sometimes moving—all key components to getting an audience to buy into what you’re about to teach. Use a game, object lesson, conversation starter, or piece of media to pique their interest.

The primary goal of any lesson is to instruct. We call this section “Digging Deep.” Some will call this the “book” section—the part of the time when you are doing straight up Bible study. This can still be illustrated creatively with visuals or conversation, but it’s a knowledge acquisition piece that is important. Before you can apply knowledge you have to obtain it. That’s what digging into the lesson material is all about.

The third main section of our lessons is called “Making it Real.” This is where students are challenged to apply the truth they’ve learned in their own lives. We often make this very conversation oriented, as students often struggle to grasp the exact application on their own mentally. Often the group discussion brings about fresh ideas, brainstorming, and creativity in putting a truth into action.

Of course prayer is an important component, too. We close our lesson outlines with prayer. This can be in the form of a prayer of dedication to the mission just discovered, a pastoral prayer where you really lift up your students, or individual pray where kids can wrestle with a truth they’ve just learned.

Also keep in mind that students learn in different ways. Some are auditory learners. Others are very visual in their style. Some are kinesthetic learners and love doing things. Watch your kids—they all learn differently. Try to allow each some freedom to learn within their style.

I recently had a student keep a sketch pad with him during our large-group lesson time. He was very fidgety and found it hard to pay attention. When I allowed him this side task he was able to repeat what I’d said from stage and was much more behaved. Implement special strategies where you must.

And remember that students of different ages learn differently too. A sixth grader may still be a pretty concrete thinker. A senior in high school thinks more abstractly. If you study the miraculous rescue of Peter from prison, a junior high student might only recall that it was pretty neat how he was saved. A senior might be very moved by God’s power and trust in Christ to save him or her as well. If you have both ages in one class, key in on this difference—it will save you a lot of frustration.

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