How to Plan Adult Sunday School Lessons

Country church image by CSimmins from

Adult Sunday school classes can be warm and intimate, but treacherous to lead. Whereas children have little basis to argue back, adults are usually educated and experienced. This requires a teacher to do more preparation and be more open to their input. A well-prepared Sunday school lesson will defuse hurtful or distracting bickering by providing further resources for discussion and investigation, rather than presenting one opinion as the final interpretation. Religious adults are often more interested in moral or practical lessons than doctrinal points, so be ready to focus class participation around their everyday lives.

Review the book chapter, scripture passage, or course unit your class will be learning. Take notes to help you remember significant information from the material. Use major points in the plot or changes in the topic of the reading to help you decide what is important.

Investigate concepts or claims you expect the class to find difficult or interesting, like "God's will" and "practicing faith." Anticipate factual questions you will be asked and prepare answers. Public, college and seminary libraries often have reference assistance that can help you find relevant commentaries and introductory theological works.

List important ideas that you want your class to remember. Order these ideas from easiest to understand to most complicated. Boldface or underline the ideas to make them easy to see when you glance at the page. Leave space between them for details.

Write details that either support or explain your important ideas. Make this type or writing smaller or lighter so that you can see the main points easier. Repeating details throughout the lesson will reinforce the connections you intend the class to make.

Make a separate section for your researched facts and important quotes or verses to avoid cluttering your outline. Include specific references for curious class members.

Prepare discussion questions and allot time for group discussion. Use open-ended questions that relate to the lives of the class members. Ask how they do or could apply the lesson in practice.