The Role of a Sunday School Teacher


A teacher has been variously described as a sculptor, craftsman, scholar, mentor or leader. Each of these descriptions provides glimpses of a teacher’s role. As for a Christian teacher, a recurrent biblical word has been used to describe the spectrum of his role – SHEPHERD. Just as the pastor is the shepherd of his congregation, so the Sunday School teacher must have a shepherd’s heart. In other words, a Sunday School teacher is the extension of pastoral ministry int he life of the class. An insight into this ministry is found in Acts 20:28.

Role of a Sunday School teacher

The role of a Christian teacher as a shepherd is spelt out clearly in at lest three passages of the Bible — Ezekiel 34:10-24, John 10:1-16 and John 21:15-23.

1. Ezekiel 34:10-24

– a sense of commitment to the `flock’.

– looks after the needs of each member.

– strengthens the weak and heals the sick.

– seek out those who have strayed and search for the lost.

– be ready to rescue them from all places.

– always accessible to each member of the `flock’.

– protects and provides the best nourishment and peace.

– sensitive to any injustice and internal strife.

– will be accountable to God and He is prepared to remove any shepherds who fail to live up to the responsibilities.

2. John 10:1-16

– symbolises a royal caretaker of God’s people.

– lawful guardian in contrast to a thief and robber who does mischief to the flock and damage to the owner.

– personal attention and contact with the members.

– leads the `flock’ rather than driving them.

– unmistakable recognition of his leadership by the `flock’.

– provides nourishment so that members can enjoy fullness of life.

– be prepared to risk danger for his members.

– remains faithful and has no selfish interests.

– an exacting calling and not a job.

3. John 21:15-23

– for fallen shepherds, God is always ready to restore their freedom and authority to teach.

– God’s love reigns in his heart leading to self-denial and full commitment in his tasks.

– feed or govern the `flock’ and not for his own pleasure.

– ‘tend my sheep’ is equivalent to pastoral care.

– a sense of humility as detected in Peter’s response.

– provides nourishment to the young converts with the mild of God’s Word.

– be prepared for impending spiritual warfare.

– offer ourselves submissively for God’s service.

– each shepherd shall bear his own burden (Gal 6:5).

– ready to embrace God’s Word and reject any foreign inventions or interpretations.

Qualifications of a Sunday School Teacher

1. He has a personal relationship with God; he is committed to the claims of Christ and to God Himself. (Rom 12:1.2)

What is your relationship with God? Have you accepted Jesus Christ personally? Is your life one of obedience to Him? Are you aware that as a Christian you do not belong to yourself anymore – you belong to Jesus Christ?

2. He relies upon God and has learned or is learning to be dependent upon Him. (Phil. 4:19)

Who does your teaching? Is God a part of your preparation as well as the class presentation?

3. The Word of God is firmly implanted within the heart and life of the teacher. (2 Tim 2:15-17; 1 Pet 3:15)

Do you have a regular Bible Study and Scripture memory time apart from your lesson preparation? Have you a sufficient grasp of the Scriptures so that you could counsel or lead a person through the plan of salvation?

4. The teacher’s view of people and especially his class members is one of respect for their ideas, attitudes and personality problems. (Phil 2:3,4)

Are you aware of the different beliefs and personal problems of your class members? Do they seek you out to share and confide in you? Can you accept a person with a differing or opposing point of view?

5. The teacher lives what he teaches. (1 Cor 11:1)

Do you daily seek to apply the truths of the lessons you teach to your life? Do you admit your faults to one another when you wrong someone?

6. The teacher realises that he is the vehicle through whom the Holy Spirit works and speaks to class members. (1 Tim 1:12)

Spiritual changes among class members are not wrought by the teacher but by the work of the Holy Spirit. What are you teaching? Is it your opinion or is it the Word of God? What does your teaching do for you? for your class? for Jesus Christ? Moreover, as teachers we are accountable to God eventually (James 3:1)


1. Understanding Teaching – Evangelical Teacher Training Association.

2. Principles of teaching for Christian teachers – C.B. Eavey.

3. Teaching teachers to teach – Donald L. Griggs.

4. The Hyles Sunday School Manual – Dr Jack Hyles.

5. The training of the twelve – Alexander Balmain Bruce.

6. Design for teaching and training – LeRoy Ford.

7. Bible class teaching leadership – Sheila Wood & Reginald Hill.

8. Teaching Sunday School – Brian Freer.

9. How to grow an effective Sunday School – Elmer L. Towns.

10. The successful Sunday School and Teachers’ Guidebook – Elmer Towns.

11. Creative Bible Teaching – Lawrence O. Richards.

12. International Centre of learning (ITL) Teacher’s/Leader’s Success Handbook series for four basic age groups; Early Childhood, Children, Youth & Adult –

Series 1: Ways to help them learn

Series 2: Ways to plan and organise your Sunday School

(May 88)