Student Interest = Eternal Dividends
In the local church, we often feel that we compete with many other things for the attention of our students. In our fast-paced world we may feel that we are standing still as the next generation races toward a future filled with the promise of new technology and innovative ideas.
But the truth is that the Church has the unchanging answer to age-old questions. No matter the changes and challenges that come with living in a postmodern society, the Church possesses the solution and always will.
Our quest then is to develop an interest, a desire, or a motivation for the truths we possess. In observing the Master Teacher, Christ made people aware of their own need by sharing parables or stories. There may be times that I fail to remember all the points of a sermon or lesson. But stories and illustrations provide a nutshell approach to the lesson that I may remember for years.
One of my favorite ways to maintain student interest from week to week is to have a continued story for a period of weeks. It is fun to e-mail or drop a short note in the mail to students reminding them of the ongoing saga. It may relate to the weekly lessons or just be something fun you do each week at the close of class time. Gaining the interest of your students may only be a story away.
You may discover a whole new line of communication open to you once you e-mail your students. I recently had a student give me her e-mail address. I had planned to respond that week but was unable to. The very next week she approached me again and clarified her e-mail address and noted that she hadn't heard from me yet. I am finding this young girl who appears rather quiet and reluctant to share in class is most ready to communicate in written form.
Setting student or class goals is another way to encourage student involvement. It may also help our students in applying what they have learned in class. For example in my class I recently taught a series of lessons from the Book of Philippians. The students learned a series of verses from Philippians and were challenged to read the entire book at home. They brought back student notes signed by a parent saying they had read the Book of Philippians or had it read aloud to them.
Recently, during my prayer time I asked the Lord how to make a genuine life-changing impact on my students. How could I keep them coming back each week? How could I raise the standard in their lives in such a way that their parents, teachers, and friends saw a difference in their lives? I was surprised at the simplicity of the Lord's answer: Communicate a genuine interest in them.
Jesus was a man of relationship. His connection with His disciples was life changing for them and ultimately impacted the world. Developing a friendship with your students will give them a sense of value and belonging. It will affect their lives long after the lesson is taught. Your investment in student relationships pays back in student interest now and eternal dividends for the future.