Ask Angela: That's it! I need better Sunday School lessons

By Angela Trusty, For the Deseret News

Published: Mon, June 2, 2014, 5:25 a.m. MDT

 A reader is frustrated about the quality of Sunday School lessons and asks Angela for advice.

A reader is frustrated about the quality of Sunday School lessons and asks Angela for advice.

(Deseret News archives)

Dear Angela,

I really struggle with the Sunday School classes at church. The way the teachers present the material — it’s as if they are talking about something entirely different from what’s in the manual. How does a lesson about spiritual gifts turn into an all-out debate about cosmology? I’ve gone too many weeks without saying something because I don’t want to be disrespectful. But I need better lessons and I’m sure others do, too. What can I say? How can I say it?


Sunday Student

Dear Sunday Student,

Great question. Here are a few tips that I've used in my life that may help you with your current dilemma:

1. You can pass the buck. Typically I’m an advocate of speaking and acting for yourself, but in this circumstance, there are bishops, Sunday School presidents and other auxiliary leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints whose specific responsibility it is to help teachers conduct effective and spirit-inviting lessons. If you’re feeling like Sunday School has become an uncomfortable place, communicate that with the people who oversee it.

2. Be motivated by love. Sunday School is a place where there are a lot of diverse ideas, opinions and experiences flying around. Sometimes in conversation, we can be seduced by the desire to be right: “What I believe is right,” “My interpretation is right” or “My opinion is right.” That can put us at odds with each other when really the goal is to learn, to share, to uplift, etc. When you feel a genuine love for your teacher, for the other class participants and for the Lord, you’ll choose words and communication methods that communicate that love.

3. Pick your battles. I had a friend complain that all her teacher ever did was read from the manual. She complained that she “read from the manual before she came to class so coming to class and reading it again was a waste of time.” I can understand her frustration, but what about the other attendees who didn’t have time to read the lesson? What if the hour where they got to read the lesson with other members of the church was their only spiritual study for the week? Just because it isn’t our ideal, doesn’t mean it’s not pertinent and even life changing for someone else. So be sure to ask yourself, “Is it possible that this lesson is helping to strengthen someone else’s belief in Jesus Christ?” If so, you may consider leaving it alone.

4. Offer a new perspective. If a class feels like it’s going down a crazy path (we’ve all been there), share a different thought and follow it up with a question. It’s likely that others are feeling unfulfilled, too. Your questions could be the spark that impacts the course of the lesson for good.

These are just a few suggestions that I’ve found helpful. What about all of you? Have you shared “Sunday Student’s” struggles? How do you overcome them?



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Angela Trusty is a millennial writer who lives and writes about the young single adult Mormon experience. Twitter: askange_column

1. petersenjc
Springville, UT,
June 2, 2014

The suggestions in the article are good. But I've one request - don't call the bishop. Use the chain of command. Talk to the Sunday School president. He reports to a councilor in the bishopric over Sunday School. Try those first. I am a bishop and would very much appreciate ward members using other ward leaders who have been called and set apart in their areas of responsibility.

2. george of the jungle
goshen, UT,
June 2, 2014

A code of conduct.
1. watch what you say.
2. don't take what anyone said to heart or personally.
3. never assume anything.
4. always do your best.

There are things that's expected, things that's acceptable and things that is unacceptable or uncalled for.

If you don't stand for truth, you'll fall for anything.

3. george of the jungle
goshen, UT,
June 2, 2014

P.S. The truth is is you mater.

4. george of the jungle
goshen, UT,
June 2, 2014

Pss To clarifie , You mater, That's the Spirit of things. It's not all about you nor is it all about me. It's all about the Spirit of things, the greater good.
I'm not a smart person, I stop,look and listen before I cross the street. There are lines, fences, boundary's and limits for a reason.

5. Susan in VA
Alexandria, VA,
June 2, 2014

Are you active in the conversation? Or do you just sit there? Once you become active, you can help lead the conversation in a different direction. I sometimes ask:"Can you help me understand how this correlates to this weeks lesson and how I can make that relate to my life?"