- Confessing “I had very little time to prepare this week” at the start of your lesson. There is not need to confess this, it will become apparent to everyone soon enough. If you are charged with handling the Word of God and these eternal matters and teaching it to others, but cannot make time to adequately read, study, understand, illustrate, and prepare to teach, you have no business being a teacher.
- Trying to do it all yourself. The teacher of a Sunday School class/small group should focus on just that, teaching. Trying to do too much will lead to you confessing, “I had very little time to prepare this week.” Appoint someone to take care of tracking attendance and do follow up with group members, let someone else handle planning fellowship activities, and someone else still to track prayer and needs of the group.
- Failing to make time for fellowship and relationship development. A group should not just see each other once a week when they meet, but should have interactions in various other settings. Sometimes this happens more naturally than others, but groups should form relationships, especially as the group deals honestly with Scripture. These relationships will also lead to members serving one another. This also means that it is not bad if some of the class time is spent “catching up” with one another.
- Failing to start or finish on time. This should be obvious, but respecting people’s time will go a long way. In my experience, the inability to end on time usually comes about because of lack of adequate preparation. It is easy to fill 30, 45, or 60 minutes with talk. It is hard to pin-point the focus of the text and the lesson so that it can be completed within its allotted time.
- Not spending time with group members outside of class time. Like #3, it is important for the teacher to develop relationships with class members. Don’t isolate yourself. In fact, you will do will to be mentoring and training an assistant teacher, and others within the group individually.
- Failing to see that the needs of your group are met. It is important to see that the group doesn’t let things fall through the cracks. Nothing is worse than the group taking food over for bereavement or a birth for one member, and not for another. That’s why it’s good to have someone who has a natural leaning toward this type of thing to head it up.
- Using poor curriculum, or using good curriculum poorly. Both errors are disastrous. Using curriculum of questionable theological quality will sow seeds ruin. Using good materials poorly, such as teaching with a dry, uninteresting style, an arrogant manner, or inadequately prepared, will likewise be the downfall of the group.
- Making the group about you, rather than about Christ. If you think for one moment that your dynamic personality, great style, or superb teaching abilities will make disciples of Christ, you are wrong. If you long for the position, to have people look to you as an authority or praise you for what you do, don’t become a Sunday School or small group teacher. You are God’s servant to deliver the good news of Jesus Christ for the salvation and sanctification of those who you are given responsibility for. This is a sacrificial and humbling task. In all you do, do everything for the glory of God.