Letting the Holy Spirit Lead When Your Lesson Falls Flat

dove - symbol of Holy Spirit

We’ve all been there. You’ve planned the perfect lesson for the children or adults in your session. You’ve spent the week memorizing the material and making notes. You did the extra research to come with some great information not found in your regular curriculum. You’ve even prepared handouts or activities or songs.

But once you got in the classroom, the lesson plan didn’t work at all. The group didn’t understand the material; your activities were too hard or too easy; no one was willing to sing or even speak out. Your perfect lesson fell on its face. Before you panic in such a situation, remember we always have the option of Plan B: call in the Holy Spirit.

  • First, take a deep breath. Every catechist has experienced a lesson falling flat at some point, so this puts you in the company of some really great people.
  • Second, pray for guidance. If you don’t invite the Spirit in, you may not be open to the opportunities presented.
  • Third, take a mental step back, see what is going on around you, and discern how you can turn that into a lesson. This last step is really the most important, because this is where you allow the Holy Spirit to guide you and to open your eyes to all the possibility around you and what it is your group really needs from you.

With the Holy Spirit in your corner, you can find a lesson in anything. Ask that one participant who always raises her hand how she would explain the topic to the others. Share a personal story about how the topic has presented itself in your life, and then ask if anyone has had a similar experience. Start a spontaneous game. Lead the group in a prayer for guidance and understanding. Take a “field trip” outside the classroom—visit the church, stroll in a garden, sit or stand near a saint’s image—and reflect on the topic (or even a different one) in a new setting.

No matter what you do, remember that the Holy Spirit will never let you down.

What are your best strategies for what to do when a lesson falls flat? How do you help your catechists learn these strategies?


Heather Felton is a teacher and former Director of Faith Formation in Florida. She lives in northern Manatee County with her husband, two children, two dogs, and a bunny. When she isn’t working, Heather can be found reading, playing video games with her family, or writing children’s stories.

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