In my previous post, Bible Class – Throwing Away the Template, Paul wrote,
“One complicating problem is that so many people have such a limited understanding of the Bible, and we only have so many chances to really teach the text. I agree the old template may be flawed, but I do believe there must be a time for serious, reflective study of the Scripture.”
The context of his comment was my post that basically said our template for Bible class is broken and needs to be fixed. That was probably too strong but the point I was making is that often Bible class becomes one more “to do” rather than actually being an environment that encourages growth, authenticity and a real relationship with God. We have all probably felt like Paul at some point and maybe feel that way right now. I know I have many times over. However, I think it is a flawed way of thinking about the problem of and solution to people’s lack of biblical knowledge. I say that lovingly and humbly because I think that view is one that comes out of a sincere love of God’s Word and a desire to teach it. However, we have to be realistic about the need/problem and the solution.
First, we don’t study the Bible to memorize lists of facts. I am not saying that is what Paul meant. I am saying that is often how it approached. That doesn’t mean biblical knowledge is unimportant. It does mean that biblical knowledge is not an end to itself. It points us to a relationship with God that is informed by scripture. Second, people will never study enough in Bible classes (1-2 hours/week) to actually become a mature Christian. It is flawed to think we provide what they need in Bible class once or twice a week.
So what do we do? If we can make them hungry, they will eat. If we get them seeking God, they will find Him. If we provide environments that encourage the relationship they will spend more time with God. Growth has to do with what happens outside the building. What happens inside the building, like in Bible class, is just a catalyst. So I am starting to see Bible class more as a place that launches people to grow during the week rather than the fire hose approach of having a professional teacher fill them with biblical knowledge for the week to come back the next week and do the same. That doesn’t mean we don’t or won’t teach the Bible. It does mean that Bible teaching is going to take us beyond covering a topic or teaching through a book in 13 weeks.
This all boils down to using our time in equipping, launching, and catalyzing growth rather than seeing Bible class as a stand alone spiritual need meter.
I am going to do several more posts that will include details of how to create environments that can stimulate growth through Bible class. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, feedback, criticism (constructive of course!) and questions.