I am guilty of writing a bunch of thoughts, opinions, and various and sundry other ways of contemplating the biblical navel and end the discussion gaining little more than having thought about something a little more or with a slight nuance. How many of you feel your life has never been the same since reading about headings in the TNIV or this post about the new song Days of Elisha?
The Bible is meant to be meditated on with the intention of drawing closer to the God who reveals himself to us in those pages and through those men who wrote down their experience of the moments in their generation when God revealed himself through His words and deeds. When you start reading the Bible with that desire application will follow. Application does not boil down to a series of “How does this make your day different tomorrow” questions. Application is the result of encountering Christ through His Word and through a daily walk with Him. When that is happening on a regular basis we will find ourselves living out our faith on a regular basis. Too many times we fool ourselves into thinking that application is just thinking about application and not really doing anything about it.
So how does this make our Bible classes and sermons different next week? Oh wait, I am not supposed to ask that question right? 🙂 Discussing the Bible has to be more than an exchange of thoughts and opinions. Bible study is the intersection of the lives of each person engaged in the discussion with the word of God with the realization that when we part ways our lives will never be the same again.
1 – We have to understand the reason we meet together. Often we default into two things: 1) fellowship mode and 2) discussing opinions with no real desire for change in our lives. Bible classes and worship gatherings must understand that we meet together to encounter Christ as a community and to engage ourselves with him in meaningful ways and that when it occurs we are changed. Ask people why they come to Bible class and see what they say. You will typically hear, “We come to learn more about God.” Good answer, but then what? So you come here to have your opinions changed and sharpened and to be more informed about God? Is that really why God wants you in Bible class? I think he wants you there to draw closer to him and part of that is studying his word but that is not the whole picture.
2 – We have to provide opportunities for growth to occur. I am not talking numbers. I am talking about discipleship and spiritual transformation. I don’t think we can make people grow spiritually…that if we use just the right formula or method or copy what the big church down the street did that we will automatically grow. But we can create environments that provide opportunities for growth. This takes a really good leader in the class who understands the objectives of the class and who continually voices and acts on those things. They model it for the class.
3 – We have to learn to disagree with grace and practice healthy conflict resolution. Let’s face it, a healthy growing class will have none Christians in it. What they see and hear from the Christian members of the class can open them or close them to the message of Christ. Often we let personalities get in the way of someone coming to know Christ. Many lost people think Christians don’t know how to get along. So let them see us disagree gracefully and end the discussion with love and respect and healthy conflict resolution.
4 – We must practice mutual submission. Why is it that the younger people are always the ones expected to give up their wants and desires but less often do you find a church willing to defer their taste in song selection, etc to the tastes of the young people? Mutual submission must be just that – mutual. It is a give and take. People need to be taught mutual submission early in their Christianity because the day will come when they will have to live it out and if they don’t have the foundation they will stumble over it.
5 – A refusal of the country club mentality. We greet Christians and non-Christians alike – with open arms and an attitude of love and acceptance.
6 – Get the momentum to shift from comfortable complacence to action. We are talking about evangelism in our men’s class. One thing we do each week is give out a name of someone who has stopped coming to church with their address and phone number and ask the men to pray for that person and write them a letter to encourage them. It is small but for someone who has never tried anything before it is a move and a shift in momentum. Now they have done something and might see a good result that will encourage them to try something bigger or bolder in the future.
What Bible class have you been a part of that you feel like made a dramatic impact on your life. Why? What was special about that class? What have you tried as a teacher that have helped others get momentum in living out what they believe?