People who come an hour before worship generally are motivated to get something out of Bible class. Here are a few things they can try to get more out of their Bible class experience:
1 – Take notes. This is a no-brainer but I can’t tell you how low a % of people in the classes I have taught at church take notes. Here is why this is so important. Answer this question – “What was the subject of the Sunday morning Bible class you were in 5 Sunday’s ago?” You probably don’t remember specifically unless you are working through a book chapter by chapter and can figure that out through subtracting 5 from the chapter you will study next week. You may find it helpful at the end of your notes each class to write down a couple of action/application items that you could do to put the take home points of the lesson into practice.
2 – Be prepared. Reading ahead is probably the most obvious way to do this. Whether it is a chapter in the Bible or a chapter in a study guide/book. Be prepared. You will get so much more out of class if you know what people are talking about and can contribute as at least a pseudo-expert. You will have much more to contribute and understand more of what others say if you read ahead.
3 – Live Christianly. Bible class makes more sense if you are actually trying to live a life as a disciple of Jesus Christ. You will be more open to hearing what God wants you to hear if you are in step with the Spirit.
4 – Don’t say every comment that pops in your head. This allows other people time to talk. This also makes you more selective of what you do say and in doing so increases the quality of your comments. It also means you will say fewer things you will regret later. It is hard as a teacher to continue going back to the same raised hand over and over again too. Some people just need to learn discipline and to be humble enough to realize that while their thoughts and opinions are important that not everything has to be said out loud to the whole class. Other people matter as well.
5 – Do a rabbit trail check. Ask yourself – does my comment add to the conversation and take us further down the path the teacher is trying to keep us on or does it take us down a HUGE rabbit trail and get the whole class off track on a minute issue that may or may not be very relevant for other members in the class.
6 – Be aware of visitors in the class. It is easy before and after class to talk with friends and often visitors get excluded from conversations and it results in them not feeling welcome. This is just as simple as an awareness issue and will result in a Bible class that is more likely to grow. It is also important that class members be aware of visitors in the comments they make. Sometimes we air our dirty laundry in front of people who really don’t need to hear it and people have a bad experience. This does not mean we aren’t free to talk about those things (double negatives can work out well, can’t they?). We just have to be wise and discuss them at the appropriate time, location, and with the right audience.
7 – Appreciate your teacher. Teachers normally put a lot of hours into each Bible class and it is important that they feel edified by the class. Write them a note or let them know in person how much you appreciate their teaching and preparation each week.
8 – Utilize your church library for additional resources. Depending on how well your church library is maintained this one may be a winner or may be a flop but it is worth a look. The commentaries that would probably be most helpful to you would include these three series: NIV Application Commentaries, Interpretation Series, or N.T. Wright’s “For Everyone” Series. If you don’t see these in your church library find out who does the purchasing and see if they are open to suggestions. You would be amazed how many churches have a library budget but no one is purchasing anything. If your library is lacking utilize web-based resources like the ones found above on this blog on the “Learnin” tab.
9 – Be early. It can be a real distraction if the teacher has a dozen people file in 20 minutes late. It amazes me how sometimes people will show up for class 40 or 50 minutes late. Being early is respectful of the class, the teacher, and the material that everyone is trying to learn from and apply to their lives.
10 – Be respectful. This runs through many of the above points. In all we do we need to treat people with love and respect. Disagreements can be alright from time to time if they are done in love and respect for the other person and that the whole class understands that the two parties are alright with the fact that they never will agree on everything. Disagreements can be a powerful part of a class if they are handled well and don’t turn into something less than Christian.