Revitalizing Bible Class – Determining a Better Win

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One of the most important lessons I learned from Andy Stanley’s book The Seven Practices of Effective Ministry is that it is crucial for ministries to identify the win for a ministry and communicate that win to those involved. When you do that everyone is on the same page working toward the same goal. Stanley uses a baseball analogy where he says in baseball all the players know what the win is…you have to cross home plate enough times to win the game. The problem in ministry is we don’t always tell people how to get to first base much less second or third or home plate. Just hitting a ball somewhere doesn’t constitute a win. This happens in ministry when the win is not communicated. The deacons, ministry leaders, teachers, staff, elders, all make their own determination of what a win looks like so everyone ends up running in whatever direction they choose.

What is the win in your education program and individual Bible classes? Has it ever been communicated or does each teacher each quarter determine it on their own, most likely based on what they have seen in the past? In my experience the win of most Bible classes is this: have 60 minutes of teaching from the bible or teaching a topic with related scriptures and hope people show up to hear it or participate in it (depending if the format is lecture or discussion). That is just my assumption after having been in Bible classes since I was a baby. I have never heard anyone actually say that is the goal but that is the problem. When no one says what the goal is no one knows how to get their so people make up their own and go with it. Stated or not that is informally communicated by the way Bible classes are set up in many congregations.

Defining and implementing a better win:
Personally I don’t think that is a very good win. It is not up to me to tell you what the win is for you education program and Bible classes. It is for you to think about, pray about, have a meeting with the elders, staff and teachers about and come to a consensus on. Then you have to make the necessary changes in order to create a different result. Those changes will depend on the direction you take but my point is, if you want a better direction it is going to take more than agreement on what the direction is. You have to take action. It has to be visibly different, even if it is just in small ways. Maybe your classes need more obvious application….so you discuss with all your teachers the need to spend the last 5-10 minutes of every single class discussing application and praying over it all. That is just one example. You may also want to communicate that to the congregation so that they can get on board in a more purposeful way.

Here are a few questions that may help you define the win:

  • What is the most important thing that can ever happen in your classes?
  • When have you seen that happen, why?
  • What obstacles do you face to taking a new direction?
  • Which of those obstacles are fixed and which are movable/manageable?
  • Which might be manageable two years from now? (this move may have to come in steps)
  • What adjustments to your ideal vision do you need to make based on the congregation’s maturity and perspective?
  • How many people is it going to take to get this done?
  • How will they be equipped, informed, and empowered to lead in this new way?

None of this changes until someone realizes the win is either poorly defined, not defined, or just too small to accomplish what we hope our classes accomplish.

How would you define the win for your adult education program? What things have you found helpful in having transformational teaching in your classes?

0 Responses

  1. Hi Matt:

    Thank you for this thoughtful entry. As a former education director for two congregations, helping both the membership and the leadership to conceptualize, develop and implement concrete goals to achieve “wins” has been one of my greatest challenges.

    The churches and the education ministries had broad mission and vision statements. But what was missing were written and clearly defined objectives, target goals and actions steps to serve as a framework. Without a plan, communication and feedback throughout the church family, how can one accurately measure “effectiveness” or “success”? After experiencing lax and haphazard Bible classes for years, many members found the change and shift in thinking a bit uncomfortable.

    The key ideas I continually emphasized were “make it personal” and “make it intentional”. Over time I have found these 3 elements have been very effective in maturing and refining our education programs:

    (1) Regular teacher devotions and planning meetings
    (2) Formal and informal parent/teacher meetings
    (3) Periodic teacher trainings and workshops that emphasized personal development, student development and class/lesson development

    Written and structured “game plans”, ongoing accountability, education, and communication as well as prayerful development, implementation and follow-up are essential.

    Thanks for allowing me to share and keep up the great work!


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