When we teach and when we are in class we are expecting to get more words from the teacher than the text. I propose a new approach. This is not something to do every time you teach but I have tried this and I think you will find it worth your while and a memorable experience for the class. Here is what I did…see how this might work out with other texts.
I was preparing to teach Wednesday night class last week. I wanted to teach the sermon on the mount but I didn’t want it to be the same old class on the sermon on the mount and I didn’t want it to take 13 weeks to get through it. What I realized that was a lightbulb for me was this – the original hearers of that sermon didn’t get a second shot at it. They didn’t get to stop Jesus every 5 verses, take notes, ask questions, and open commentaries. Jesus spoke it. They heard it. They had to remember it. What conversations do you think the hearers of that sermon had along the road on the way home? What did they do about it? More importantly, what do we do about it?
But before you can get into any of that you have to hear the sermon. I asked them not to look at their Bibles or even think they could refer back to the words they were going to hear. Pretend you will only hear this once…now what do you hear. Then I read the sermon through in one chunk…just as it was done in Jesus’ day (obviously he may have said more than that but you get my point). Then we discussed it for the rest of class based on what people actually remembered.
It was a beautiful discussion because we were fully engaged. Try it out and see what you think. Read a whole letter of Paul then discuss. Read whole sections of Genesis and let the pieces fit together and connections be heard together as they were meant to be heard. See what happens!
For me, that’s the only way to lead a class on the Text. Sure, I study a bunch, so that I can make insightful comments, when they are appropriate and contribute to the understanding. But it’s much more important for others to talk about what they get out of the Text, than for one person to expound endlessly.
Absolutely…I teach classes that have a good mix of discussion. This approach is different, at least for me, in that it leads me to ask different questions than I typically do.