I Believe It Is Time For Change
As mentioned in my previous article, “Testimonies, Tips and Tidbits … Everything’s Beautiful in its Time,” I believe it’s time to uproot some of our listening-centered Bible teaching methods. Though they were “beautiful in their time,” they no longer seem to engage the students, especially in classes of children, youth and teens. In addition, I believe it’s time to move our focus and lesson topics from one of mostly Old Testament teachings to one more focused on New Testament issues relevant to our present time. This is not to imply that Old Testament teachings are irrelevant or unnecessary.
Though God still uses lecturing and listening-centered methods, many of today’s students have not disciplined themselves to sitting and listening to one teacher lecture them for a long period of time. When the students get bored, distracted, and impatient, they frequently choose to disengage from the learning process. They look for something different to do and often resort to bad behavior, even disrupting the whole class. For example, in one class I taught, a seventh-grade boy even went so far as to convince the other students to laugh and mock me when I tried to keep him from disrupting our class. The teachers of this present time have to deal with this type of behavior on a daily basis.
I believe our present day Bible teachings need a greater filling of the Holy Spirit and a fresh, new format. We need to leave the boring, expected routine behind and add some Bible based, fun and variety to our classes. We don’t need more “entertainment” in our classes; rather we need more educational activities and more variety. Learning God’s word should be exciting—not boring.
In addition, our Bible teachers need to be more aware of the attitude they have towards their class and their teaching. If a teacher is bored, cranky, disengaged, tired or unprepared on a regular basis, he or she will pass that attitude toward the things of God on to their students. In contrast, a teacher who is excited about God’s word, the lesson plans, and is well prepared for teaching will pass his or her excitement on to the students. Therefore, as teachers, we need to examine our own attitudes and hearts before we try to teach our students.
Also, as Bible teachers in this present age, I believe we need to spend more time in prayer and in preparation for our lesson. We need to be empowered and filled with the Holy Spirit, who takes the information from our lessons and plants it into the hearts and minds of our students. Empowerment from God will give us what we need to confront the issues in our students, and ourselves. Allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us as we teach will ensure that our students hear what God has for them from the daily lesson.
I also believe teachers should make an effort to bring more activities and more fun into their classes. They should do what they can towards encouraging learning and making class time more enjoyable for our students. A few ways we can do this is by including more learning activities, encouraging student participation in the learning process, adding group activities and fellowship times, and having more visuals in the classroom, and in our presentations.
A Bible-based learning activity is an activity used to help students learn more aspects of their Bible lesson. For example, an application activity can be used to show the students how to apply lesson principles to their daily lives. For example, making a greeting card and delivering it to a sick friend can be an example of loving others. Some other examples of learning activities can be arts and crafts; cooking projects; demonstrations of how things work; displays; drama activities; educational activities; games; object lessons; real life activities—like testimonies, health and science illustrations, etc.—and writing activities. Whatever activity the teacher chooses, the most important point is for it to add relevant information or reinforce the lesson plan. An effective Bible learning activity can help make an exciting classroom experience and can create a “memorable moment” that will reside in the hearts and minds of the students long after class is over. Chances are the student will go home and share their experience with others.
By including more learning activities, we also encourage more student participation in the learning process. There are multitudes of these little activities to choose from because the number and variety of activity choices is limited only by the boundaries of Christian living established in God’s word and by the collective imaginations of those who contribute, create, design, manufacture, use or write Bible teaching materials.
Group activities, including fellowship activities, can give the students more time to get to know each other in a wholesome, church environment. The activities can also teach students how to relate to one another in working environments and how to deal with conflict with others. There are many lessons to be learned from being around other people, including learning how to treat those of the opposite gender. Consideration for others and manners are only a few.
One example of a simple group activity called an “icebreaker” can be started by the teacher. He or she could start by saying their name and briefly telling the class what hobbies they enjoy doing in their free time. After the teacher says his or her part, the next student can be directed to do the same, and the students can each take a turn at introducing themselves. This simple activity can gently nudge the students to get acquainted with one another, and the teacher can gain some insight (what the students like to do) as well. In doing this activity, the teacher must take care to make sure the questions are appropriate and not too personal. Also, no one should be forced to participate.
Excitement can also be added to Bible classes by using visuals to decorate the classroom and enhance lesson presentations. There are an endless number of visuals that can be made without a lot of time or expense and there are many different ways to bring visuals into lesson presentations. For more ideas and information on this topic, see my other articles, “Testimonies, Tips and Tidbits…Color verses Black and White” and “Testimonies, Tips and Tidbits…Time Fillers, Time Killers and Time Redeemers.” If you still want more information, the Internet can be a valuable resource.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, another improvement needed in our Bible teachings of today is to provide more lessons on timely New Testament topics that are relevant and vital to individuals and societies of this present age. We need to focus on issues like salvation, new birth, Christian living, Jesus, establishing a relationship with God, etc. which prepare people for eternity with Christ and teach them how to live Godly lives in this present age.
During the years I served in Children’s ministry and other various roles in the church, curriculum focused mainly on Old Testament stories and themes. Those these are good teaching topics, they didn’t spend time teaching on the relevant issues (like mentioned in the previous paragraph) that equip and prepare people for daily life both natural and spiritual. They didn’t teach people that it was vital to have a personal relationship with God; nor did they teach students what they needed to be able to stand strong in the Lord and confront the evil they face on a daily basis in this world. In addition, not much time was spent on teaching students about prophecy and the end times that signal the second coming of Jesus Christ.
As I remember, most of the curriculum I saw focused mainly on Biblical historical accounts of events and people in the Old Testament (like the stories of David and Goliath, David and Saul, Abraham and Sarah, etc.). Though some of the curriculums touched on Jesus’ life and ministry, those went by quickly and weren’t revisited. These curriculums did not prepare our students to use their Bibles to find answers to their problems, get born again, establish personal relationships with Jesus, or live in the world around us today—a world of evil that continues to bombard us with its messages, enticing us into temptation and evil pleasures—and away from God.
God doesn’t want His people to conform to this world (1 John 2:15-17), to love the things of this world, or to be deceived by its continual enticement and evil pleasures. Nor does God want us to fall into the traps of Satan, our adversary. God wants us to love Him and He loves us back. He loves us with an everlasting love, a love deeper than we can ever understand. God want us for His special people, now and throughout eternity.
In conclusion, I believe it’s time for change. We need to take a serious look at ourselves, our teaching methods, and our Bible-teaching materials. After meditating on these things, we should ask ourselves, “Are we preparing the students of today to become strong Christians who know the Bible, who can stand during difficult times, who live Godly lives, who confront evil and do Spiritual warfare, and who shine brightly in this evil world, bringing glory and pleasure to God? Are the materials I’m teaching with geared toward that end? Am I spending time with God and in preparation of my lesson? Do I have the Holy Spirit living in me and empowering me for His service?”
As Christian writers, we also need to ask ourselves these questions about our writing, “Do our writings point others to Jesus? Do they help prepare God’s people? Am I spending time with God? Do I have the Holy Spirit living in me, empowering me for God’s service? Does my writing bring God glory and pleasure?”