True confession. The idea for this post came to me as I sat in an adult Bible class. It wasn’t that it was a bad class. Or that the information shared wasn’t biblical. It just lacked in practicality and challenge. I kept asking myself, “What are we being challenged to do with this? What would a new Christian even think to do with this?”
At Teach One Reach One, we try to encourage teachers to teach Bible classes in ways that will help their students not just learn about what God said in the Bible. We want them to know what to do with this knowledge you are giving them. We also want them to know how to make Christianity a very part of their identity and not just a check list for them.
There are six important “what” questions your students should be able to answer at the end of every lesson. Younger students will have simpler answers than teens. It may take you more than one class period to help students really understand the answers to all six questions, but they need those answers to really live out God’s Plans for their lives.
- What are the basic facts in this Bible story or passage of scripture? Your students need to be able to remember at least the gist of the story or passage in order to be able to fully incorporate it in their lives. They may need to remember it in the moment to help them make godly choices. This can include knowing the basic facts of the story, being able to summarize a passage in their own words or even memorizing scripture.
- What does God want me to learn from this passage? Every story, every passage has one or more application principles in it. Yes, those things happened to specific people or the words were written for a specific audience, but we also know scripture was used for instructing all of God’s people from the very beginning. Even the letters in the New Testament were passed from congregation to congregation – regardless of the original recipient. So what are those principles or commands? You may only want to focus on one if there are multiple options or cover several at a time. Make sure there is enough discussion so your students understand what this looks like lived out in their own life each day. Your students may have a hard time generalizing to other situations, so make sure you give a lot of current examples for even simple concepts like lying.
- What skills do I need to be able to do this consistently in my own life? Talking about concepts like godly conflict resolution or stewardship is great. If your students have never seen anyone handle conflict in godly ways or don’t have a clue how to make a budget, the chances they will live out their faith in this area are greatly reduced. It may take extra time and effort, but make sure your students have the skills necessary to more easily obey God.
- What do I need to do to practice what God wants me to do? Often godly behavior requires establishing good habits. Your students need practice at making good choices carefully or resolving conflict in godly ways. Even serving others and sharing their faith need practicing. The more opportunities you can give them for practicing in an environment where they can get loving feedback, the better. You want them to be able to tell the truth or make a godly choice quickly if the situation demands it. This often only comes after lots of practice.
- What can my Christian community do to help me with this? We all need encouragement and godly mentors. Young people need to have people in their congregation who know them, love them and interact with them on a regular basis. They need to have people with whom they feel comfortable asking for prayers, encouragement or advice. They also need to have people in their congregation whom they know will hold them lovingly accountable when they are sinning.
- What am I like if this becomes a part of who I am? Christianity isn’t a checklist. It’s about hearts. It’s about becoming a godly person, not just making godly choices. Your students need to begin to understand the subtle difference. Being obedient to God on the surface while your heart is full of rebellion and sin, doesn’t work for God. Do your students really understand this principle in spite of having heard Bible stories and scriptures for years? Do they know the difference between a heart that is God’s and one that merely pretends to be? This is a huge question that your students may take years to fully understand. Keep trying to answer it though, as it makes a major difference.
Look at your lesson as your prepare. Are you doing things that will help students answer these important questions? You may even want to actually ask students the questions and see what kind of answers you are getting. Make adjustments in your lesson or activities if necessary to help your students find these answers. It can make a huge difference in their spiritual lives.