A blog about everything about teaching the Bible. "And still I will show you a more excellent way..." (1 Corinthians 12:31).

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Balanced Bible School

Attaining perfect balance in anything is improbable if not impossible this side of eternity, but people with sound minds should strive for it. A healthy church needs leaders who strive to keep things as balanced as possible. The doctrine needs balance—right down the middle of Scripture without leaning to the left or right. Activities need balance between those that facilitate relationship building and recreation, and those focused on the word and good works. The same is true with the Bible School or Education Program.

It takes a lot of prayer and planning to keep the local church Bible School balanced. I maintain a five to seven year core plan for adults’ classes to help me see how long ago, how soon again, and how often we’re studying a particular book of the Bible or topic. I have age-specific goals for each age and grade of children's classes and either carefully purchase or write curriculum to accomplish them. I keep files on who’s taught, is teaching, or will teach, and add to the folders every quarter. I spend hours every month at Christian bookstores and searching online for good materials. I subscribe to more than a dozen e-zines, journals, and email groups and attend one or two ministers’ luncheons every month to stay abreast of what’s going on in the brotherhood and the world, and with the latest wisdom on “best practice” in ministry. Every year I reevaluate the goals of the program and pray about the plans. I give massive credit to God for making it all work in spite of my shortcomings. When the plan is all in place it just remains to execute it.

Several factors can complicate execution. While it may be part of the plan to have a class on a certain subject, like “marriage and the home,” qualified, willing teachers may not be ready when I’d like them to be, and may need encouragement and development before they’re ready to tackle the subject. It can also be very difficult to maintain balance with the volunteer work force. It takes careful planning two or three quarters in advance to ensure the right teachers are ready to teach when they’re needed. Even with the planning, sometimes it doesn’t work out the way I planned.

Finally, when it comes down to it, the purpose of the Bible School is to train students in the word of God’s truth, the Bible. If that isn’t happening, it doesn’t matter what else is, the program’s a failure. If it is happening, the program may leave a lot to be desired, but I say it’s a success. In some way, within the scope of a decade at most, Bible School leaders must see that every book of the Bible is taught or surveyed. Selections from Scripture such as the Sermon on the Mount, select Psalms, the Christian Graces, etc., out to be emphasized. There must be teaching on marriage and raising children every year. There ought to be regular teacher training and enrichment opportunities. A New Converts’ Class is needed every year and then two quarters later have a New Members’ Orientation Class if the church is growing at all. If it’s not, maybe it’s because there haven’t been any good classes on evangelism. Church members need classes about all the subjects that affect their daily lives from dealing with addictions to viewing their work as a ministry and dealing with finances. Church doctrine ought to be emphasized in the Bible School. There must be classes about the gospel from a variety of angles, studies of the Godhead, Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Spirit. There need to be classes about worship, church leadership, church organization, and, of course, the Plan of Salvation. This list is far from exhaustive.

It will be near impossible to keep all of the above truly balanced, but a program worthy of the Lord, and effective in equipping the saints to accomplish his mission, must be as balanced as possible. Please encourage those who work hard administrating the Bible School in your local church!


TheNewPhill said...

Thank you for the encouragement and sharing your practices.

I also believe that teaching books and not just topics is an excellent way to help kids learn to read the bible for themselves - ie: not "proof texting" - eg: taking a verse and applying it morally but out of original context.

Thanks for your work blogging.

TheNewPhill said...

PS. The comment process is far too user un-friendly!

Joshua Pappas said...

You're welcome, and thanks for reading and commenting. The user-un-friendliness is Blogger's fault I guess, but I'm working on some changes that may help in the future.