From Faith Pulpit, Spring 2018. Used with permission.
A troubling trend is developing in churches today. This trend is not something we see in the “other” kinds of churches (i.e., the mainline, liberal churches) but in what we usually call “our” kind of churches—solid, Bible-preaching churches. The trend is a diminishing emphasis on Bible teachers and Bible teaching. This trend shows up in children’s and youth ministries, but nowhere is it more prevalent than in adult ministries, especially adult Sunday School classes.1 In this article we examine the New Testament emphasis on teachers and teaching and then suggest some action steps churches can take to reestablish their adult Sunday School classes.
The focus on Bible teaching in the gospels is on Christ’s teaching ministry. We see His emphasis on teaching in three areas: He was called a teacher, He had an extensive teaching ministry, and He included teaching in His last command to us.
Read Part 1.
Why did God choose to use preaching and teaching in the life of the church? Having given us the Scriptures, why did He not simply command us to read them together? After all, the only words uttered in a church gathering that are guaranteed to be perfect every time are those read straight from Holy Writ.
The answer has multiple parts. For one, preaching and teaching ministry is—like all other ministries in the church—an opportunity to be part of what God is doing among His people. For another, the ministry of the Word communicates what is written through the vehicle of a person and a life. He is speaking in the context of that life and also in the context of his relationship to his hearers.
But one huge reason we preach and teach rather than simply read Scripture is application. God’s people are edified by the connections we teachers help them make between what is written and the choices they face in life every day.
Studying Scripture is essential for every Christian family, but the Christian homeschooling family often asks, “How do I teach Bible class in my homeschool?”
Like most homeschool families, we immediately started searching for a Bible curriculum. An organized program is like a security blanket. It makes us feel as though all bases will be covered, and there will be no knowledge gaps. Teaching involves little to no elbow grease, as lesson plans are already laid out. We have confidence someone with expertise has chosen this material for a specific reason, and approved it for publishing. After all, how many of us homeschooling parents are theologians or curriculum publishers?
As we searched for Bible curriculum, we found discrepancies between what we believe to be Scriptural and what the curriculum was teaching. Many were shallow, or had an obvious gimmick. The emphasis was sometimes inconsistent with our values and priorities. The format and illustrations were often too cartoonish or too trite, and some felt disrespectful.