Teaching the Bible in a relatively small, somewhat informal setting provides unique advantages and blessing for both students and teachers. The spontaneity and interaction can often turn the class into a collaborative effort to edify and encourage one another, and no matter how high his level of expertise, the teacher is often edified as much as anyone else.
But there are many ways to reduce the effectiveness of this teaching format. Well-intentioned teachers can easily discourage participation, focus, and thoughtful engagement—in some cases to the point that everyone is discouraged and frustrated rather than built-up and refueled.
We’ll consider some common mistakes teachers make with this kind of teaching, focusing for now on question-related problems.
The constitutions and bylaws of independent Baptist churches commonly include language that forbids divorced persons from teaching Sunday School or holding church office. The restriction is so common that of the dozens of church constitutions I’ve read and filed, only one or two lack some version of it. Since many churches with these restrictions have some history of conflict over them, the topic also tends to be seen as a minefield—best to fence it off and leave it alone.
But these same church constitutions and confessions of faith also strongly emphasize the authority of Scripture, and one question should always be welcome: Is what we’re doing biblical? Is it compatible with Scripture and the revealed nature and purposes of the church?
Let’s consider some arguments pro and con.
Read Part 1.
The central purpose of the church is to exalt Christ. We do that through evangelism, worship, fellowship, prayer and in general, making disciples (Acts 2:42-43). The primary means by which disciples are made is through the transforming power of the Scriptures as the Holy Spirit uses the inspired Word to change lives (Rom 12:1-2). Therefore, it is vital that the local church provide a variety of means by which the life-changing truth of God’s Word is taught and applied to God’s people.
At this point I want to discuss specific means by which the Word of God can be taught in the church setting and conclude with some comments about personal study. I have to say that as a pastor of the same church for over four decades there is nothing that is on my mind more frequently than how to communicate God’s Word to His people in such a way that it transforms lives. I often wake up at night thinking of a family or individual who is not doing well spiritually, praying for ways that they might be reached with the truth of God’s Word.
From Think on These Things, March 2017; used with permission.
I concluded my article titled “Biblical Illiteracy” with these words:
Biblical illiteracy is well recognized today. There are many reasons why not only the general population but also the evangelical church has little understanding and knowledge of Scripture, and I have tried to identify some of these in the body of this article. With all of the attacks on the trustworthiness of Scripture, coupled with general lack of biblical knowledge and apathy toward what it proclaims, it would be easy to despair for the future of the Scriptures.
But God’s Word always accomplishes that which it is sent forth by the Lord to accomplish (Isa 55:1) which is to teach, reprove, correct and train His people in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16). We have the promise of Jesus that His Word will never pass away (Matt 24:35). Rather than despair we should make every effort to pass along the Lord’s truth to the next generation (Deut 6:4-9; Psalm 145:4). At this point we need to consider some means to do so. What can we personally, and corporately as the church, do to address the issue of biblical illiteracy?
It is to this subject we now turn.