Bible Classes A Means of Growth
E. L. Flannery
In seeking the growth of individuals and the local congregation Bible classes can be very useful, and will be if effectively planned.
In three years a local church conducting Bible classes Sunday morning, Sunday evening and mid-week can cover almost the same material relating to the Bible that is covered by a Junior "Bible" College. I took the catalogue of such a school and set up a three-year course for the local church. It included a detailed study of 16 books of the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, I and II Timothy, Titus, Revelation, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Proverbs); a survey study of the Old Testament, Paul's epistles, the Old Testament Prophets, the general epistles, the books of poetry and the post- exilic books; a subject study of the life of Christ, the New Testament church, church problems, Bible geography, church history, how to study the Bible, denominational error, marriage and home, Old Testament characters, the Decalogue, Christian living, worship, Christian evidences, plan of salvation, Paul's journeys, creation or evolution?, church organizations and random topics. Each of these books and subjects were 13 courses, enabling a good teacher and a good student to go into some depth in the study of each.
If a student attended these three weekly Bible classes regularly he would have 156 class hours in one year and 468 class hours on completing the three-year course. If the student went away to "Bible" College and took five hours of Bible courses a week he would in one school year (39 weeks) have 195 class hours, and in two years a total of 390 class hours. Thus it can be seen the student attending the Bible classes locally in three years would have the equivalent of 2/ years at a "Bible" college. I am stressing the quantity of class hours, not the quality of the teaching, for the latter depends upon the teacher in either case. I am stressing that we do have time locally through the local church to teach a wide range of Bible subjects and cover Bible teaching. More aggressive teaching programs within the local church can stimulate the growth of the local churches in the Northwest (and elsewhere). We cannot send our members away for Bible instruction, for it is not advisable or practical.
"Looks Good on Paper, But Does It Work?"
It is always more difficult to put a teaching program into practice than it is to plan it, but it has to be planned before it can be practiced! The program outlined above was for students Junior high school age and above and was divided into four classes (the congregation being small). If a small church had (or developed) just four Bible teachers these four teachers could conduct the classes and carry out a successful teaching program, but each would be teaching three classes each week (Sunday a. m., Sunday p. m., and midweek). If a congregation had twelve able teachers, then each teacher would have but one Bible class each week. Most churches have at least four men who could teach the Bible adequately and who would earnestly study to improve their teaching. The preacher could teach three times a week, and that leaves but three to be found to start a comprehensive Bible Study program in the classes. (NOTE: In the pre-school and first six grades we use prepared Bible lessons and the women as teachers, trying to avoid duplication in subject material.)
These courses are planned for thirteen weeks, and then the teachers rotate to different classes but teach the same subject over again. At the end of a year each teacher has taught his course of study to the four classes. This develops the teacher and meanwhile acquaints him with everyone in the congregation (that attends) from junior high and up.
Special classes should be arranged also. If Homer Hailey lived in Eugene, Oregon, instead of Temple Terrace, Florida, could he not profitably' to the members here, conduct special classes teaching us those wonderful Bible lessons he teaches presently there? Could not a man of Luther Roberts ability, who once taught in A. C. C. and now preaches in Salem, Oregon, conduct some Bible courses from time to time that would help the younger preachers, increase the knowledge of the elders, and edify any that would attend his classes? We need to build the strength of the local church and one way to do it is to build up the Bible class work locally. Yes, it does "look good on paper," and it will look better when a congregation buckles down to work and puts such a program of classroom teaching into effect.
Some T's of Bible Teachers
TraitsA good Bible teacher needs to be a genuine Christian, sincere, full of faith, unselfish, devoted, patient, diligent, enthusiastic, prayerful, hopeful and cheerful, and may I add, punctual?
TrialsMany times trials come along to discourage the teacher, but these but test and prove one's loyalty to Christ and consecration to duty. Some "trials" are presented in lesson materials that are poorly prepared, poorly graded. What pre-school teacher having children with vocabularies of from 70 to 3000 words has not found herself with material evidently written by a preacher accustomed to addressing adults? What teacher of Bible has not found her class crowded into a tiny room, poorly ventilated, poorly lighted, poorly equipped? Why do brethren spend $3000 to $4500 to equip an auditorium in even a modest building and then refuse to equip the classroom? Why do parents so diligently get "Johnny" to public school, but permit poor, irregular attendance at Bible classes? Just a few trials of teachers!
TemptationsTeachers are tempted (allured, enticed) at times to bluff their way along not really preparing their lessons well. They are tempted to blame others if their class attendance does not increase. They are tempted often to quit teaching: ("I'm too busy," "Too tired," "I don't know enough!")
ThrillsBut, "He that winneth souls is wise" (Prov. 11:30). And they must all be taught of God. What a thrill to be working for God, for Christ. What a thrill to lead a boy or girl, man or woman unto knowledge of God and the gospel of Christ.
TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 2, pp. 20-22 November 1965