As a teacher who has worked in various ministries, I’ve come to believe that some of our teaching methods are not as effective as they used to be because of a variety of changes in our culture. I know the Holy Spirit works through us to touch our students. He can complete His work regardless of changes in our culture. I know the Holy Spirit wants to use us to bring God pleasure, and God promises His word will not return void; God’s word will accomplish all it sets out to do in spite of the way we teach. Yet I believe God wants each of us to do our best as we serve Him and share His word with others.
I also believe that our old-fashioned teaching method of lecturing students, while they listen and take notes, does no longer hold the interest of the students. The students of the present and future generations are conditioned, by their culture and environment, to expect high-quality, action-packed visual presentations. In addition, they desire to participate in the learning process by engaging in discussions, hands-on activities and learning experiences. They are not trained to sit still and listen to lectures for long periods of time.
The listening-centered “lecture” teaching method worked beautifully when radio provided most home entertainment. People loved to listen to the old radio programs. Perhaps the lecture method was still appropriate when television first came out and only a few people owned them. During this time, people were amazed at the “new technology” and were excited about hearing their favorite radio broadcast or watching the new black and white television screens. They conditioned themselves to sit quietly and listen for long time periods. Listening and sitting quietly came easier because traveling was difficult and there were fewer places to go. People spent more time working to provide for family survival, and they didn’t have the continual distractions provided by the multitude of goods and services that flood our market places today.
Also, during this time period, people’s expectations were easier to meet and their patience and tolerance were much greater. Imaginations were not continually stimulated by an ever-increasing line of electronic gadgetry and most people’s bodies weren’t saturated with caffeine and other stimulants. Drug and alcohol consumption wasn’t so rampant and so dangerous. The people of the past were, for the most part, satisfied with simple daily living and providing for the needs of their households. They worked hard and were committed to taking care of their families and their responsibilities. They didn’t require huge amounts of goods and services. Nor did they spend so much time, energy, and money on entertainment.
I believe listening-centered Bible-teaching materials and methods like lecturing were “beautiful in their time,” and God will still use them today for those who willingly sit and listen. However, many people, especially children, youth, and teenagers, do not discipline themselves to sit still and listen to educational programs or speakers for long time periods. Because of a lack of parental or self-discipline and cultural changes, many students become impatient, lose interest, get bored and lose their desire to return to class. Therefore, I believe the time for lectures and other listening-centered teaching methods was in the past, and we need a change in today’s Bible classes.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 KJV tells us, “He hath made everything beautiful in his time; also he has set the world in their heart so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
Scripture also tells us, “To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 KJV) I believe the time has come for us to “pluck up” some of these old teaching methods, especially in classes of teenagers, youth and children.
As a teacher, I believe we should endeavor to encourage learning and make our classes more enjoyable. I believe we can do this without compromising God’s word or turning our class time into more “entertainment.” We should pray and ask God for a fresh revelation and new methods of teaching that will engage our students and give them a passion for His word and attending church classes. With God’s help and wisdom, we can make our Bible classes more enjoyable and more relevant for today’s students.
As Christian teachers and workers, we should teach our students about the Bible, Jesus, salvation, Christian living, and how to establish a personal relationship with God. We should also teach them how to use their Bible to find solutions to the challenges they face and life, and how to apply scripture to their daily lives. We should teach them how to live a Godly life, how to use scripture to fight against lies of the enemy, and how to live victorious lives in Christ Jesus.
Satan, our adversary, is waging a full-blown war against God’s people because his time is short and he’s doing all he can to take as many people as he can down the path to eternal destruction. We need to equip our students, as best we can, to confront Satan with our sword—the Word of God–so they can stand and be ready for the time when Jesus comes back for His bride.
How can we, as Christian workers, be effective at training up God’s people with boring classes that only discourage them from coming?
I think it’s time to reflect on our past teaching methods and make some needed changes. I have suggested some ideas in the article entitled “I Believe it’s Time for a Change,” which can be found on https://faithwriters.com and my new blog https://christianeducationstation.wordpress.com I am also open to new ideas from Bible teachers who are out ministering during the present generation. Yes, I believe listening-centered Bible teachings were “beautiful in their time” which was, for the most part, a time in the past. Now our students need pastors, teachers, and other workers who are empowered by the Holy Spirit to love them, be examples and point them to Jesus Christ—the only answer to the overwhelming issues we all face in life. Jesus is the only one who can heal broken hearts and lives and make something beautiful from them. Pointing our students to Jesus should be our top priority.
September 8, 2017
This last week has been unique. Forest fires rage in the states surrounding us, and even in Payette, Idaho, a town several miles south of my hometown, Sandpoint, Idaho. The normally fresh clean air has been saturated with smoke from these fires. The sky is filled with a light gray color rather than the beautiful blue summer sky. The smoke looks like thick light-gray fog and decreases our visibility to the point where the mountains can barely be seen. The smoke smell is so thick that you wonder if you’re actually breathing in sawdust when you take air in. One night this week the news channel actually said that our little community of Sandpoint had the most hazardous air in the United States. How different it is from our normal breathing of clean mountain air.
The last week I’ve tried to stay in out of the bad air because I have allergies and asthma. The allergens in the air can cause me to have serious breathing issues. Yet no matter how you try to stay in, there are always errands to run and eventually you get cabin fever from being cooped up inside. My husband, Steve, and I did break out a few times to enjoy some meals out and run a few errands.
Steve enjoys getting outdoors more than I do. He likes to go various places and window shop. He also likes electronic gadgets and movies. Steve is a medically retired, disabled veteran and his medical issues prevent him from driving so I usually spend time every day making sure we get out for some time together. We enjoy drinking coffee and doing our Bible Study time in one of the local restaurants.
This morning we met with a man we usually disciple with the Word of God. We are presently studying the book of Mark. It’s a great reminder of the miraculous wonders Jesus did when He walked with His disciples on earth. It’s a great encouragement. With all of the fires, flooding, hurricanes and earthquakes going on around us, reading God’s word reminds us of the divine power of God–and His ability to keep us safe during the trials.
My heart goes out to those people in Texas, Louisiana, Mexico, Florida and any other areas who have suffered great loss due to the catastrophic events presently going on around us. Steve and I are praying for all of those people to have their needs met and God’s help in restoring their lives. The Biblical book of Nehemiah is a great source of encouragement for those who find themselves having to rebuild in times of trouble. Nehemiah told the Jews to remember how great their God was and how He would help them. Because of the many prayers going up for those presently in the midst of troubles, I know God will be there to encourage them and help them rebuild. Our God is faithful!