Practical Suggestions for Improving Bible School

By: Johnny O. Trail — These suggestions are intended to be twofold in nature. Some of these suggestions are intended for teachers and some are intended for parents and adults who are in our Bible study classes. These suggestions are intended to enhance our study of God’s word and to demonstrate the significance of God’s word in our lives.

A teacher needs to understand that the greatest privilege we have in this life is to teach God’s word to children and adults. No other work we seek to accomplish has eternal consequences. Thus, we must note that our teaching and associated attitudes impact a person very deeply. To that end, we might make a few suggestions to enhance the experience for those in our classes.

Be prepared and on time for you class. Most people are woefully unable to deliver a lesson “off the cuff.” Sometimes this is unavoidable; especially when you are asked to teach a class at the very last moment. That fact not typically being the case, teachers need to have their materials ready and their lessons studied before walking into the classroom. When one is perpetually late and unprepared, it demonstrates that Bible class is not a priority in their lives. Kids and adults pick up on this non-verbal message and immolate what they perceive.

Some of the preparation that one might have to do could require one to work on class materials (especially for small children) several weeks or months in advance. The more prepared one is to teach a class the less anxious that person will be when the time to teach finally arrives. Students are aware of that anxiety and can potentially exploit it. Being prepared also creates less anxiety for the teacher when unexpected things happen.

Learn the names of the people in your class to the best of your ability. This is easier done in small class settings. If you teach an auditorium class that is large in number, it can be difficult to learn every person’s name. In small classes with children or adults this can be easier. If you learn the names of the people in your class, they will sincerely appreciate it.

If the class setting is conducive to it, try to form a connection with your student. Some people just need to know that someone cares for them. Jesus showed compassion to the multitudes. Matthew 15:32 says, “Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way. The adage is true “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”[1]

If you are teaching young people, try to find out who their parents are. If they are not members of the church, invited them to our Bible study and worship assemblies. This can be done in person, by letter, by internet, or by phone. Many people have been converted to Christ by children who initially came for VBS or with a young friend to Bible study.

If you are teaching a class (especially for children), be excited and happy about what you are doing. In all honesty, this writer knows that his best classes in academia were taught by the best teachers he ever had. A teacher that has zeal and energy can make a difference in how one perceives Bible study. This does not mean charisma without biblical content!

Furthermore, a parent or adult in Bible school also needs to consider some things to improve upon their experiences in Bible study. For a moment we might discuss a few ideas to help the teachers and ourselves to further our understanding of the Bible.

As much as is possible, read ahead in the materials to acclimate yourself to the lessons that are being presented. If one knows that they will be studying out of a certain book of the Bible, one might read and study that book prior to arriving to class. If there are books that accompany the class, try to have the week’s lesson prepared so you can participate in class.

If you have small children, please try to be on time with them. Having had small children at one time, I know what a struggle this can be. At various times in our lives, we had to get infants ready and later in life three children ready for church. If a preaching brother can do this with all the accompanying responsibilities of teaching classes and preaching a lesson, you can too! If you have help from older siblings, family members, or a spouse, this can go a long way in making things easier for you on Sunday mornings. Husbands and older children need to step up and help with this burden.

Attempt to have your clothes ready and your bags packed the night before church to be on time. Hopefully, you have purposefully (I Cor. 16.1-4) planned on being in the assembly with your family. Having small children in church can mean packing for the occasion. Infants need formula, diapers, wipes, and other things to provide for any emergencies that might happen. From experience, it is like moving a small army! Oftentimes, parents make sure these items are packed and ready before church on Sunday morning. If all else fails, please come to church any way. Reasonable, compassionate people understand that unavoidable things can happen that sometimes make people late.

If you have children, find out about their classes and see if they are prepared. Typically, preparation for a student is less involved than the preparation that a teacher must engage in to conduct a class. Along these same lines, find out who their teacher is and have a dialogue about what you child needs to be learning and doing in Bible class. See how your child is progressing and what you can do to help.

If you have small children, please realize that the time will come when they need to be weaned from entertainment-oriented materials, so they focus on Bible class and the worship assembly. Bible class is not play time for children who can otherwise focus in pre-school and school settings. The expectations of participation and behavior should be similar in nature minus any worldly influences. When our kids were small, we carried a bag of “quiet materials” for them to focus on during church. When they got older, we removed these items so they could learn about worshipping God and listen to the messages that were being proclaimed. As a parent you set the boundaries for the child.

Whether you have small children or not, make a Bible study, worship, and fellowship with the saints a priority in your life. Ideally, the numbers on the tote board will be identical from Bible Study to worship. Alas, this is not the case in most congregations I have been familiar with over the years. Ira North, who was once the preacher for the largest church in our brotherhood once said, “As the Bible school goes, so goes the church.” His words ring true many years after his passing. People will know by your example what things are important to you. If being in the assembly with the saints is not a priority, you children will KNOW this. Jesus said in Mat 5:14-16 “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

[1] Quoted from Theodore Roosevelt.

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