Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Teaching Wisely While Not Teaching the Bible

Some of us were a bit nervous about leading bible studies at church camp. Would we be able to teach the Bible clearly and faithfully to a group of strangers? Would we be able to tailor our bible study leading styles quickly enough to the quirks of the vast age range and differing backgrounds of people we would meet for the first time in such a context? Would we get to know them well enough to realise how to adapt our styles? Would we be able to love them properly? Would we be too shy to challenge the members according to the Bible of certain areas of their lives?

Over yet another buffet meal (that Madame Folly temptation to greed for Singaporeans: "paid for it already, must eat as much as possible to make sure we get our money's worth!"), we were thankful that most groups went ok. The people got the main point of the studies, were fairly challenged and no one had flower pots hurled at them. We'd done our duty and planted the seeds. Since it was unlikely that we would see our group members again among the 4 services at ARPC, we could only pray that the Spirit would work on the seeds of the Word in their lives to make them grow and bring them to fruition.

I also realised that like parenting, quite a lot of teaching occurs also when we're not specifically opening up the Bible and teaching from it in formal studies.

Like children look and learn from their parents/primary caregivers, members also look and learn from the lives of their bible study leaders. Someone told me how she was deeply touched by the simple act of her bible study leader serving water to the group and realised that service to God's people wasn't confined to formal ministries (like sound, or music, or pulpit) but concerned every little part of our lives. As embarrassing as that may be and as much as we may want to tell them to cut it out, it's reality that if we are seen to know more of the Scriptures, we are expected to conform more to Christ's likeness.

And so we are still teaching (either truth or falsehood/wisdom or folly) when we:
  • ignore the other folks at the table and chatter away only with old friends and familiar faces;
  • allow doors to slam in other people's faces when we exit rooms;
  • address children directly instead of talking about them as if they weren't present;
  • give up our places in the lifts to mums clutching brawling babies, prams and huge baby bags;
  • note with enthusiasm,"There are more cute girls/guys this year";
  • plan to "accidentally" skip a talk (because we'd heard it all before) so we can have more shopping time in KL;
  • lose our temper and accuse the judges of unfairness during Bad Breath Hockey...
Scary. But knowing the impact on people's lives, is it surprising that those who teach will be judged with greater strictness (James 3:1)?

PS: Rory Shiner has an article in the same vein where he talks about how people who lead church meetings "teach" the congregation while they MC the gathering. See The Briefing, June 2005.

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