If you are going to be an effective adult bible study curriculum teacher you must engage the culture around you. There is a lot of study on what this means and how to most effectively go about it but I will try and keep it simple. For me engaging the culture means to understand what is going on around you. What is happening in people's lives? What is consuming them. You could do this in many ways. You could watch TV, you could listen to talk radio, but these can cause issues in your life on their own. I find the best thing to do is to be out among people. If you are a volunteer and work full time this is probably not an issue. You may just have to readjust how you view each day and be more aware of people's thoughts, feelings, and outlook on life. If you work full time at a church you may have to make more of an effort to get out of the office and go be among what is actually happening in the world. Either way, make an effort to go engage the culture and see people's
In teaching adult bible study curriculum there is one more thing you need to take into consideration when considering how to meet the relational needs of your group. This is the stage of life that your group may be in. Depending on how your groups are divided this may be clear. For example, if you are broken down by ages your group may be called singles and under 30 which makes it pretty clear. Other times there may be more freedom for people to choose groups so yours may be more eclectic. You just need to get a feel and if need be find ways to more diverse in how you meet those relational needs. If your group is single those are things you can take into consideration as you plan events. If you have young married couples you may want to focus in your activities on helping them strengthen their marriage and getting to build relationships with other young married couples. If your group has kids that might change things. Also, if they are empty nesters or retirees that could change things. Regardless we need to realize that the stage of life effects the needs that the members of our groups have and we should adjust accordingly to meet those needs.
If you are teaching adult bible study curriculum and you have women in your group you need to realize that they have unique needs just like the men in your group do. If you are a man teaching the class you need to be especially aware of this. I encourage you to find a strong Christian woman to be in charge of this part of the ministry to your small group. This is for two reasons. One is because there will be better understanding and better connection in a woman to woman relationship. Two is to protect you. Strong feelings and bonds can be built in doing the type of ministry we are talking about so you want to be careful. As far as specifics the needs are much like men's needs in the sense that women need relationships and connections. They may just realize it a little easier. Also, do not be afraid to speak the truth in love. With men and women we may have a general understanding of our calling but may be half way doing things or possibly not doing them at all. So push and challenge the people in your group to live up to what God is calling them too.
As a guy, growing up hearing adult bible study curriculum lessons, I honestly got tired of hearing how men needed step up. Then I finally realized why. It wasn't that I did not want to step up it was that people were saying I should without giving me the opportunity to do so. Men have a desire in them to do something great. That just needs to be cultivated. One of the ways that happens is by having guys meet together. The biggest struggle I have found in this though is helping guys realize that this is what they need. Part of the battle is finding the common interest that guys have. I think many times we think we all want fellowship when really we want to get together and wrestle through the word. Another struggle is I believe many guys just want to be with their families and feel guilty leaving to go "hang out." This guilt can spring up for many reasons. But either way meeting the relational needs of men in your group is vital for it to grow and for their families or future families to stay strong. I think the key things to making this happen are giving them opportunities to step, giving them more than just fellowship, and selling the importance of this facet of their spiritual walk.
Your small group is about more than just teaching adult bible study curriculum. It is also about people getting the relational needs that they have met. God has called us to love Him first and then also to love people. He has said that it is not good for us to be alone. And most of us have figured out that we can not make it alone in life. We need community and accountability. You need to create opportunities for this to happen. Over the next couple of blogs we will discuss how to do this because there are different strategies depending on the age group you teach or if your group is single or married. Gender also plays a role in this. All I will say for today though to kick this mini series off is that the biggest thing is convincing people they have these needs. A lot of people will not get involved in anything else because they do not think they can afford to give up any more time. When in fact they can't afford not to be a part of this part of the ministry. You have to sell the importance of meeting together and the fact that the sacrifice of their time is worth it.
This blog is more for those of you that are in charge of choosing and adult bible study curriculum and running your adult bible study ministry. The tendency is to just let anybody who is willing to teach your small groups. This is probably because there is often a shortage of volunteers and people just want to accept anyone who is willing to serve. While I like this willingness to let anyone to be a part in the sense that we should not have a picture of the proper volunteer, this practice can be dangerous. This is especially true when it deals with finding teachers. You need to make sure that the people that you choose to teach understand scripture and believe in the same doctrine that your church does. Then if they do not you need to make a choice. Are they belief problems that can be corrected? Is it just a matter of terminology? Do they have a good heart and just a lack of training and education? If these are the problems then you might be able to train and nurture them and then allow them to teach. If these are not the case then you may need to consider having them serve somewhere or possibly leaving altogether until either they can be reached with the truth of the Gospel and/or see the truth and have a change of heart. Either way be careful of who will b e te
In teaching adult bible study curriculum I have found that there is a real spiritual battle going on. It seems that when things get toughest it might quite possibly be because you are onto something. This is not always true but more often than not I have discovered that when I begin to get frustrated and have to jump through hoops to do what I do, it is often because I am on the verge of truly reaching someone for the Gospel and the spiritual battle ensues. I want to encourage you to be sensitive to the spiritual battle that is going on around you. And one things get difficult and the emotions inside of you boil and rage I want you to consider that it might just be because you are on the verge of seeing someone's life changed for all eternity and there are forces in this world that do not want that to happen. They are making one last ditch effort to stop you. Do not let them. Battle. Go to war in prayer. Persevere and see the fight to the finish and see life change happen in your adult bible study group.
In teaching adult bible study curriculum we have talked many times about the importance of building community in your group. One of the great ways to do this are ice breakers. If you are not sure of what these are they are those little get to know you games that you might have to play at the beginning of trainings or seminars at work. They are of wonderful benefit because they are simple to plan and usually do not take much time to implement. They could be as simple as would you rather watch baseball or football. They get people talking though and give people an opportunity to begin attaching a name and some identifying things to people. They also begin to "break the ice" so that people can feel more comfortable discussing and opening up in class. If you are really a go getter you could come up with one that actually ties in with your lesson for the day. One word of caution. Many people cringe at the word "ice breaker." So if you are going to use these do not say that is what you are doing. Just jump into the activity and people will be much more inclined to
When you are teaching adult bible study curriculum or if you are leading an adult bible study ministry you are going to face some tough times. Groups might not grow. People may become disinterested. You may face a personal crisis. I want you to know this is natural. I also want you to know that I see these times as great times to wrestle with things. I think the wrestling is so important because you have to decide if this is just a time spent in the valley or if there is something you need to change. These changes could be small or they could be drastic. I honestly cannot tell you which. Each situation is unique. And to be honest sometimes no changes may need to be made it all. It may just be one of those times that you just have to push through. Regardless the wrestling time is necessary and worth it. In it your prayer times will be strengthened, your faith will be strengthened, and you will develop that ever needed perseverance.
I'm sure if you have been teaching adult bible study curriculum for long, or just reading the bible in general for long, you have come across the passage in Ecclesiastes that talks about how there is a season for everything. I am also sure that you have discovered this to be very true in your life. I also have found this to be true in many facets of my life. But lately I have seen it play out in its own way in smaller portions of what I do. For example, in my role as leader of my small group. I have set a goal for my self to read one book a week. I feel this is very important for my spiritual well being. But sometimes I can get too focused on this and miss out on what God is wanting me to do or what He is wanting to tell me. Some days He might rather me stop and pray. Other times He might want me to write. So I encourage you to be sensitive to this. Take time for things that will help you become a better teacher and leader, but do not get focused too much on one thing. Realize it is a hole range of practices that help us grow and do each of them in their time as God leads you.