Although he has gone to his reward, the ministry of Ira North enlightens us still. In his book “Balance, A Tried and Tested Formula for Church Growth,” he outlines a range of crucial factors involved in congregational development. He adopted one from a colleague, C.J. Garner, whose fifty plus years in ministry afforded him with an abundance of valuable insights into church life. North wrote, “One of C.J. Garner’s favorite expressions is, ‘as the Sunday School goes, so goes the congregation.’” My observation, after a mere twenty-five years in ministry, is that both of these heroes in the faith were right on target.
When talking with fellow-Christians who are joyfully serving God today, it is not unusual to learn that one of the most influential people in their lives was a childhood Bible class teacher. On the other hand, it is not unusual to discover that adults, who are wrestling with major issues in their lives, did not have the opportunity to learn the basic truths of God’s Word as young people.
One thing is certain, we need to instill into the hearts of our young people a love for God’s Word—for their own good as well as for the benefit of the church. One way of doing this is to foster a sense of loyalty to their Bible Classes. How do we teach our children and grandchildren to love their Bible classes? Let me suggest the following:
Be Prepared— Rushing around at the last minute, scolding your kids for not being ready, fussing at them to “hurry it up” all the way to the car… these are all things that reflect a lack of preparedness. They also make it very difficult for your children to want to attend class. Make plans ahead of time to attend Bible class; and, stick to those plans! Arrive early; instead of “on time.”
Be Enthusiastic— Your excitement about attending Bible class is contagious. Start there! Since you can never outgrow your need for spiritual nourishment and guidance, there is good reason to be enthusiastic about attending Bible class. Make sure you’ve got the “want to’s,” rather than the “have to’s.” Additionally, there are many practical ways of showing enthusiasm. Often, the best step to take is to be sure your child or grandchild has an age appropriate Bible for use in class. Encourage her take it to class every week. You can also show interest in your child’s studies by reviewing his or her take-home materials. You can help your grandchildren work on their memory verses. Whatever you do, be enthusiastic about Bible study.
Be Positive— It’s easy to develop the bad habit of destructive criticism. Exercise caution in the things you say, because they will likely take up permanent residency in your child’s heart. Don’t automatically criticize or blame the teacher or others if your child or grandchild says something negative about class. Never criticize your child’s teacher in his or her presence. If there are issues which need to be addressed, do so in person and in private. Remember, those who are teaching classes are motivated by love. They are, generally speaking, making significant sacrifices in order to do so. Encourage them by what you say and do. It’s amazing how much good a few kind words will do.
Be Prayerful— What happens in our children’s and grandchildren’s Bible classes has great bearing on the future of the church and the faithfulness of our children when they grow up. As goes the Bible School, so goes the church! So, please pray! Pray for the teachers, for the students, for everyone who has anything to do with our teaching program! Pray that God’s Word will be deeply rooted in the hearts of our children and grandchildren in order that each and every one might faithfully and fruitfully serve the Lord throughout all their days!
© Bill Williams
August 15, 2006