What Happens on Sunday…
I chuckled as I read the article. The author was describing sitting in his bible class. While, best I can tell, the writer wasn’t a member of the church, his description was familiar.
In the scenario, the bible class teacher was discussing a passage, dissecting it, adding historical facts, and providing interpretation. Participants were periodically interjecting with their interpretations and thoughts. Frequently, the class would go down rabbit trails, seemingly unrelated. Through all the exegesis, something was missing.
Finally, “Josh” spoke up. He, probably too provocatively, asked, “How is what we are talking about on Sunday going to help us on Monday?” There was silence.
The participant’s delivery could have been better. But he made a valid point. We naturally want to enhance our biblical knowledge and interpretation. Biblical discussion is important, but so is discussion on application. We should always ask, how do we apply what we are studying to our lives – today.
Don’t misunderstand. Lack of biblical knowledge is a path to destruction. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” But the rest of the verse says, “because you have rejected knowledge.”
So do we focus on “real-world” application enough? Consider the great commission in Matthew 28:19-20…
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them all that I commanded you; and, I am with you always even to the end of the age.”
Did you read it? Does it sound familiar? Is that what Jesus actually said? Or is something missing? That may be how we often interpret the Great Commission, but look again…
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I commanded you; and, I am with you always even to the end of the age.”
Did you catch the difference? We need to teach to obey (apply) God’s commands. Often, our approach to bible study is like the first quote.
We teach the bible, but do we take the next step and make application? If not, this is detrimental, especially for our children.
Jesus was God on earth. When He spoke, He was making scripture. I understand that. But have you ever wondered why He taught so often in human-relatable, real-world stories (“parables”). Why didn’t He just quote the Old Testament scriptures, explain they were about Him, tell what changes needed to be made in the kingdom, and then sacrifice Himself? He did that sometimes (e.g., Luke 24:27, 44-45). Jesus knew people needed examples to aid in their application.
Like me, you have probably heard, “just teach the scripture.” But that approach misses that sometimes people need more guidance to understand and apply (Acts 8:30-35).
Why does this matter so much? Again, we absolutely need biblical knowledge and interpretation. And we excel at that in the Lord’s church. So why do we still lose our children at alarming rates?
Some say it’s the devil’s world that is just too appealing. Others think it’s all the social programs, entertainment, music, and watered-down gospel of denominations.
There’s merit to those positions. But those “outside-focused” causes miss a key point that we can take action on. We lose our children if they don’t see how their faith is helping them navigate the challenges of life when they go out into the world.
We need to show them how God, the bible, and the church helps them navigate the trials of life like temptation, mental health, finances, discouragement, marriage, the daily grind, etc.
Yes, we need bible knowledge and interpretation! But how are we “teaching them to obey all that [Jesus] commanded” without discussion on application? Perhaps we follow the example of the way Jesus taught even more in our peaching and teaching to all ages.
Eventually, “Josh” made his point. The bible class teacher self-corrected by cutting off rabbit trails and trying his best to make application. That’s good. The church isn’t meant to be like Las Vegas. What happens in the church on Sunday is not meant to stay “in the church” on Monday.
Let’s equip our kids for the world before they face it. Then, when they do, they will find a faith worth hanging on to.