How to (Re)Build Effective Teaching and Community in Your Class

Originally Posted on September 1, 2020

Webinar Transcript

– Alan, I’ll let you go ahead and get started. And again, man, thank you for being with us tonight and sharing with us. We appreciate it, good to have you.

– Yeah, thank you, Jamie. It’s always good to be with you folks in Alabama, faithfully leading in your churches there in Alabama. Great churches, my dad grew up down there in Auburn, Alabama. So I’ve got a lot of good relatives from the state. And so I have a good strong Alabama connection and I appreciate so much being able to be with you tonight, but more important than where I’m employed is the fact that I teach an adult Sunday school class in my church. Currently I’m teaching an empty nesters group. Before that, it was parents of college age adults. And so I’ve been teaching for about 24, 25 years, teaching an adult Sunday school class. And so, a lot of what we’re gonna be covering tonight are things that I do in my class and things that I have to remind myself on, especially as we’re moving through this COVID-19 pandemic and beginning to put a plan in place for gathering again and meeting back live in our Bible study groups. So let’s get started. I’m going to share a screen with a PowerPoint presentation that if you are taking notes, this, perhaps, will help you with that, as you’re able to kinda see what is on the screen as well as listen. But I call this Resetting Adult Sunday school because we’ve been meeting online. My class has been meeting every week using Zoom. We meet from 9:00 to 9:45, and even as our worship services have begun to start gathering again at our church, our Bible study groups are still meeting in a virtual capacity, but I’ve had like high attendance every week. And so, that’s been great that I’ve had more people attending week by week by Zoom than we did before COVID and you know, before we got locked down, but at some point we’re gonna go live again, at least in some format. And so, what are some things that we need to be reminded of and what are some things that we need to keep focused on as we’re starting a new church year, starting a new Sunday school year, that sort of thing? And so there are three roles that every adult Sunday school teacher needs to know, and needs to embrace. The first role that you and I, now I say you and I, because I’m an adult Sunday school teacher. So as I’m talking to you tonight, I’m mainly talking to myself. So this is a reminder to Alan, hat I need to be reminded that one role that I have as an adult Sunday school teacher at my church is that a teacher and the teacher guides the group to study and apply the Bible. A second role that I need to be reminded of and to embrace is the role of shepherd. So I’m not just a teacher, but I’m also the shepherd to my group and a shepherd guides the members of my class to connect in fellowship and connect in ministry. So I’m a teacher, I’m a shepherd, and I’m also a leader. My role as a leader is to guide the members of my class, the members of my Bible study group, the empty nesters at Hermitage Hills Baptist Church in Hermitage, Tennessee is to be on mission, fulfilling the mission that God has called our church to accomplish. So these are the three roles that you and I need to be reminded of and need to embrace. So let’s look at these and let’s drill down into each of these roles. That first one is teacher. A teacher guides the class to study and apply the Bible. The way that you and I need to look at this is that our role in leading the adults of our Bible study group is to guide the members into the word of God, to get them in the word, to get the word into them. So my job is not just to teach a lesson. It’s not just to move through a curriculum. My job is to guide the members of my class, into the word of God, that’s our textbook. And through that, to get the word into them because every week my goal is to see the members of my Bible study group become more like Christ as they think, and act like Christ so that every week there’s more of Christ within them and less of themselves. And so to do that, I’ve got to get them into the word of God. So if I’m doing this, I need to teach with excellence. And in teaching with excellence, there’s some things that I need to be reminded of. And the first thing I need to be reminded of is I’ve got to know what I’m teaching. The textbook is the word of God, the textbook is the Bible. Now I use a resource that is published by LifeWay Christian Resources called Explore the Bible. That’s my study plan. So right now, we’re working through the book of Proverbs. And so, but that’s not what I teach. I’m teaching the Bible and using the commentary and the teaching plan and Explore the Bible to help me communicate effectively with a variety of teaching styles the word of God. And so I’ve got to know the scripture. If I’m going to know the scripture, then I’ve got to be in the word so that the word is in me. So the neat thing, and one reason why I like to use Explore the Bible or Bible Studies for Life or the Gospel Project is because there’s so much robust helps that is available to me that I don’t have to generate the Bible study myself. Somebody’s already done the very hard work of generating the commentary and generating a teaching plan, but I still have to get into the word to get the word of God into me. So I need to know what the scripture is teaching before I move forward and teach my class. So first is I’ve got to know what I teach. I teach the Bible. Second of all, I need to know who I teach. I need to know the needs, the issues, the concerns of family members, as well as the members of my Bible study group. So I need to know what’s going on in their life. And my class, I teach a group of empty nesters, we’re sort of in that sandwich generation because a number of members of my class, including my wife and I were dealing with issues related to aging parents. And so, I need to know what else is going on in the members of our Bible study group. And so, I need what’s going on with their kids, where do they go to school? What are issues that they’re facing? So I need to know so that I can better apply the scripture to the needs and the issues that the members of my Bible study group are facing, so that as I’m taking that teaching plan, I’m customizing it to the needs of the members of my Bible study group. So I need to know who I teach. I need to know what I teach and the third, I need to know how to teach. I need to teach with a variety of teaching styles. Now because I’m using a resource by LifeWay that provides a teaching plan, the neat thing is that teaching plan incorporates a variety of teaching methods. And it’s important for you and I to be reminded that not everybody learns like you learn. I have to remind myself literally every week as I’m preparing my lesson, as I’m putting my teaching plan together, I have to remind myself, Alan, remember, not everybody learns like you do. Think of it this way. Talking does not equal teaching any more than listening equals learning because the members of your class are looking at you and nodding the heads up and down doesn’t mean that they are taking everything and applying it to their life. And so it’s important that we remember not everybody learns like we, you, like we learn. So we need to use a variety of teaching styles. The neat thing is those are provided for us. We just need to simply use them. Now, one thing that I need to be cautious of, and you need to be cautious of, is as we’re looking at a teaching plan and it says to do a particular activity for you and I not to basically put it to the side and go, oh, the members of my class won’t like that. What I’ve found is sometimes it’s those, those particular elements of a teaching plan that I didn’t think the members of my class would like or would enjoy that they actually enjoyed the most. So whatever it says, pretty much do. But you’re saying Alan, the teaching plan says, write this stuff on a whiteboard and do that. We have to modify it during this time, especially if we’re teaching online. And so we have to modify that. and so true, we can’t take everything during these days exactly like it is in print, but just recognize, we need to be able to ask questions. We need to be able to have the members of our class participate. That leads us to the next thing is to be reminded of, that circles are better than rows. Circles are better than rows, and especially in this COVID-19 time, when we’re looking at getting back, it’s gonna be important that we’re practicing social distancing, especially until there’s a vaccine. ‘Cause some people are just not gonna feel comfortable with that. And so, it’s gonna be important that we space out. It’s important that we wear a mask, and so, I know that’s somewhat controversial, but the way that I’ve expressed it to my Bible study group is, look at it this way. This is a way that I show my concern for others, that it’s not about me, it’s about others. It’s one way that I show how I love others as much as myself, and so I wear a mask. And so as we get into circles, it’s important that everybody can see each other and in a circle, it also would help us space out, to make sure that we have that distancing there, but rows always beat, excuse me, circles always beat rows, because when you’re in multiple rows, the people in the front cannot look at the people that are on the back row. And that leads to the next element is that as a teacher, we need to understand group dynamics, that there are small groups, midsize groups, and large groups. You say, Alan, what’s the definition of a small group? A small group is eight, you know, eight to 12. And then you can add a few more than that. And so if you wanna look at it, as Jesus had 12 disciples. So if you want to look at it as a small group is 12 plus or minus four. That would mean anywhere from running eight people on up to running 16 people would be classified as a small group. A mid-sized group would be once you creep up into 18 or 20, on up to about 40 that’s a mid-size group, anything above 40, 45 would be a large group. So the numbers aren’t in concrete, but you know it when you see it. Now it’s important that we understand the group dynamics because my room, when I put the people in a circle, then when I exceed the circle, that reminds me it’s time to start a new Bible study group. And so, the group dynamics help drive how I teach, it helps drive the discussion. There’s far more discussion takes place, what I have the members of my group in a circle than when I have them in rows. When I had them, my Sunday school class set up in rows, it tends to give the… at least the image that they’re here to sit and to listen to the person who’s in the front of the room talking. And so, I’m just here to be quiet and listen to what you tell me the Bible says, rather than being in a circle where we discuss the scripture and apply it to our life. You see, it’s important that we recognize that discipleship happens best in the context of relationships and relationships happen best in the context of smaller groups. So smaller is better. The bigger I get, the smaller I have to get. What I mean by that is as I grow larger, in other words, once I cease to run 12, 14, 16, get on up to 18 to 20, I have to get smaller. I need to start a new Bible study group. We’ll talk about how to get there later, but it’s important that I start a new Bible study group so that my class can remain at a level where we can have the dynamics and the relationships that are important with a group that runs, say, 18 or less. But when I say the bigger I get, the smaller I have to get, once I exceed 12 or 14, my teaching style has to change because if I’m running 14, 16, no more than that, I can ask a discussion question. Where do I get the discussion question? It comes right out of my book, out of my leader guide. I ask a discussion question. Anybody in the group can answer. There’s time for anybody who wants to, to be able to discuss it. Once I exceed 18, now I can no longer ask the entire group a discussion question. At that point, I have to then divide the larger group into smaller groups. So now we’re in buzz groups of three or four and no more than five people. And so I’ll say, okay, here’s a question I want you to think about. What I want you to do is circle up your chairs into groups of three or four. And I always say groups of three or four, because if I say three or four, a fifth person oftentimes will get added to the group. And that’s fine, I don’t mind any more than five. And here’s a question, in fact, turn to your, in your personal study guide, your member book, your quarterly, and you’ll see a question there on page 71. I just made that up. But on whatever page, there’s a question there, I want you to talk about it in your group of three or four. You’re gonna have three minutes to do that. Once I divide our group into groups of three or four, now everybody in the class is able to participate. So if I’m running 18 or 20, but now I dive it up into groups of three or four, now everybody is able to respond, everybody who wants to. One thing that that helps in getting smaller, one thing I’m going to let you in on a little tip. This is a, this is extra material here is I always ask husbands and wives to get on different groups. And it’s not a secret. They understand where I’m coming from. They understand perfectly why I don’t want husbands and wives in the same group. So I’ll say, I want us to discuss a few things here. In fact, so be turning in page 71 in your book, but let’s do this, let’s get into groups of three or four. Now, now, as you’re doing that, husbands and wives get on different groups. Now my class understands why I ask that, but periodically, especially if we have a guest or we have new members, I explain why, and it’s very simple. When husbands and wives are in the same group, one tends to talk and the other doesn’t. One tends to respond and the other doesn’t. It’s not always the wife and it’s not always the husband. Dependent upon the dynamics of the couple, one will talk, and the other won’t. Now go back to one of the first things I said, if the purpose of my teaching is to guide the members of my Bible study group into the word of God, to get the word of God into them, I want everybody to be able to respond. And so what the purpose is to get anybody who wants to respond to allow them the opportunity to do so, that is best gonna happen if I have husbands and wives in different groups. Now they’ll be able to come back later in the class. I mean, they’re in the same room. I’ve never had anybody, you know, give me a problem with that. They understand. I tell them why, and they’ll laugh about it. You know, I’ll say David and Deborah, y’all need to get in different groups, and you know why? Because David you’ll be talking, you won’t let Deborah get a word in edgewise. The whole class laughs, David and Deborah laugh. They understand that. And you know, but just let them know. So the bigger I get, the smaller I have to get. The bigger my class gets, once I exceed 18 to 20, I need to start a new Bible study group, having some leave my class to help facilitate the starting of the new group. And so any way you slice or dice it, the bigger I get, the smaller I have to get. Let’s look next at what I call my new metric. I think we need to look at what makes a good teacher differently. Sometimes, I’ve had people tell me, well, Alan, I must be a good teacher. Or their minister of education will say, this is a great teacher because they run 60 people in their Sunday school class, they have a big group. Well, that may not be the best way to judge whether a teacher is a good teacher. Now, they may be a good Bible teacher. They may be a good lecturer, but if you’re running 60 people, well, that’s like four different Sunday school classes right off the bat, easy, maybe more like five or six. And what’s happening is those 60 people are not talking very often. It would take a very skilled teacher to involve 60 people. Primarily, they’re sitting there and listening while the teacher is doing most of the teaching. But what if my metric was not how many people I get into my classroom? What if my metric was how many people are matured in the word? As I got the members of my group, into the word of God to get the word of God into them, what if my metric became how many people did I mature spiritually and send them out to start a new Bible study group? Think about that. So I tell the members of my class, especially about this time of year, when we’re looking at starting a new church year, I tell them some of you are sitting here right now that I hope are not sitting here a year from now. And what I mean by that is I hope that I have done my job of getting you into the word and getting the word into you, that you’ve been in my group now for three, four, or five years, that you’re ready to go out and teach somewhere in preschool, children’s, student, or start another adult class because guys, there’s only one place to get teachers for our churches’ preschool, children, student, and other adult classes. They’ve either gotta come out of my class or they gotta come out of your class. And so I want to mature people. I don’t want to send out immature believers. I want to send out mature believers. And so, how many people am I maturing and sending out to teach in our Sunday school organization? The second metric is how many new groups do I start? And so, you know, what if, at the end of the year that you started another new Sunday school class that came out of your class, and in addition to that, in addition to four or five people leaving with a person from your class to start this new class, but you also sent another four people left your class, two of them to teach in preschool and two of them to teach in children. Now you would be who I would call an effective teacher because you are helping your people understand that serving is one of the elements or one of the, you know, the representatives of a person who is maturing in their faith. It’s something that it’s kind of a signpost, if you will, of somebody maturing when they are leaving their class and going out to teach and mature other people. So how many new groups do you start? How many people do I send out? And that leads us to how we’re gonna start all these new groups. We’re gonna multiply ourself. You and I need to have an apprentice teacher. An apprentice is more than a substitute teacher. An apprentice is someone that you and I are preparing to be the person to either leave and start the new class that we just talked about starting, or that stays with the group that you’re teaching while you leave and take four or five or six people, and you go start the new class, but regardless, you want to leave your group with a trained teacher. And so, I know what you’re thinking. Some of you are going, Alan, you don’t understand, I can’t get people to volunteer. Well, let me put your mind at ease. I’ve never had anybody volunteer right off the bat to be an apprentice. In fact, when I asked somebody to be an apprentice, they’ll go, well, Alan, thank you very much, but I just don’t think that’s me. So I’ll say, well, I think you’re ready to mature. I think you’re ready to move to the next level. Would you just take a leader guide, take a teacher book and just follow along? Now, all of a sudden they’re finding out they’re thinking all that stuff I’m doing on Sunday morning, that I’m coming up with all that. And all of a sudden their eyes get real big, ’cause they’re looking in their leader guide and finding out, so that’s where he’s getting all that great material, it’s coming right here. Yes. If you simply do what I say, if you simply do what the book tells you to do, you can teach a pretty good lesson. Then you need to have the heart of a shepherd. And that’s what we’re transitioning to. You need to have a heart of a shepherd, but when it comes to teaching, if you simply do what the book tells you to do, you will teach a pretty good lesson. So let’s look at the second role that you and I need to embrace. So the first one is to embrace our role as teachers, especially as we’re looking at getting back live again, the second role that you and I need to embrace, it’s the role of shepherd. A shepherd guides the members of our Sunday school class to connect and fellowship in ministry. And so one way we need to do that is making sure that we’re contacting everybody on our ministry list. So we need to contact those people that are coming and saying, I’m so grateful that you’re a part of our class. You know, you encourage me every week. I appreciate how you, how you respond, excuse me. But it’s also important that we connect with people who have gone AWOL, people who are absent without leave, people that we just have not seen connect with us either online or even before. So we need to focus on absentees during this time, help encourage them to participate, especially if you’re still meeting in an online environment. You know, it, it really, you don’t even have to get dressed up. There are some people that are in my class online every week and they just don’t have their video turned on. Why don’t you turn on the video? Look, we just rolled out of bed 10 minutes ago. Well, great, I’m glad that you thought it important enough to just grab you a cup of coffee and connect in. So we’ll do without looking at you today, that’s fine. You can still participate, you can still ask questions. You can still respond to questions. I don’t have to look at you. So it’s really easy to participate. So we need to contact everybody on our ministry list. We need to build relationships through fellowships, because really, when you think about it, teaching doesn’t just take place in the classroom. A lot of times the relationships that I build did not take place in the classroom, but took place at a fellowship outside of the classroom, or took place somewhere else outside of the classroom. So that what happens on Sunday morning becomes an overflow of something else that took place during the week. And so remember that, you know, when we talk about discipleship happens best in the context of relationships. So it’s all about making disciples. So if we recognize that teaching doesn’t just take place in the classroom, that leads us to recognize that fellowships need to take place every month, every, you know, I said four to five weeks, maybe every six weeks or so, you need to do something as a class and it can be something as simple as hey, after church, let’s just go to this restaurant or hey, you know, let’s go to, drive-in movies are getting popular again. And so I don’t know if you have any of those where you are, but people have said, hey, let’s go down to the Watertown, Tennessee, to the Starlight Movie Theater. And so everybody kinda has their cars and their chairs and everybody’s out there socially distancing, and, but they’re just enjoying time together. And so we can have fellowships and use these fellowships as outreach events. In other words, use these fellowships to invite people to come say, hey, you know, we’re meeting with some other friends who I’d like to introduce you to. I think you’d really enjoy getting to know some of these friends of mine and we’ll come by and pick you up, you don’t have to bring anything. We’re bringing some food. Everybody’s gonna chip in on some things, but you don’t have to bring anything, you’re our guests. And what you find is that people enjoy being with other members of your class, and then it’s a lot easier to transition them into the class. So I’ve actually reached more people for class through fellowships than through other methods. And so use fellowships as outreach events. Now some of your fellowships can be planned. Those are the traditional, you know, it’s pass around a list, people sign up for whatever, it’s promoted, it’s set up, it’s on the calendar, wherever you’re gonna meet, that sort of thing. But some of them could be spontaneous. And our class has really enjoyed these spontaneous fellowships. A spontaneous fellowship is literally where somebody sends out a text that says, hey, my driveway, here’s one that our group did not too long ago. One of the members of our class opened up their driveway. They have a nice wide driveway, they’re in a subdivision and said, we got a big wide driveway. And so, you know, bring you a chair, bring your dinner. And we’re going to start meeting, if you’re interested, just show up around 5:30. And by the way, we’re gonna be making some homemade ice cream, and so whether anybody shows up or not, we’re going to have homemade ice cream, you know, in my driveway. And so, goodness, we had huge group who were able, everybody kinda brought their lawn chairs, brought their sports chairs. You know, some of them brought ham sandwiches they made, other people, you know, stopped by and picked up something from Burger King or, you know, a chicken place. They didn’t go to, ’cause it was a Sunday night, so they didn’t go to Chick-fil-A, we know that, but you know, Zaxby’s some other places, but they brought their food in, and so it was really, what I call low hanging fruit. It was simple to put on, but the people just enjoyed sitting around and talking to one another. We had not been together in a while. And then, of course, we enjoyed some homemade ice cream. That is what I call a spontaneous fellowship. It literally, somebody sent out a text message that Sunday afternoon. It can be simply that. A planned fellowship could be where you divide the class, people would volunteer to be a part of a table of eight that’s four couples, and those four couples meet once a month in the home of one of the other couples. And they sorta, you know, share, you know, I have it, my wife and I host this month. You and your spouse do next month, that sorta thing, and a table of eight, but it’s just, you’re able to, in that small group environment of three other couples to get to know members of your group deeper than you can, because the conversation is just you three and you don’t have to feel like, well, I need to get around and visit other members of my class. And so this is a time to go deeper with the members of your class. So use fellowships and connect with your people. So let’s look at this third role. So one role was that of teacher, one role was that of shepherd. Now let’s look at the role of leader. A leader guides your group to be on mission. Now the mission of your church is to make disciples. So the mission of your Sunday school class is to make disciples, because your Sunday school class is your church in microcosm. Your Sunday school class is simply your church organized to accomplish the great commission. And so, our mission in that is to reach people, to teach people, and to minister to people. So let’s look at how we can do ministry. So one of those ways is looking at doing ministry as outreach and fellowships. But even before that, we need to schedule multiple ministry projects. You could have ministry projects as simple as connecting with a widow or widower in your church and in the fall, or even spring going over and doing some yard work or doing some, you know, some easy maintenance around their house. You know, it could be doing a painting project at the church, our Sunday school classroom needs repainting. And so, we’re going to have pizza and paint. So we just show up, you know, one Saturday morning, and we start painting and then somebody runs out, grabs some pizza and we have lunch and finish up after that. And so all kinds of, we’ve done a Habitat for Humanity build, there’s all kinds of ministry projects that you can do, but schedule them, you know, put them on the calendar so you can kinda work toward them. You know, it could be our church has a ministry, kind of the, the food closet, the clothing room, that sort of thing. It’s called Radical Heart. And you know, our clothing room is a large room with everything organized. It’s like going to a, to a clothing store, you know, to like JC Penney’s or Kohl’s or something. It’s pretty large, it has lots of different items, food during this time, putting together food boxes and bringing them out to cars of people that have a need, we’ll volunteer as a class to do that. Here in Nashville during the winter, there’s Room in The Inn, and Room in The Inn is a, is where a number of churches of different faith partner with the Nashville Rescue Mission to take in homeless people at night and host them in your church. And so we volunteer for one, our church is assigned Wednesday nights, so we will pick them up, bring them to church and we’ll prepare dinner for them. And we’ll sit around and, you know, get to know them, hear their stories and share our testimony with them. We’ll usually show a movie like “Courageous,” or some other Christian film. And, and then there’s a shower facility at the church, allow them to, you know, time to take a shower and that sort of thing. And then we have these big blow up mattresses and we spend the night in the church. The next morning, other members of the class come in and cook breakfast for these men. And we provide them a sack lunch and stuff, so we provide all of that. Our class basically is assigned a week and we do everything from start to finish other than pick them up and bring them. And by the way, the men have to be back downtown by 7:00 AM. And so they’re leaving our church by 6:30 AM. So even the men that spend the night with them, they’re able to get to work by 8:00. That’s just one example, but schedule multiple ways of doing ministry. In your town, in your community, there’s things that can be done for the kingdom of God. These are great for both outreach and fellowship. Again, we’ve had people as we’ve invited our friends to participate in a mission project, they would say, well, how do you know these other people? Well, we’re in a Bible study group together. Well do y’all ever get together at other times? Yeah, as a matter of fact, we’re gonna be together in the morning, and can I come? Yeah, it’s amazing how many people you can reach through outreach, and so use your mission project as an outreach and a fellowship, as well as doing ministry. Now you can minister just with your Sunday school class, or you can combine with other groups. You said, well, I have a small class. We only run five or six. Well, there’s probably another class in your church that runs five or six. So the two of y’all work together on planning a project together. And so, you don’t even have to do it alone. You can can meet with other Bible study groups and do them together. You can also involve parents. So if you are, for example, you teach young adults or median age adults, then invite the teachers in the preschool department, so the teachers in the children’s department to join you, because the children of the members of your class are in their classes. And so it’s a good way for them to get to know you better and for you to get to know your child’s teacher better. And so, it’s great to involve parents or the teachers, but also to involve the parents, other parents in the preschool and children’s ministry to come along with you. And so, one thing that my wife and I experienced not too long ago, there is a park, as Jamie said, we’re coming to you live tonight from Mount Juliet, Tennessee. Well, Mount Juliet, Tennessee is where Charlie Daniels lives. He recently passed away, but his home is here and there’s a city park that is named for him, Charlie Daniels Park, everybody knows about it. And it’s a, you know, ball fields, lots of things there, a community center, and there’s a large playground area. And so our grandkids were down here from Kentucky. And so my wife and I took them out to Charlie Daniels Park and it’s, you know, getting hot. Well, there was a church, it wasn’t my church, but there was another church in Mount Juliet that it appeared to be a young adult church, had their preschool and children with them. And they were walking through that playground area, handing out water bottles and ice pops to the parents and to the children. And so for the children, the adults would say, or even some of the children would say, can I give an ice pop to your little boy? And now that eight year old didn’t know it, it’s my grandson just said, could I give, may I give an ice pop to your son? And I’ll, you know, smile and say, sure, absolutely. Thank you, that’s very kind of you. And so here were these parents of these churches, were just going around, handing out water bottles. And I thought, how cool was this? First of all, it was hot, and on behalf of the other parents and children that were there, they very much appreciated it, but this was a class that was out being the church, ministering and sharing. And so I immediately asked, what church are you from? And they gave the, the name of their church. It wasn’t a Southern Baptist Church, but I thought this is something my class needs to do, involving other people in coming out and just sharing. So it was a ministry project that they were involving their children in, because it’s nothing sweeter than to watch a five or six year old hand a water bottle or an ice pop to another five or six year old. That will just touch your heart. So when it comes to ministry, you can even think outside of just the members of your group, to where you’re involving other ministry groups, you’re involving the teachers and the preschool and children area, and you’re even involving other parents that are in other classes to join with you. And so it’s important that we, when we think about our ministry, especially in a time of reset, is that we need to focus on teaching. We need to focus on our role as shepherd of caring and having fellowships. And we need to focus on our role as leader and being active in ministry outside of the walls of our church. So I’m gonna open it up now to questions and Jamie, if you wanna to come back on, if you have any questions that are in the queue, we’ll go with that. Folks, let me say this. You don’t have to ask a question just about this presentation. Pretty much anything related to adult Sunday school is fair game. So anything we can help you with, this is your time.

– All right, this is your time folks, if you will, let me encourage you to put your questions in the Q&A box down there, and we will get Alan to either answer it, or, you know, we’ll all work at it there, but thank you, Alan. That is very, very good information. I was sitting here taking notes myself, as you were sharing and you know, I find that, so often, we as teachers, we have different strengths. And so, we will only focus on one or two of these. You mentioned the three roles of teaching and shepherding and leading. And there’s a balance there, I guess it’s like a three legged stool isn’t it? And it’s challenging to, to remind ourselves, to get our mind around that, that we need to do all of those as a teacher. You’re not just a dispenser of information there.

– Yes, yes. Well, Jamie looks like we have a good question here from Michael Brooks, asked a great question. He says, “How are you specifically thinking of reopening? “Some are talking about spaced out and staggered schedules. “Are you thinking along this line?” Well, primarily what I’m looking at is a either/or, is a both/and, not an either/or, but a both/and. So one is, I’m thinking about having my laptop in the classroom with me, having the chairs spaced out, asking the members of my class, if you would be so kind as bringing your mask, there’s actually a mandate in Nashville. Our church is in Davidson County, which is Nashville. And so let’s do that. But for those that still don’t feel comfortable to come live, they can still participate via Zoom. And so, so we’ll have it on what I call a both/and. Now we’re also looking at having additional space so that if my room with the chairs spaced out in circles will only hold about, let’s say 10 people, where the first 10 people in the room get a chair there, there’s another room that I would be assigned that would have chairs in it. And so, anybody after the 10 would go to that room and that’s where it’s important to have an apprentice. So my apprentice is gonna be in that room. They will be connected via Zoom. And so, whether they’re using their iPad, whether they’re bringing a laptop, whether they’re using a phone, the thing with Zoom is your phone works perfectly fine. And every member of my class has a phone, and at least has a smartphone. And so we don’t need to have a big monitor on the wall. They’re just looking at it that way and participating live. And so, when I move to a discussion time, then I’ll have the members in my room talk, but then I’ll mute and let the members in the other room discuss the question as well. And I’ll say, you’ll have two minutes and you know, two minutes then I unmute and we come back. And so it’s important that we offer multitude. We’re having multitudes of worship services, because to do the social distancing, my church is having, went from one service to two and is now adding a third so that people feel comfortable. As you do that, people are going to begin getting more comfortable to say, hey, I’d rather come to this earlier worship service. Can we move our Bible study group to another time? And so that would be, I guess, Michael, would be under that staggered schedule with that because the worship services have an hour between each one for cleaning, sanitizing, that sort of thing. But-

– Hey, Alan, also, could you continue Zooming for those class members that, even though you reopen, you may have some class members that are not quite, you know, feel comfortable coming back. And so maybe you could continue the Zooming and the Zoom live naturally, and let them, the rest of them that could participate and things of this nature, you can put them up on the screen and things like that, could be good.

– Yeah. And I’m thinking of even having Zoom in the live class. So it’s not just live, but my laptop’s there. It’s sitting on a chair in front of me. I mean, with technology, you know, you don’t need fancy stuff, you know, drop this laptop that I’m on right now, in a chair in front of me. We’re going, I’m looking at, at six members of my class, that’s out there on Zoom, and I’m looking at 10 other people in the room and I’ve got another six people in another room. And so, it’s… What you have to do, we’re not going back right away to business as usual.

– Correct.

– And so you gotta think outside the box. Nobody’s ever done this before, there is no precedent. And so think about doing a both/and. It could be that you continue some classes, if you want to participate in a class, well, Jim Bledsoe is a great teacher, you can join, you know, that’s a Zoom class. And so it’s sort of like for an interim time, you leave my class and you become, you get into his class ’cause he is only on Zoom. We can have Zoom, a Zoom class that meets other times during the week. It can meet Sunday evening at five o’clock instead of Sunday morning. And so, yes, don’t think one way, when is it that you can meet? Ask the people of your Bible study group, when is it that most of y’all can meet? You may be surprised. They might say, I’d rather meet on Sunday nights at five o’clock.

– Yeah.

– Great, let’s do that. So we’ll have worship that morning. We’ll be online at Zoom or we’ll be in a classroom in Zoom at five o’clock. So what you have to do, there is no right way to do it. There’s multiple ways, and if you start saying every way, if it works, it’s a right way. So just don’t think, oh, we’re going back live, so therefore we’re gonna turn off the Zoom. I don’t think we’re going to be doing that anytime soon, not in the next couple of years.

– Right, right. Well, Gregory asked another question, asked a question here. He said, “You mentioned using circles instead of rows “in your classes, are you thinking one circle “or circles within a circle?”

– Okay, great, great question, Gregory. I’m talking about one big circle that literally goes all the way around the walls of the room, because a circle within a circle basically becomes rows. Functionally, it sort of acts like rows. And so I, you know, tell my members, now we started this new class last fall. Empty nesters came out of parents of college age adults. And so we’re in a circle and I told them, folks, when we’re getting close to filling up every chair in the circle, that is a reminder to us, it’s time to start a new group. And so, just get ready. And so… And so, just let them know. What I have found, Gregory, is that when they see each other, they talk more. When I have them in rows, they talk less and you know, you may have one or two people that they’re just gonna talk, but for the most part, there is better discussion in the circle than in the rows. And so, if you think of it that way, and doing that by keeping my class kinda in that smaller way, that helps now in the social distancing. So with social distancing, I may have to temporarily go to rows, to space everybody out, but having the smaller group allows that to happen, where if I was running 35 before, no way could I get 35 that fit in that classroom before. I can’t get 35 in there anymore, not with social distancing. So I’m messed up. You know, I need like three classrooms. Well, are there three extra classrooms for me to use? Probably not. So now I’ve got other issues. So it’s a good question. Michael comes back, “Under normal times, “do you ask your apprentice to teach on a regular basis?” Excuse me, I apologize for that. “Once a month or two or the like?” Yeah, starting out for like the first three, four, five months, I just want him to read along in the book, just read along in the book, and then after class, we sort of debrief, as we’re sort of picking up the coffee cups that people don’t throw in the trashcan and you know, but I’m not bitter about that. And, and, you know, cleaning up, wiping off the white board and stuff. David might say, David was one of my apprentices, he might say, well, how come you skipped? You went to here and you skipped to that. I said, that’s a great question. But remember we broke up into groups and we had this discussion, well, in my mind, I thought that was gonna take just like two minutes. But the class was really into the discussion. And as a teacher, I now have to gauge, is it more important to allow them to continue to discuss these very robust questions? Or do I cut it off and move on? I chose to let the discussion continue. Therefore, because I have a hard ending, you know, we have to leave like when the bell rings kinda thing, so I have a hard ending. So therefore, I had to adjust the teaching plan on the fly and go from this point, skip the third one and go to appropriately wrap it up. And so, those type discussions take place for the first three or four months. And at that point, then I’ll allow him to start teaching. Now before he teaches, I’ll ease him into it. So it’s like, okay, when I break them up into groups, I want you to facilitate this group or it could be, I’m gonna, I want you to look at that second point, that second passage of scriptures, I want you to prepare to do what the teacher book says for you to do just on that second point. So I’m gonna get the class started, I’m gonna teach the first point, and then I’m gonna say Mike, it’s time, Mike would you lead us in this next passage of scripture? Mike picks up the ball, Mike Loftus is a second. I have actually have three apprentices. He’s another one of mine. So Mike would then pick up, pretty much go through that second point. And then it comes back to me, I’ll wrap it up. So I sorta let him ease into it. Whenever the apprentice teaches, it’s important that you’re there, and it’s there because you’re there to encourage, you’re there for him to see, you’re there to lift him up. You’re there to say, hey, it’s great, I’m sitting here in part of the circle, Mike’s leading us, you know, Mike’s one of our apprentices, and at some point we’re gonna start another group and you’re gonna have the privilege of going with Mike to help start this group, or to stay here with Mike while I leave and go start a new group. We haven’t figured that one out yet, but one of us is leaving to start a new group. And so Mike, you have the ball, you have the class today. I’m looking forward, too, and it’s important, Michael, that we encourage the apprentice in front of others. For me to say, I’m excited about how Mike is gonna guide us in the scripture today, Mike’s, thank you so much for your preparation. I know your prayed up. Let’s get into the Bible study today. Thank you for leading us. And so, the members of the group see me affirming my apprentice, and then, after about six months or so, six, seven months, now I try to work him in about every four to five weeks. So it ends up, bottom line, being about every five weeks I have one of the apprentices teaching and go from there. So, yeah, and I’m able to affirm that, as I’m sending out my Zoom link, I’ll say like, Mike, one of the apprentices is gonna be teaching this week. Hey guys, this week we’re continuing in Proverbs. I’m looking forward to hearing Mike, Mike Loftus is gonna be leading us this week. And I’m looking forward to how Mike’s gonna lead us into this passage this week. Y’all be praying for Mike as he prepares our Bible study. Here’s our Zoom link, we’ll be live at 9:00. So that’s a way of help encouraging. Phyllis.

– See Phyllis’ question there. It says, “I’ve not had any success at getting “a substitute teacher, much less an apprentice.” Oh, Phyllis, I understand. She said, “Do you have any suggestions “of how I can do that?”

– Right, Phyllis, I feel your pain. Let me encourage you with this. I’ve been, you know, been teaching at Hermitage Hills Baptist Church well over 20 years, we were at another church in Hermitage before we moved to Hermitage Hills, was teaching there. I have never, ever, in all the years of my teaching, when I approached the person to say, “I want you to be my apprentice,” I’ve never had a single person say, well, Alan, thank you very much, I’m honored that you would think I’m ready for that. Sure, I’ll be glad to be your apprentice. Here is the answer, Phyllis, that I hear every single time. Let me pray about it. Now, when they say, let me pray about it, here’s what they’re telling me. There is no way I’m going to be your apprentice.

– That’s right.

– There’s no way. And Phyllis, this actually happens because once I ask, this happened with Mike, this happened with David, David Green, this happened, you know, with other people, that, with Steve, who was my apprentice, with Julie. I’ve had ladies who were apprentices and have left the class to go teach ladies classes. And so here’s the answer that, here’s what they do after I ask them and they said, well, let me pray about it. They’ll come in late and then they’ll leave early, so I can’t talk to them during class. Well, I know where they sit in worship, ’cause don’t everybody sit in the same pew every week? So I’ll go in the worship center. I said, well, I’m gonna find them there. And I look all around where they usually sit, they’re not there, and later on in the service, you know, in that what I call the shake and howdy doody time, where it’s like shake hands with five people, I don’t think that’s going to happen anymore, at least not for awhile, but I’ll turn around and I’ll see them up there in the balcony. I say, what are they doing up there? They’re dodging me, and so, it’ll take me two or three weeks, you know, they don’t return my phone calls, they don’t return a text, they don’t return an email, I said, they’re dodging me. So finally, I’ll finally get them, it’ll take a couple of weeks and I’ll say, Hey, you wanted to pray about being my apprentice. I’m ready to get going with you. And they’ll say, well, Alan, I appreciate it so much, but I just don’t think this is for me. So Phyllis, here is my response. I say, I’ll tell you what, I respect that. But I’ll tell you what. I still think that you’re ready to take the next level. So let me give you a leader guide, and I’ll place a leader guide. Let me give you a leader guide. Here’s all I want you to do, just from now, till Thanksgiving, because now it’s like the first part of August, middle of August, end of August when I’m having this conversation, I’ll say from now to Thanksgiving, would you just read along in the teacher book? That’s all I’m asking you to do. And just read along and we’ll talk a little bit about the lesson at the end of each day and they’ll go, well, you see they’re kinda rolling around, they’re sort of thinking, kinda doing the calculating, well, you know, Thanksgiving, it’s August, it’ll be September, October, you know, Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. They go, okay, I’ll do it. I’ll read along till Thanksgiving. And so all of a sudden, literally they find out that all those great questions I come up with are coming out of the book. They find out that all that great commentary that I’m talking about is coming out of the book, that by the time I give them an Explore the Bible Leader Guide and a commentary, the Explore the Bible Commentary, there is more than they can say grace over. And all of a sudden their class, you know, they start asking me, well, why’d you do this? How do you do that? And so Phyllis, the neat thing is I’ve never had the followup conversation. Thanksgiving will come and go and they just sorta continue, ’cause I haven’t done anything but ask them to follow along. And then, after class to just, as I’m wiping off the white board and that sort of thing to just let’s dialogue about the class, and you know, sometimes it may be, did you see how so and so was dominating the class? How did I handle a person who was dominating the discussion? Well, you broke us up into groups of three or four. Yes, I was going to keep us all together, but once I saw that a particular member was dominating every time I ask a question, I needed to change, so sometimes as a teacher, we’ve got to call an audible. It’s just like in football, that quarterback gets up in line and sees a defensive structure that he wasn’t planning on, he changes the play at the line of scrimmage. Sometimes I have to do that as a teacher. Now I’m still gonna ask the same question, but the way that I’m gonna do that, instead of asking everybody, I’m gonna say, Hey guys, let’s huddle up, get into groups of three or four, y’all know the drill, spouses on different groups and go on, go ahead, circle up your chairs, I’ve got the question ready, here it comes. All right, everybody, and then I’ll ask the question. And now, everybody else can be able to respond. And so they’re picking up tidbits about how to be the teacher a tidbit at a time, rather than them sitting down and me trying to give them a four week course on how to be an adult Sunday school teacher. They literally pick it up a little bit along the way. And so.

– And I think that’s something that I’ve seen is that very few people are willing to go from Joe Sunday school pew sitter to Joe Sunday school teacher. They’ve gotta take these baby steps, you know, to not teach a whole lesson. You may ask them, somebody that you feel like is a potential teacher down the road, pull them in and ask them, hey, would you take this part of the scripture and read the commentary on this and be ready Sunday morning to talk about this with us, while I’m getting ready for my next part of the lesson? And you know, would you be be there? Would you be willing to do that? I’m in the room with you. I’m not leaving you all alone there.

– Right, right, that’s what’s important, that they understand that they’re getting the support from you. And that’s why it is so important that when they’re teaching the first few times that you’re in the room, that they don’t get the impression, oh, he just wants me to be the substitute teacher. ‘Cause every time he asks me to teach, he’s out of town. I do the opposite. I make sure that I’m there when they’re teaching and I’ll get somebody else to teach when I’m not.

– Yeah, wow. Okay, you see, we have an anonymous attendee here with a question. It says, “Some have said a successful back to school “and/or a vaccine will get us past these restrictions. “What is your thinking? “I know you don’t have a crystal ball, “but we’re all struggling with, with the COVID.”

– Yes. That, you know, that was our thinking back in the, I would say in the spring, that we were thinking by the fall that this bug had been squashed and once schools get back in session, I can’t speak to where you are in Alabama, but around here, I’m in Wilson County, which is the county east of Davidson, which is Nashville. Wilson County was supposed to have started Monday. They kicked the ball down the road two more weeks to open. Davidson County was planning on allowing parents to choose whether they wanted their students to be in an online classroom for the first semester, or live for the first semester. Davidson County changed that a few weeks ago to where until Labor Day, everybody, every class is online. And so, the school systems are having to change as they go. And so, I’m thinking as worship services start meeting again, some people may begin to get more comfortable coming. I think it would be, to be on the safe side until there’s a vaccine that we practice the social distancing, and that we wear a mask because what we have seen in other churches across our convention is that some churches have become breeding grounds for the virus. This Mike that I just mentioned, my apprentice teacher, his parents live in a small town of Sparta, Tennessee, which is a very, very small community, little country church, they went to worship service. And Mike said, when they went, there wasn’t a soul wearing a mask. And so his 82 year old parents came down with COVID. And so now that’s a, you know, it was a big ordeal. He’s in the hospital, the father’s in the hospital. The mother is asymptomatic. It just, out of that church, about half of the church ended up with COVID. That was just one sort of close to home example with that. I think it is possible to start easing into it, if you can space out with the chairs, I mean, people go to Lowe’s, I don’t know what your Lowe’s and Home Depot in Alabama look like, but around here, there’s lots of people, lots of people in Walmart, they’re in the grocery stores, but for the most part, they’re wearing a mask. And so, I think we can meet in Sunday school. Wear a mask, have your chairs spaced out and just be smart. Do it both online with Zoom and live in the classroom. Start easing it in. Again, it’s on a church by church basis. Our church is having worship, but again, it’s looking at starting in thirds so that when people come they’re well spaced out. We’re haven’t been given a time on when we’re going back live for Bible study groups.

– Well, I think, we also need to know our contacts, our community. In Alabama, we have some hotspots. Well, you know, if your church is in one of those hotspots, I don’t think you need to be thinking about small groups right now coming together. Now, if you’re in one of those rural areas that is not, and of course we have rural areas that are hotspots and rural areas that are not hotspots. So just because you’re in a rural area, doesn’t mean you’re not in a hotspot, but if you’re in a hotspot, I’m just not sure that it’d be wise right now, and that’s what we’re hearing is that people are trying to be aware of where, the context of their church before they look at reopening like this.

– Yes, there’s one, Jamie, at our church at Hermitage Hills, Andy Miller, who’s over our Sunday school at our church, was identified, it’s a men’s Sunday school class. And I would say this men’s class is mostly men in their 40s to early 60s. He said, they’d been meeting in the lower parking lot. So if you’re at Hermitage Hills Baptist Church, the clue there is it’s on a hill, and so there’s a lower parking lot kinda down the hill, if you will, and he says, they’ve been meeting since the spring time Sunday afternoons, if it’s not raining Sunday afternoons at five o’clock, they’ve been meeting in the lower parking lot and they just all get out their sports chairs and they put them in a big, old, gigantic circle. They got a parking lot to deal with. And the way the trees are, it’s sort of a shaded area and where the sun is at that time, he says they’ve been meeting every week down in that lower parking lot. I never thought about that, but you know what? You can get creative. So here’s a group that’s been meeting live during this whole time, but they were smart about it. They met in a location away from other people, they spaced out and they were just, you know, were smart about how they did it, so.

– Okay.

– Get back.

– Yeah, let me encourage you, folks, if you’ve got a question you would like for Alan or us to talk about tonight, please put it in the Q&A box and we’ll try to answer your questions best we can here. I love the anonymous said, “I know you don’t have a crystal ball.” That is very true. These are times that, as Alan said earlier, we’ve not experienced this before, we’re going down a road right now that none of us have been been down, so we’re all going through it together. And we will get through it on the other side, I think our churches are going to be, I believe they’re gonna be stronger, different, but stronger through this. It’s going to force us to think outside the box, work outside the box. I love what I heard one pastor tell me the other day. He said, you know, instead of going to church, we’re as a church, having to learn how to be the church. And so, I think this is one of the things that we’re doing. Instead of going to Sunday school, we’ve got to figure out a way to be the Sunday school. And that’s where I loved what you talked about in the area of the shepherding there, that, of leading, Alan, leading your class to minister to one another, those that come, those that don’t come, and those that would fit into that category. It’s a great time to keep up with them and just say, hey, how can we pray for you? Got a kind of a side story to tell you that kind of relates to that. You know, work at the state board of missions as one of our state missionaries. And we’ve been calling pastors around the state for the last three months, and, and in the beginning, the pastors were very skeptical about us calling because normally when somebody calls, what do you, you want something, right? Well, after calling these guys, making rounds and rounds and rounds of calling them, they’re beginning to realize, you know, they’re just calling me to see how they can pray for me and they are opening up. And it’s really been amazing to talk to some of these pastors, three months ago, and then to talk to them again this week. And it’s really great to see how that they are realizing we don’t want something, we want to give something, give them a word of encouragement. And our Sunday school classes right now, since many of us can’t meet in person boy, we can keep up with one another. Call each other, text one another, say, hey, John, James, Sam, whoever, how can I pray for you? You know, that speaks volumes both of what God’s word is about, and you know, what we are about as a Sunday school. So.

– Right. That the thing is to connect with people and let them know that you care, find out what they need, those sort of things, so. Yes, I talk with Christian educators all across the country every week. Nobody has it figured out. So understand here’s how you’re gonna be successful. You’re gonna have to come up with a plan filtered through the context of the culture of your church. And so, you know, as I said, there’s no wrong way. The only wrong way is just not doing anything.

– Right.

– But do a combination of Zoom live, Zoom only, meet in parking lots, meet in people’s front yards. I mean, you know, you can’t do that in the middle of December, unless you’re down on the Gulf Coast, I guess the weather is sometimes well, is sometimes warm enough with a jacket, but during this time, most people got a front yard. People can, or backyard, they could get in space out and do. And so, as Jamie said, it’s time for the church to be the church and not be confined to a particular building.

– Yeah, right. Okay, folks, you know, we still have about 15 minutes, If you have questions. If you don’t have questions, you know, I’m assuming your questions are answered and we’re not gonna keep you any longer than you have questions. Alan is here, and we’re so thankful for that. But so please, if you’ve got a question, we’ll give you just a moment here to ask, and then if not Alan, we’re gonna have prayer in a minute and let everybody go. But man, I appreciate you being with us tonight. And while folks are thinking, let me encourage you and remind you again, folks, I believe, if, well, I know these webinars are being recorded and you can go, it will take us a little bit of time to edit them and get them back out there. But you can go online to see them, watch them again. You can go to pinnaclealabama.org, pinnaclealabama.org, and then you see a file of all of the webinars that have taken place. And then you’ll see those that are yet to take place. So please go and, and look at that. Alan, do we have a question here?

– No, it’s Gregory just saying thank you.

– Okay, all right, all right. Good enough.

– Let’s see. Am I missing anybody? I’m looking to make sure we got all of your answers. We don’t want to leave without anything.

– Let’s get over in the chat, Doug has placed for us where you can download, and look at these videos, you go to Vimeo or to Pinnacle Alabama and view these. So please let me encourage you, folks, to do that in the future here. Let’s see, this is Thursday night. So let me remind you that Saturday morning, we will be having another webinar from 8:30 to 10:00, Liz Sherrer from Oklahoma, another practitioner, she is a conference leader, trainer, but also a Sunday school teacher. She is the wife of Dr. Joe Sherrer, of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, but she’ll be leading a seminar for us on Saturday morning at 8:30 till 10 o’clock. So let us, let me invite you to sign on and be a part of that. And then, we’re gonna have a panel discussion. Alan is going to be back with a Sunday afternoon, along with Liz, along with John Thomas and Joe Sherrer. Sunday afternoon, Joe will present some material. And then after that, there will be a Q&A time. So that’ll be Sunday afternoon from 2:00 till 3:30. So let us invite you to be a part of that and share this with others, as well. So we’re looking forward to our time together on Sunday afternoon. Alan, I appreciate your willingness to be back with us, as well. Okay, I see you have a question here. You wanna answer that question, Alan?

– Let’s see. “Alan, do you think it’s good for Sunday school “to use the same series? “Explore the Bible, Bible Studies for Life, “or does it matter what individual classes do?”

– Is that a trick question?

– No, no. Do I think it’s good for the entire… Let me make sure I understand your question, for the entire church, in other words, every, all the classes to use a particular Sunday school line?

– That’s the way I read that question.

– Okay, okay, just wanna make sure I’m answering it right. In a best practice, a best practice, that would be a good way to go. One, it makes sure that everybody is on the same page. Everybody is kind of being, having the same lesson, if you will. It’s cheaper for the church because no longer do they have to order materials just for this class, and just for this other class that’s using something different. If one has extra material that can go be used when another class runs out, that sort of thing. And the way that LifeWay has aligned things so that it makes it easier for even preschool, children and students to be aligned on that. Now that’s the best, that is, you know-

– The ideal.

– Ideal. Now, the way that I look at it as a Christian educator is I give, because I’m coming into a church, I’m about to go on staff at a church where different classes are using different material. And so, it’s gonna take me a little while to get them transitioned all to one particular curriculum line. So to start with, as long as they are using either Bible Studies for Life, Gospel Project Chronological, or Explore the Bible and it’s not so much it’s, they have to buy from LifeWay. It’s not just a LifeWay thing. Here’s the way I look at it. They say, well, why does it have to come from LifeWay? It doesn’t have to come from LifeWay, but it has to be trustworthy. It has to be consistent with the Baptist faith and message, because my role as the Christian educator at your church is to protect the sheep. And part of that role means to make sure that the Bible study groups are using trustworthy material, and that uses a variety of teaching styles, that there’s a study plan. So I don’t call it a curriculum line. I call it a study plan. One study plan goes through every book of the Bible, covering every genre, every three years, over nine years, you’re covering every book in the Bible. Another study plan covers Genesis to Revelation and does it chronologically and covers the entire Bible in three years. Another one looks at different topical issues that come up, and so the way that I address it is, is pick which, kind of which pathway that you want your group to go down. Now, LifeWay’s done the heavy work for me. It is theologically, every lesson has to go through a theologically, an independent theological reader who is not an employee of LifeWay. Who are these people? They’re pastors at churches. They are seminary professors. They are lay people that are just, you know, pretty deep in the word and can verify that everything that has been written and edited is consistent with the Baptist faith and message. So somebody has done the hard work for me. Second of all, each of these study plans uses a variety of teaching methods. So I don’t have to go in and rewrite the material. It’s already done for me. Commentary is already prepared for my teachers, so they don’t have to be Bible scholars. That’s what chases off a lot of teachers. No, you want me to be apprentice? I don’t want to be a teacher. I don’t have the time to dig into scripture like you do. Well, if they knew, if you’re able to say, well, I don’t have time to dig into commentaries and all that myself. I’m provided by my church the material and I simple use it. So I’m provided the commentary that I need to know that goes along with our scripture passage. And so that’s why it’s important that you use trustworthy material. And if there’s another publisher comes out there that produces material that is consistent with the Baptist faith and message, as a Christian educator, not an employee of LifeWay, I will give it a look, I will give it a fair shake. But so far, there’s only one publisher who produces resources that are trustworthy, and that I know are going to provide a balance of scripture and are going to be faithful to the Baptist faith and message. And my people can depend upon that and I can trust that. So I hope that helps. So the short answer is, in a perfect world, to get everybody on Bible Studies for Life, or everybody on Explore the Bible, that’s the perfect world, but if you can get them there, Joe Sherrer, who’s going to be teaching, that Jamie just talked about, he was, when he went as a minister of education at a church in Oklahoma. First Del City, Oklahoma, he, it took him a while, but he transitioned every adult class to Explore the Bible. And so it can be done, but it just takes a little while to get there so that your people don’t go kicking and screaming. You want everybody-

– You have to do a lot… You have to do a lot of working with with your leadership on that in training and equipping and what you just shared, I think is exactly right. You can’t just walk in there, even if you are the Christian educator and say, okay, folks, you’re gonna do this because they are volunteers.

– Yes.

– And you have to show them and give them the why you wanna do this, not just what you wanna do. So I think that’s important.

– Yes. Good counsel, hope that helps.

– All right, folks. We’re, I see we’re out of questions and we’re just about out of time here. We’ve got about five minutes, but again, I wanna to say thank you, Phyllis, Greg, Michael, for hanging in to the bitter end with us, and I guess anonymous, whoever you are out there. So we thank you for being a part of this, and Alan, and thank you for the words of encouragement here tonight and great instruction. I know we will be able to, many folks will be able to use this for days and maybe even years to come, okay?

– Good.

– So thank you for being with us folks, thank you. Let us pause and just have a quick word of prayer. May we do that? Father, thank you for these faithful servants of yours that are seeking to be the best they can be for you. Lord, I pray that you will bless their lives, bless their families, bless their service to you. And again, Father, thank you for what we’ve heard tonight. Thank you for Alan’s heart, of sharing the wealth of information that he has. Would you bless, encourage him and his family as well? For all of these things we pray and ask in the precious name of Jesus, our Savior. Amen.

– Amen.

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