LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION COLUMN FOR
August 10, 2013 by William H. Scarle, Jr.
Finding adequate study material for church educators has always been a problem for me as a Pastor and now as a teacher in the congregation. Most of the commercially prepared Sunday School material is often dumbed down under the assumption that the volunteer teachers in a congregation are unwilling to give a lot of time to preparation or are predisposed to a more devotional approach. However, what suffers under such assumptions is the depth of the content in such study guides.
There is also the cost factor. Purchasing church School guides for teachers and pupils is expensive. The publishing houses need to sell a lot of material to stay in business, and for that reason often write the guides to satisfy the least common denominator.
Then there is the problem of the study program. Instead of leading their pupils through a book of the Bible, and eventually covering the entire Bible, the pattern is often hit and misses. The children learn Bible stories, but with no context or connection to the Bible as a whole. The older classes seem to follow the same pattern, taking a Bible passage for the week’s lesson, but not following through a whole book.
There is no doubt that a knowledge of the Bible is the indispensable foundation of a relationship with the God of the Bible. But the churches have not always done well in enabling their teachers to do an adequate job in their teaching program.
Of course the obvious answer to this is that teachers do their own research and prepare their own curriculum. The commentaries are available, many of the older ones on the web. However, it is not always easy for a lay teacher to know the difference between good information and bad information. Then there is the matter of understanding the historical context, the cultural context, the linguistic factors and a host of other data that would help a lay teacher present the precise meaning of a text.
Recently in my own teaching I have tried to prepare class notes for my students that they can carry home and review the study times with some accuracy. These study guides have been transferred to the congregation’s web site in order to make them accessible to any of the other teachers who may want to cover similar material. They can then serve as a launching pad for the development of a teachers own plan for their class’s study.
They are, of course, available to anyone who logs on to the congregation’s web site. It occurred to me that they might be useful to a larger audience. There are sixteen commentaries on books of the Bible and a selection of special studies on key biblical themes. You can access the library by logging on to <old.bayshorebaptistchurch.com>. At the top of the page you will see a menu which includes the tab called “ministries.” Click on this tab and another menu will come up that includes an item called Bible Studies. If you click on this the table of contents will appear that includes 23 different study guides.
All this material has been field tested. It has been useful to some. My only reason for writing this particular column is that it may be useful to others. Besides this, it is free.
(Bill Scarle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org). END-whs