I was reflecting on my article "Talking Points to Theology" in the Baptist Messenger and that I have also posted on this blog and on Facebook when a thought occured to me. My Bible study teacher told our class last week that he had received a couple of comments from guests in our class, who were new to the area and looking for a church home, about the "depth of Bible knowledge" in our class and how it kind of intimidated them. I sort of shrugged it off, I've heard people in other churches tell me how they didn't care for a particular class because it was too "deep" for them and just figured they were not far along on their journey. Usually the complaint is about church members complaining that their class isn't deep enough!
I didn't think much of it at the time, but then I thought today: "Hmmmm, I'm not sure I've ever heard an unchurched person complain about spiritual depth in a Bible study class". The more I thought about it, the more I realized: every complaint about spiritual depth in a class I've ever heard of came from a church member. Shouldn't it be the other way around?
Now, I'm proud that my Sunday School class doesn't dumb it down to people who have been church members for 2-3 decades and think a little study about missions is too deep. I would feel differently if that complaint came from a person who was a new Christian or had not yet come into a relationship with Christ as Savior. But honestly, every new believer or God-seeker that I've ever had in Bible study enjoys (apparently) hearing and even participating in a Bible study with some content to it. I get asked often when I am leading training for teachers how to have more biblical depth in the class and I always give them two answers:
- Give every group or class member a study guide to what the class is studying;
- Bring unchurched people to the group. Unchurched people ask questions that most of us have never thought about.
So small group leaders and Bible study teachers of the world – take heart – and study that lesson and do not worry about "going deep".
And just an afterthought… for those of believers who are nervous about theological discussions. Seriously now
- It's the start of a new year. Get a Bible reading plan and follow it. NavPress has an excellent one;
- Get involved in some type of small group Bible study
- Get a copy of what is being taught and study it during the week