I became a better photographer when automatic focus cameras became common. Now, sometimes, I can slowly squeeze the shutter on my
camera and my photograph is going to be focused on something. Unfortunately, auto focus is not available in a Sunday School class! You see, sometimes the background of my
photograph or even the subject of my picture is still out-of-focus when auto-focus picked up the wrong point! Likewise, some still insist that a Bible teacher’s priority task is to focus on the next lesson. Certainly, a great Bible teacher will be prepared for the next session but making genuine disciples requires a clear picture of a process!
There has been a lot written about ‘the power of Sunday School’ in recent years. Most reading this blog would agree that a church’s Bible study ministry has tremendous potential for Kingdom building. There has also been a lot written about the essential need for focus with a clear or compelling vision within the leadership of the local church. But…… no doubt you are aware of teachers that simply look ahead to the next lesson or are only focused on fellowship with those who may attend and are actually “out-of-focus” when it comes to scripture. Paul wrote, “If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal.” Philippians 2:1-2 HCS. Paul wanted his learners to focus on the big picture and to believe that they, in fact, could capture it! Under your leadership, your group can be passionately focused on the bigger picture!
The priority of a Spirit-filled Bible teacher is to set a picture of God’s best for the class, then guide the team of learners to maintain that clear and compelling focus. So, a focused Bible leader will personally sight in on God’s purpose for that small group and consistently point the group toward it! That focus should include what we refer to as the three R‘s; Reaching people for Christ, Releasing people to serve, and Reproducing itself for Kingdom impact. Now that is powerful!
Sure, quality Bible teaching demands that we carefully prepare for next Sunday morning’s Bible study hour and work at the development of class fellowship but we must not assume that auto-focus will kick in and, somehow, the overarching priorities of a Bible class will automatically and consistently remain clear. Under a Spirit-filled teacher’s leadership a focused class will pray about, prepare for and promote the purposes of a disciple-making class every week. He or she will do so with a passion!
Let me suggest some ways to focus on the big picture week-after-week and thus keep the focus clear.
- A focused class will pray for at least one lost person by name every Sunday morning! This powerful focus says to the class, “We exist to reach people for Christ.”
- A focused class should pray by name for at least one class member who will visit or minister in the coming week. This powerful focus reminds the class that they exist “to serve together.”
- A focused class could pray by name during class time for a teacher or leader who has left their class to guide Bible study elsewhere in the Sunday School. This powerful focus says to everyone present that “sending laborers into the harvest and multiplying our ministry is essential to both our spiritual and numerical growth.”
It is not automatic! A leader must continue to pray about, prepare for and promote the big picture with a focused passion!
State Sunday School Specialist, Alaska Baptist Convention
Associational Missionary, Hatcher Pass Baptist Association