“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning”
Those words were penned by Louis L’Amour in the first chapter of the book, Lonely on the Mountain. This was the seventeenth and final book in “The Sacketts” series of novels and short stories. While these words are a fitting end to a classic tale about a family setting out to tame the wild, frontier West at the turn of the century, it can also be applied to how we prepare and present small group bible studies week after week.
Recently, I joined the Sunday School leadership team of our church by taking on the role of lead teacher in one of my church’s adult Sunday school classes. I am enjoying the week by week preparation involved and discovering that what I love most is experiencing the “Ah-Ha” moments when we get around to real life application of scripture. As we search the scriptures, we discover that many lessons are naturally suited for life application, sometimes leaping right off the pages of God’s word.
In the presentation steps of a lesson, the Life Application portion is often placed at the end of a class time. This is a logical place to put it. After all, “we’ve always done it that way before.” I don’t know about your class, but in some classes that I have attended, we tend to get “off track” at times and chase a few wild rabbits. It’s only natural in the discovery learning process that we find times when we want to dig a bit deeper in certain area of scripture, so rabbit trails are not all bad, as long as you, the teacher, bring it back to the focus of your lesson. The danger of rabbit chasing is that it eats away your class time and you may end up with no time left for Life Application. If you develop a habit of doing this week by week, you will have a class full of very knowledgeable pupils that have no idea what to do with the lessons you have taught. Here is a suggestion that might help keep that from happening.
As you prepare your lesson, “begin at the end and make the end only the beginning”. Huh? As you plan the step by step activities for your class, begin with the last activity you want to do (usually, your life application activity) and work backwards to the introduction. You will still teach in the same order you always have, but the priority of your preparation is now placed on the Life Application step. As you plan each succeeding activity, you will have the same amount of time to do it all, but you will have prioritized the time devoted to application. When you prioritize “the end” of your lesson, it becomes “the beginning” of putting into practice the truth of God’s word every day of their lives.