Jump Start # 3310
Hebrews 5:11 “Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.”
It is an age old problem that teachers struggle with. How do you get students interested in what you want to teach? The school teacher faces this. The Bible class teacher faces this. The preacher faces this. And, this can’t be blamed on a visual, video game generation. Here in our passage, the Hebrews were “dull of hearing.” In Corinthians, Paul said, that he fed them milk because they were not able to receive solid food. It wasn’t that they were too young in the faith. The problem was that they were still fleshly or carnal.
And, this is the typical picture in far too many places. The Bible class teacher has researched and studied the material to be presented all week. He has passages, quotes, ideas that he is ready to share with the class. As he asks his first question, blank and bored stares is all he receives in return. Quickly, the energy and enthusiasm of the teacher escapes him. He is struggling. No one seems to be interested. No one seems to care. Minutes seem like days. When will the class end, the teacher wonders. When the bell finally rings, the teacher feels a great relief, this is almost over. As the teacher drives home, he feels like a failure. He already dreads having to teach the next class. He tells himself that he is a lousy teacher and that he will never do this again.
And, in such settings, one by one, the teachers drop out. Only a few brave souls teach and it’s the same ones year in and year out.
Some thoughts about all of this:
First, often people are given a topic, a class book and told to teach but they have never been taught how to do that. Just handing someone a class book does not help with people who sit and stare. How does the teacher deal with the guy who wants to dominate the class time with his own agenda, which often has nothing to do with the subject at hand? How does the teacher get others to participate?
Maybe it would be good to have a class about how to teach before one is put in that position. Experienced teachers can share insights and tips that help the class.
Second, the method of teaching must be looked at. One doesn’t have to teach every subject or even every class the same way. Lectures serve a purpose but not all the time. Verse by verse is not the only way to go through a book of the Bible. Look at themes. Look at questions. Look at different insights. Bring some freshness to the way you teach.
Third, there is a huge responsibility placed upon the students in the class. Both the Hebrew and the Corinthian passages points the problem not to the teacher, the subject, nor the method of teaching. The problem was shallow faith of the students. The dull of hearing was the students problem, not the teacher. They became that way because they were not interested spiritually.
People need to see why and how what is being taught is relevant to their lives. How will what you are teaching help them on a Tuesday afternoon? Getting the words off the pages of the Bible and into our lives, putting shoes on those verses, will help the class not only remember, but to turn and use those verses in their walk with the Lord. Challenging questions that make people think beyond the obvious helps.
Connecting class to daily Bible readings, or other daily habits will help make what is taught useful.
God wants us to be strong and mature spiritually. An adult still living on baby food is a problem. Spiritual maturity is a result of growth and development. It doesn’t just happen. A person may have been a Christian for decades, but his knowledge and maturity level may remain in the first grade. What we do outside the church building is important. Our personal study habits and offering classes other than just Sunday and Wednesday helps the development process.
Dull of hearing—what a disappointment to the teacher. What a hinderance to the church. What sorrow it brings the Lord. Time must be spent in helping these people grow and develop that is taking away from reaching and teaching others. Much too often we must cater to the weak faith of some and pour far too many resources into trying to convince some Christians that they ought to be Christians.
Later in Corinthians the expression is found, “Act like men.” The Ephesians were told, “Grow up”. I just wonder how many first grade level lessons are still needed for adults who have been Christians for decades? Something is tragically wrong when we continue to be spoon fed by preachers rather than digging in ourselves and learning God’s will.
I have much to say, our passage states. But your dull ears will not tolerate it. Shame on them. Shame on us when we act no differently.