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  • Adult education lacking in churches nowadays


    When I went from attending a Catholic church to a Presbyterian church in 1991, I was so drawn to the adult education Sunday school classes. I realized I could apply the Bible to my life. It was nice to attend the service with the pastor speaking from the gospels, and then have a choice of six adult classes on the historical books, wisdom literature, letters, prophets, gospels, and topics.

    With Sunday school classes, often attendees would go out for a walk after service and then lunch. A great time of community and learning. With outstanding Sunday school classes, I found I was so much better with my daily devotional times. People come to church focused, relaxed and ready to learn and build community.

    Now in Northern Virginia, so few churches offer adult education, and some have cut back totally. Small groups are encouraged. Problems there often the topics are books based on what is the hot selling book on the Christian top selling list. Small groups are great in theory, but in practice often fail. With Northern Virginia, I get up 5:00 AM for work. In a small group will usually start from 7:30 - 9:00, but then there is person who calls and cannot show up til 8:30 and want to order a pizza. The group then goes to 11:00 PM. Often the only qualification for a small group leader is to know John 3:16. A leader at times will use a study guide that has too many questions for the allotted time. Either the teaching turns into a speed reading class or the study will go til every question is answered.

    Back in the 1990s, people came to church with a study Bible, notebook and focused. Now people just causally pull out a smart phone and glance at the Scripture. In Northern Virginia, real estate is high so parking can be a problem for offering adult education.

    For me growth and community have come best from the adult education Bible classes. Bummed that so many churches stopped offering the Bible classes on Sundays.

  • #2
    This is my first post. Just testing if this works

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    • #3
      Originally posted by HybridDriver View Post
      When I went from attending a Catholic church to a Presbyterian church in 1991, I was so drawn to the adult education Sunday school classes. I realized I could apply the Bible to my life. It was nice to attend the service with the pastor speaking from the gospels, and then have a choice of six adult classes on the historical books, wisdom literature, letters, prophets, gospels, and topics.

      With Sunday school classes, often attendees would go out for a walk after service and then lunch. A great time of community and learning. With outstanding Sunday school classes, I found I was so much better with my daily devotional times. People come to church focused, relaxed and ready to learn and build community.

      Now in Northern Virginia, so few churches offer adult education, and some have cut back totally. Small groups are encouraged. Problems there often the topics are books based on what is the hot selling book on the Christian top selling list. Small groups are great in theory, but in practice often fail. With Northern Virginia, I get up 5:00 AM for work. In a small group will usually start from 7:30 - 9:00, but then there is person who calls and cannot show up til 8:30 and want to order a pizza. The group then goes to 11:00 PM. Often the only qualification for a small group leader is to know John 3:16. A leader at times will use a study guide that has too many questions for the allotted time. Either the teaching turns into a speed reading class or the study will go til every question is answered.

      Back in the 1990s, people came to church with a study Bible, notebook and focused. Now people just causally pull out a smart phone and glance at the Scripture. In Northern Virginia, real estate is high so parking can be a problem for offering adult education.

      For me growth and community have come best from the adult education Bible classes. Bummed that so many churches stopped offering the Bible classes on Sundays.
      You have identified the problem so have you approached your pastor or other church leader about a solution to the problem ? Could you set up the class and layout the rules ? I hear you that 5am work time is a rough one .

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      • #4
        Originally posted by hawkman View Post

        You have identified the problem so have you approached your pastor or other church leader about a solution to the problem ? Could you set up the class and layout the rules ? I hear you that 5am work time is a rough one .

        Last Spring I did go to the head of adult education, and letting her know I would be willing to teach during the summer. Instead the class was suspended for the summer, with plans to bring back in the fall. Well, the class never came back. Bummer, so much outstanding community happens in Sunday schools.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by HybridDriver View Post


          Last Spring I did go to the head of adult education, and letting her know I would be willing to teach during the summer. Instead the class was suspended for the summer, with plans to bring back in the fall. Well, the class never came back. Bummer, so much outstanding community happens in Sunday schools.
          Let us now be your Sunday school. Come teach us, from your knowledge and inform us about the things we need to know and understand. Maybe you're here to teach us, or vice versa.

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          • #6
            I have a few thoughts on this, mostly to do with 2 Peter 1:

            Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8)

            One of the reasons there isn't much appetite for knowledge in churches could be due to a lack of virtues or even worse a lack of faith and true believers. Are people finding satisfaction in the gospel alone? Are they being preached salvation and repentance of sins at all? A lost person has no craving for God's Word, so maybe church leadership needs to go back to the basics. I think this is the main reason behind the stagnation of churches in the West, is that there is no Foundation and no cross being preached in the first place.

            A second reason could be that the people you are in contact with are simply young in the faith or immature, and can only digest the "milk" like Paul illustrates in 1 Corinthians. As new or inexperienced converts are just escaping their former sins, they are still learning how to supplement their knowledge with self-control. It doesn't do anyone good to teach all the depths and mysteries of Scripture if they have little understanding or application of "fear the Lord" and "love the Lord your God." So the solution here isn't to provide more learning opportunities, but to walk with them directly and help increase their practice of prayer and crucifying the flesh.

            The last reason is a personal one; it could have to do with your own growth and perception. Perhaps God is leading you towards being sanctified in steadfastness or godliness or compassion for others. Your season of learning or training could be coming to an end, and now you are in a position where you can put what you have learned into practice. How can you bless or care for your neighbor or brother/sister in Christ? Or what opportunities do you have to share the gospel and teach new believers? Remember that our ultimate goal on earth is not to maximize our knowledge/wisdom, but to show love to "the least of these." God equips us with knowledge necessary to go out into the world and minister to the lost - not knowledge for the sake of knowledge.
            「耶和華聖潔無比,獨一無二,沒有磐石像我們的上帝。
            撒母耳記上 (1 Samuel) 2:2

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Aviyah View Post
              I have a few thoughts on this, mostly to do with 2 Peter 1:

              Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8)

              One of the reasons there isn't much appetite for knowledge in churches could be due to a lack of virtues or even worse a lack of faith and true believers. Are people finding satisfaction in the gospel alone? Are they being preached salvation and repentance of sins at all? A lost person has no craving for God's Word, so maybe church leadership needs to go back to the basics. I think this is the main reason behind the stagnation of churches in the West, is that there is no Foundation and no cross being preached in the first place.
              BOOM! A thousand BOOMS! Repentance is not being preached like it was 30 years ago. That was towards the end of the Jesus movement, a great nationwide revival. If you go and listen to some of the greats back then like Lenard Ravenhill, Vance Havner, Peter Lord, Jack Taylor, Adrian Rogers, and so on, you'll hear it in spades. People preached against sin and how to overcome it and live victoriously.

              It seems to me we have created a Jesus from our own imaginations that does not exists. Few seem fearful of Him anymore. I fear that many are unregenerate in our churches today. When I read the OT and the NT about how God views sin, it creates fear in me to sin. I still sin, but man, it just seems today I hear a lot more about how much God loves me. But that love is far more meaningless when there is no judgment to be concerned about, no chastisement to fear, etc. Without those things, it is like my grandparents who would give me candy to get me to do something for them.

              A second reason could be that the people you are in contact with are simply young in the faith or immature, and can only digest the "milk" like Paul illustrates in 1 Corinthians. As new or inexperienced converts are just escaping their former sins, they are still learning how to supplement their knowledge with self-control. It doesn't do anyone good to teach all the depths and mysteries of Scripture if they have little understanding or application of "fear the Lord" and "love the Lord your God." So the solution here isn't to provide more learning opportunities, but to walk with them directly and help increase their practice of prayer and crucifying the flesh.
              Another good point! Counseling, real biblical counseling, is also missing these days. It was uncommon even back in the Jesus movement. But some folks like Milt Green and others had some understanding and people were getting set free of things they struggled with for years.

              To me, our biblical example is Isreal coming out of Egypt. They had victory over 2 kings early. This is often what happens when people get saved. God gives them victory over 1 or 2 besetting sins. But then, he camps them out at Sinai so they can learn about Him. He leads them away from war so they can learn the basics. After understanding to fear Him, to love Him, then he leads them to Canaan to drive out the giants. This happens in our personal walk too. Once we learn some basics, then we can go after our own giants.

              But an entire generation died in the wilderness because they did not believe they could have victory. They had two false beliefs 1) they saw the giants as too powerful so that the giants viewed them as grasshoppers. 2) they saw themselves as grasshoppers before their giants. In fear and unbelief, the refused to enter and God got angry. We can overcome all the sinful giants in our lives, if we will trust God, follow Him, believe His promises, and obey. I don't mean sinlessness forever, but I do mean having victory over the sinful habits we have had our entire life. These giants can and will come down even if we are still occasionally tempted. Oh perhaps we will fall again in a moment of weakness, but it doesn't reach the level of habit that it did before.

              The last reason is a personal one; it could have to do with your own growth and perception. Perhaps God is leading you towards being sanctified in steadfastness or godliness or compassion for others. Your season of learning or training could be coming to an end, and now you are in a position where you can put what you have learned into practice. How can you bless or care for your neighbor or brother/sister in Christ? Or what opportunities do you have to share the gospel and teach new believers? Remember that our ultimate goal on earth is not to maximize our knowledge/wisdom, but to show love to "the least of these." God equips us with knowledge necessary to go out into the world and minister to the lost - not knowledge for the sake of knowledge.
              Another good point! God kept John the Baptist in the wilderness for 30 years preparing him for a 6 month ministry. We see the same thing with Moses. While Jesus was referring to Himself as the Lamp that is not put under a bushel, God doesn't want to hide those He has prepared to be a lamp either.

              Wish I could rep you a thousand times for this post!
              Matt 9:13
              13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
              NASU

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Brother Mark View Post
                To me, our biblical example is Isreal coming out of Egypt.
                I definitely identified with this especially early on after being saved, and that testing period immediately afterwards. That's a good point about the "2 kings", I didn't make that connection before but I can see that too. Even though we're saved out of all sins, it's still a matter of growing and crucifying yourself each day, like the old person dies more and more. But the wilderness feels like exactly that ... like your old self was destroyed and you're not really sure where to go, and only God is with you.
                「耶和華聖潔無比,獨一無二,沒有磐石像我們的上帝。
                撒母耳記上 (1 Samuel) 2:2

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Aviyah View Post

                  I definitely identified with this especially early on after being saved, and that testing period immediately afterwards. That's a good point about the "2 kings", I didn't make that connection before but I can see that too. Even though we're saved out of all sins, it's still a matter of growing and crucifying yourself each day, like the old person dies more and more. But the wilderness feels like exactly that ... like your old self was destroyed and you're not really sure where to go, and only God is with you.
                  Yes! And we have to be careful not to encourage people to go ahead of God when it comes to their sins. Sure, we preach on them in the church. (And that reminds me, I agree with you about preaching about God's judgment to the world more than about sins. I disagreed greatly earlier with your line of thinking earlier. But given Jonah's example, I think you are on to something. I am not saying we never mention sins, but rather, we need to warn them of judgment to come. It is far more important and that leaves room for the Holy Spirit to convict of sin. Please consider this a mea culpa that was way too long delayed.) Anyway, God led Israel away from war early on so we need to be careful about that too. Or as John said "rejoice little children that your sins are forgiven". Babes in Christ just need to spend that time rejoicing and being grateful and enjoying the Father's love. THere will come a time when He will instruct them to get up and get going.

                  I think of the wilderness as a learning experience (See Deut 8:2-6 or so). It is there, that we are humbled, and made to be hungry so that God can feed us. It is there that we learn that we can only make it by living by every word that comes from the mouth of God. There we see provision, but not fullness. Yet, as we learn that He does provide, that He is faithful, that He can work miracles, then we have faith to take the giants in our heart. It is in the wilderness that we learn our flesh simply cannot do this walk God has called us to. As young believers, we are often filled with confidence that we can do this! In excitement we receive so much from the Lord. But we underestimate our self centeredness. I know I did. But the wilderness shows me how self centered I am. It is there, that God allows us to get tired of either our youth, or sometimes our carnality.

                  Then we cross the Jordan, which IMO, is a picture of truely starting to deny self and walking with God... trusting Him for victory. We no longer see sin as a GIANT that can defeat us. As a matter of fact, Joshua and Israel were surprised when Ai defeated them. So Canaan is a land of victory, but also of defeat. Joshua had to discern where the sin was so that Israel could have victory and we see in Hosea where God calls the valley of Achor a door of hope. That was where Achan was stoned. When we get so serious about taking down our habitual sins, that we are willing to deal harshly with the disobedience in our heart that we will stone Achan and all it's fruit, then we will continue in victory with God.

                  The old man was destroyed in Egypt. I think He is typified as Pharoah. He was crucified with Christ. But our flesh still has to be denied. And thus Jesus says "deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me". We learn to do that in the desert and in so doing, we can have victory over habitual sin in the promised land... a land of fullness where we actually eat from from the fruit of the land rather than manna. IMO, Canaan is a type of the abundant life of spiritual prosperity (notice I am not speaking of financial prosperity here) and victory we are promised in the NT.

                  3 stages are repeated over and over in scriptures
                  Egypt - lost where the old man rules and enslaves us
                  Wilderness - saved, but learning at Sinai - little children
                  Canaan - life of fullness where we overcome - young men, Fathers

                  Though the wilderness can also be turned into a wilderness of sin but that is about carnality and another thread.

                  Sorry for the long post but your comments and thoughts just excite me!

                  Matt 9:13
                  13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
                  NASU

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by HybridDriver View Post
                    When I went from attending a Catholic church to a Presbyterian church in 1991, I was so drawn to the adult education Sunday school classes. I realized I could apply the Bible to my life. It was nice to attend the service with the pastor speaking from the gospels, and then have a choice of six adult classes on the historical books, wisdom literature, letters, prophets, gospels, and topics.

                    With Sunday school classes, often attendees would go out for a walk after service and then lunch. A great time of community and learning. With outstanding Sunday school classes, I found I was so much better with my daily devotional times. People come to church focused, relaxed and ready to learn and build community.

                    Now in Northern Virginia, so few churches offer adult education, and some have cut back totally. Small groups are encouraged. Problems there often the topics are books based on what is the hot selling book on the Christian top selling list. Small groups are great in theory, but in practice often fail. With Northern Virginia, I get up 5:00 AM for work. In a small group will usually start from 7:30 - 9:00, but then there is person who calls and cannot show up til 8:30 and want to order a pizza. The group then goes to 11:00 PM. Often the only qualification for a small group leader is to know John 3:16. A leader at times will use a study guide that has too many questions for the allotted time. Either the teaching turns into a speed reading class or the study will go til every question is answered.

                    Back in the 1990s, people came to church with a study Bible, notebook and focused. Now people just causally pull out a smart phone and glance at the Scripture. In Northern Virginia, real estate is high so parking can be a problem for offering adult education.

                    For me growth and community have come best from the adult education Bible classes. Bummed that so many churches stopped offering the Bible classes on Sundays.
                    I miss Sunday school the way it used to be. It was a great way to get to know people, and everyone participated. Lately, the Sunday school classes at churches I've visited are nonexistent or are now called Bible Class, or some such thing, in which a teacher teaches and there's almost no participation from others. My situation, as it is now, makes it impossible for me to attend home groups.

                    I've been reading a book called The Average Pastor: Reflections of an Average Pastor of an Average Church. The author was a pastor of a very large church then ended up at a very small one. His book is about his struggles to grow the church and make it like the one he was at before. Finally, rather than emulating the megachurches, he realized his calling was to be an average pastor of an average church.

                    Statistically, megachurches are in the minority but they get all the attention and every wants to be like them. In the megachurches I've been to, Sunday school is out and all the attention is on the main event, the big show. It's unfortunate, but many smaller and average-sized churches want to be megachurches and look to them as models.

                    The Average Pastor is a great book and touches on subjects I've never read anywhere else.

                    Disclaimer: I'm not the author nor do I know the author. And I have nothing to gain financially from this book.
                    Love is patient, love is kind. . .

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