“My job as a teacher is to be supportive of each and everyone of my students faith walks, even if it is outside my personal relationship boundaries with God, and knowing that my relationship with God has helped me understand who He is and how we (God and I) want me to live in relation to cultivating the students relationships with Him”~Bible Class Mission Statement
This is the sort of mission statement that Bible teachers are hoping to accomplish on a daily basis. The mission statement may be written out, or it may be ingrained in the teachers heart but somewhere there is a mission statement moving them to continue teaching. During the course of Spring Quarter 2014, the one aspect of teaching Bible that has been continuously brought up is the role of the teacher, and why Bible is taught. Bible class is taught on a relationship basis, that makes a circle in all directions: the teachers relationship with God, the teachers relationship to the students, the teachers relationship with parents, the teachers relationship with the pastor, the teachers relationship to their family, the teachers relationship with the school board, and so on. Each relationship will be dissected and shown as to how important Bible class is to the fulfillment of The Bible Class Mission Statement.
The Bible teachers relationship with God is paramount to the success of Bible class. When the teacher has an intentional relationship with God, it requires daily prayer for each and every one of the students and their needs . These needs are addressed, when the teacher has a communication link between them and God. For example, when a student has a religious question or is having a difficult time in their walk of faith, the teacher has the interceding power to help mend those broken boundaries or answer those questions. God gives each and every person the power to work with the baggage that every child goes into class with, baggage that comes with them even before starting school. When a teacher has the power to help relieve some of that baggage the relationship the student builds with God is that much easier because there is a link when the teacher takes up the burden from the student and casts it upon Jesus, just like the verse says: “Come to me who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28 and “Cast your burden upon The Lord and he will sustain you” Psalm 55:22. The Bible teacher is to present God’s character upon everyone that they are in contact with because they are to bring people closer to God and His glorious kingdom, specifically each and every student in the classroom and that means cultivating the relationship.
More often than not the most direct relationship that is to be cultivated is the relationship between the student and the Bible teacher because the school environment makes the difference in the relationship for Christ. No matter what a teacher does in the classroom that helps build the relationship. What matters most is how the teacher makes the student feel and showed genuine interest. When the students feel the belief or never ending faith emulating from the teacher it is transferred to the student. A key component to help the teacher succeed in bringing students closer to Jesus is being comfortable being uncomfortable:
being uncomfortable not having all the answers to the students’ questions, being uncomfortable outside of personal religious boundaries, uncomfortable with praying from a distance when needed, being uncomfortable with subjective curriculum. Having a curriculum that is experience based is difficult to “grade” because there is no one way to experience God, and unless it is theirs (something they have personally seen, felt, heard, touched, etc.) they would not be will to die for the belief/ownership of God. Students need the support of being able to apply Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened”
A relationship that starts before stepping into the classroom is between the teacher and the parents of the student. This relationship is to be a bridge building one in which open communication is the best so that there are no room for misunderstandings. Misunderstandings occur more often because parents are of the traditional mindset of Bible class (memorize texts, do worksheets, read the Bible with very little room for experience) or they are of differing religious values and are confused on what is being taught to their child/do not want a fundamental belief to be presented to their child (State of the dead is one such belief parents have an issue with). With a relationship with God as a guide to speaking with parents it is easier to build a relationship with parents. Parents that are of the traditional mindset would need to be explained to that there is little to no room for experience in the traditional way and that if they want the teacher to continue to build on the religious foundation that they so diligently worked on before entering the school the teacher needs to allow for the student to understand, experience and communicate God to themselves and others in such a way that is exponential and never ending. While parents that are of a non-religious/other religion than the one being taught in the school would need to have the belief explained and where it stands in the Seventh-Day Adventist belief and the Bible as a way to bridge the problem. As a way to help the parent they might be invited to the classroom to share what their belief is with the classroom to show that different religions have different beliefs.
Another important relationship that needs to be addressed is between the teacher and the pastor(s) of the local church. Pastors are important and need to know that the school cares for their input/support. The reason why the relationship between the teacher and the pastor is important for the success of the Bible Class Mission Statement. Without the pastor the school would stand on its own. The pastor and teacher need to be the bridge between the church and the school so that they stand as one- united front working hand in hand for each others success. The pastor needs to know that his strengths would be put to good use inside the classroom so that he can relate to the students in the classroom as well as in the church setting. Giving the pastor the opportunity to be in the classroom and teach the students a Bible lesson or another topic that he is good at (hiking, or swimming) is allowing the students to learn from another person. Having the pastor on the school campus regularly helps the pastor know and understand what the church’s money goes for in the school- the majority of the money goes to sponsor children to have a religious education.
The relationship between the teacher and the school board is a mandatory association in which the teacher is the facilitator of the needs and wants of the school board in a tight rope fashion. The school board is to help solidify the vision of the Church school, making sure that the money for the school is put to the best possible use in the monthly, and yearly budget, while keeping and education in the forefront of its goal. One way to help build the relationship between the teacher and the school board is to allow the members to have a walk-through of the school and Bible curriculum. Whenever there is contention between the teacher and school board it is on the basis of curriculum. The teacher is to find a balance between what the school needs, and what the school board wants to implement in the school system, which they deem as necessary for their students in the school. There will come a time in which the teacher and the school board need to present a united front to the community on what they want for the benefits of the students religious experience. There will be a force that will divide the traditional way of learning about God and the experience based way of being with God, standing firm in the promises of God will help make sure that the students are supported in their walk of faith.
A relationship that is also a great way to help in the Bible class is having events in the church. A way for the congregation to see exactly where their money is going is to have the students showcase what they learn about God. This is a relationship between the students and the community, this church community is to be mutually supportive. When the students see that they are supported in their walk of faith in God, it helps them want to learn more about God and that they are not alone in their walk. When the church community is supported with religious showings, and presentations there is the fulfillment that the money they are giving is not going to waste; the money they earned is going to help build lives on the foundation of God inside the classroom. This relationship also presents the congregation the desire to put their children in the church school, supporting the school as well. The relationship between the students and the church is hand in hand to the success.
The connection with the community for public matters is a way to help feed the school. One way to help build a school and gain support is through that of the community, parents want their child to have a Christian upbringing, want to have higher standards for their child than that of the public schools. When parents see that the teacher is God fearing and wants what best for their child, and is not in the classroom to get a paycheck there is more desire to trust and put their child in the church school. With an open school that is welcoming to all peoples there will be more students within the church walls to help further the desire to have each student build a personal walk with God that is forever expanding.
The Bible curriculum and other disciplines of learning are to bond together throughout the day for the students, so that there is a continuous refreshment of God in their lives. Whenever there is a subject relate it back to Jesus, to help build that relationship. There is always a partnership between what we are teaching and the amazing things from above, build the foundation so that when the students get older and they are bombarded with worldly questions, or attacks of faith there is a solid foundation that they can stand upon and will not be shaken. With their walk of faith it is alright to have religious struggle but it is not alright to have the rug thrown out from under them.
One relationship that is often forgotten is the relationship between the teacher and that of their own family. The teacher needs to help build the relationship of their own children from infant to adult by teaching grace, agape love, and that Jesus loves them as fact. As a parent the teacher is going to always be showing Jesus’ love is unconditional and that God will show up when he is welcomed. A way to keep a relationship between the teacher and their child is to have an ongoing Jesus Relationship Dialogue in the house, have their child go to the Church school, and to attend church regularly as a family. As recorded in Valuegenesis in the Seventh-Day Adventist retention is 40% when religion is only taught in the home, 60% if religion is taught in both the home and in church, 80-90% if it is taught in the home, church, and school as a way of life. Proverbs 22:6 states, “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Having an open dialogue about Jesus in the house leaves an opening for God to come in and help further His love.
The aspect of success in teaching Bible class is to build up relationships-all relationships, both foreign and domestic. The one relationship that is of the up most to the success of Bible class is that one with God. He will never leave, nor forsake and as a teacher there is continuous need to spiritual intervening in the lives of the students, and giving of burdens to Jesus. Each and every relationship is interconnected with God as their center. Confidence in knowing that the teacher has a personal relationship with God helps the students be unafraid to delve deeper into a relationship with Him, in their own right. As teachers some of the ways to help build a relationship with Jesus is presenting His love, character, and grace.
“We want students to be able to understand, experience, and communicate God to themselves and to others in such a way that is exponential and never ending.”