My time in Tanzania is fresh on my mind. Before heading to Tanzania, I knew I had to understand the context of Sunday School in Baptist churches in Tanzania before I could affirm or offer suggestions for change. Culture impacts methods.
For instance, few in Tanzania own cars. That impacts consideration for following up guests. Another instance is that many churches have only a meeting space for worship. That impacts having multiple classes and starting new ones. Also, Bibles cost about $7-15 each while the average annual income is only $350 per person (about 2-4% of income). That would amount to $500-1,000+ per person here in Jefferson County. Would we buy a Bible if it were that expensive?
One specific concern I had was the Sunday morning Bible study teaching-learning session. What are the essentials that rise to the surface? What are the essentials that rise above and beyond cultural differences? In February, I wrote a blog post back entitled Essentials for Sunday School/Small Group Bible Study Sessions. I went back to it to check out how it bridged the cultural gap. The six points came from an article entitled Essential Bible Study Tools. Here are the six essentials:
- Prayer for illumination,
- A primary scriptural focus,
- Engagement with other voices,
- Questions, questions, questions,
- At least one opportunity to engage the biblical text through an alternative medium, and
- A challenge to respond.
While I cannot speak for other cultures around the world, I can speak from my experience in Tanzania. While these six essentials are not present in all classes in Baptist churches in Tanzania, there is a desire by leadership with whom I spoke to move classes in this direction. For more information about these six essentials read Essentials for Sunday School/Small Group Bible Study Sessions and Essential Bible Study Tools.
Evaluate yourself and your class. Which of these six essentials of your preparation and practice are strongest? Which are weakest? What can you do this week to strengthen your lesson? Begin in prayer. Focus on scripture. Engage other voices. Ask questions. Use another medium. Challenge them to respond. Be revolutionary!