Let's get personal

Having sung the praises of this new curriculum outline, (see left column), let me share something that concerns me. This is not really about curriculum, it is about the way Sunday School is often done.

Here is a quote from the teacher's guide for Masterworks for September 7. What is wrong with this picture:

Ask a volunteer to read the content of Day Two, "Searching for Happiness in the Wrong Places," stopping with the question, "Are you getting what you want?" Lead a discussion of this question without getting personal.

One thing that is slightly problematic to me is the study centers around the text of the book, not the text of The Book. But, I think in the broad context of this study (it is a study of the beatitudes.) there will be plenty of Biblical content and direct contact with the Bible itself. I believe that Sunday School needs to have a healthy dose of contact with the naked Bible itself. Still, I'd let this one go.

The real issue here is the last phrase, "without getting personal." Let me be very frank here. (My middle name is Frank.) Getting personal is exactly what we need to do.

Sunday School tends to be way too theoretical, antiseptic, and other-worldly. What we need to know is how this really works in the real world of real people's lives. We desperately need to get personal.

Teaching is truth poured through a person. We try not to distort the truth as it pours through us, but we let it flow through us. As it does, the truth is tinted by our personality. This is how it should be. We don't just tell them what the Bible says, we tell them how it works in our lives personally.

It is people that God uses. It is people that change lives. It is not so much principles or ideas or concepts as much as it is people. And it is people that get personal. People today are searching for better principles and methods. What we need is better people. It is people that God uses.

Any time your life has been changed it has been changed because someone got personal. Life is all about getting personal. Teaching is all about getting personal.

It is certainly possible to get too personal, or to get personal in inappropriate ways. I was in a service one time where this happened. A lady came forward and asked to share something with the congregation. The pastor handed her the microphone. (In retrospect, not a good idea.) She was weeping as she confessed, "I need to confess my sin of sexual immorality with Joe Schmow." This was more information than we needed. What made matters worse was Joe was setting about 4 rows back. I don't think he was in the mood to have his sins confessed. There is a such a thing as getting too personal.

Still, we don't mean to say we don't want to get personal at all. I have been to too many classes that were all theoretical, high-and-mighty theories and concepts and the-Greek-says that never touched the real world. I want to raise my hand and say, "How does that really work in the real world for you personally?"

Paul said it this way, "We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us." 1 Thes. 2:8

Not only the gospel, but our lives as well.

That is what I would invite you to do: share not only the gospel, but your lives as well.