45 Precious Minutes

On Sunday mornings, I am currently teaching our high school class at Lebanon Road. It has been quite a while since I taught this age, other than a lesson or two at camp, but I am greatly enjoying our young people. On Wednesday nights, I am the regular teacher for our auditorium class, and there are usually around 60-75 in the room for that setting. Though the room is not conducive to true discussion, we do okay, and I am thankful for those who regularly contribute to the class.

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In my estimation, these are precious minutes. Most of the congregations I know of have classes that average about 45 minutes in length, and most have classes for all ages on Sunday morning and Wednesday nights. So, in total, there are about 90 available minutes for those classroom settings.

Teachers, I want to challenge all of us to make the most of those precious minutes.

There is a place, especially in such a small and even intimate setting, for announcements and even for a little bit of “catching up,” but far too many classes take up 10, 15, or even 20 minutes on these things. By that time, the teacher is lucky to share anything of real depth with the class.

There must be a balance struck. In an ideal world, we would spend the entire 45 minutes digging deeply into the Book and how it applies to our lives, then we would immediately start fellowship and relationship-building when the class ended. We all know that just isn’t going to happen, and that’s okay.

But do we need to spend half our class time on announcements, recipe swaps, showing family pictures, and talking about the football game? Is our time in Bible class not more precious than that? Is our purpose not higher than those things?

Teachers, I am certainly not the expert at this, but let me give a couple of suggestions to help us all strike that balance.

First, limit the time spent in announcements and fellowship. It doesn’t have to be 0 minutes, but isn’t 5 out of 45 enough? That only leaves you with 40 minutes to share eternal truths! This takes being in control of the class, and letting the students know that it is time to open God’s Word and get our brains turned on. (It may even take calling out a student; which, if you teach an adult class, is never easy.) But it also takes you being prepared. Sometimes, let’s be honest, teachers allow the “extras” to go on because we don’t have a whole lot to say. The less time, the better. It takes work to be prepared to teach for 40 minutes or so, but it can be done. If you are prepared and have Biblically-based lessons with depth and application, you will gain the respect and control of your students rather quickly.

But second, if you have a problem with “extras” going on, have yourself or a student plan some outings away from the classroom for fellowship. Meet as a class for dinner or a cookout. Go shopping together, or go enjoy a basketball game. There is great value in the class knowing each other and spending that time in relationship building, but do those things at other times.

This Sunday, and every Sunday, make the most of those 45 minutes. They are not only precious, they could make an eternal difference.

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Photo credit: Michael on Creative Commons

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One Response to 45 Precious Minutes

  1. Ben Wiles says:

    Those 45 minutes a week are precious indeed.

    I hope parents will realize just how so.

    At 45 minutes per week, a child will spend 702 hours in Bible class between the day they are born and their 18th birthday. Assuming they never miss. And for between a quarter and a third of those hours, the child will not be able to read.

    702 hours is the equivalent of just over 100 school days, or a little more than half a year.

    So a child will spend more time (probably at least twice as much) with their fifth grade teacher than they spend with all of their Bible class teachers combined.

    Parents (and preachers and teachers), then, should realize just how limited Bible class time is, and make the most of it.

    But parents should also realize that half a school year’s worth of Bible class is never going to be enough to teach a child everything they need to know. Bible class cannot be a child’s primary source of spiritual nutrition. If it is, the child will starve. Bible class is, at best, a Flintstones chewable — a good supplement, but nowhere near a “complete balanced diet” by itself. The meat and potatoes and vegetables have to come from somewhere else.

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