I've been teaching adult Sunday school for over 20 years. It never ceases to amaze me how little we all (I'm including myself in this sentence) know about the Bible and about church history and about our faith. We know our own stories and what God has done for us and THAT IS VERY important because we can share that and no one can dispute it. But when it gets right down to it, how many books are there in the Bible? Where is Esther in the Bible? Who is Esther? Who were the prophets?
We started studying a new book several weeks ago by Philip Yancey. The name of the book is The Bible Jesus Read. There is a chapter on Job and one on Psalms and one on Lamentations and one on the Prophets. It was not an easy book to teach. Our class is large - 50 or so people most weeks. I (or sometimes someone else) lectures and asks questions along the way. This book did not lend itself well to that style. Part of the problem is that by the time we have coffee (and our class has to have time to socialize - we may be in our 40's and 50's but if you don't give us time to socialize, we are like 7th and 8th graders. we cannot settle down.), make announcements, and have prayer requests and prayer . . .there is only about 20 minutes left for a lesson. If you have ever taught sunday school in your life . . .close your eyes for a moment and imagine trying to cram the whole book of job into one 20 minute lesson. Why not stretch one of those lessons out over two weeks? Well . . . we have lots of lakes houses and beach houses and various and sundry trips and odds are that the same folks might not even be there two Sundays in a row. So what's a teacher to do?
Last Sunday, the lesson was on the prophets. I used part of the material that Philip Yancey had in his book but I also asked a whole bunch of trivia questions FIRST. I found these in some online quiz so I can't take credit for them and I can't remember where I found them so I can't give the person credit:
1.) Which prophet married a prostitute because God told him to?
2.) Who woke up under a tree and found an angel had cooked food for him?
3.) What prophet executed the prophets of Baal after God consumed his offering with fire?
4.) What lost item did the prophet Elisha cause to float to the surface of the Jordan?
I asked several more and then used some serious material from the book to finish the lesson.
All week I've been thinking about the fact that none of us seem to know enough about the Bible and how could we learn it without me just standing up there drilling facts into their heads. The problem is that by the time you reach 50 . . .if someone stands in front of you and talks for 20 minutes and doesn't hold your interest . . .you fall asleep. There are at least two men who fall asleep every Sunday. These aren't OLD men (yet!!) AND I try to make the lessons as lively as possible.
So all week - I was thinking and praying . . .thinking and praying . . .thinking and praying. I finally had an idea. I got online and started researching Bible games. Many of the games required some tech ability. Most of the rooms at church have large screen tv's, etc. but our class just happens to be in a room with no access so I needed to find something old school. I finally found a site that would build bingo cards - up to 1000 - for $12. I just had to come up with the questions and provide a word list. A little more searching . . .and I submitted the word list and viola' the cards were created and I printed them.
Since we would be playing on the Sunday before the Fourth of July, I had no idea whether we would have 5 people or 55 people in class. We had closer to 55!! I'm glad I printed enough cards!!!
I went to the Dollar Tree near our house on Saturday night and bought 5 prizes and put them in red, white and blue gift bags. The prizes were flag glow sticks and kiddie floats in animal shapes and funky sunglasses. Here is a picture of one of our class members wearing a pair of the sunglasses. Karen was rocking them in the contemporary service. Her teenaged son thought she was insane!!
I wasn't sure whether or not the class would enjoy Bible Bingo but everyone seemed to have a great time. Some of the questions were very easy - What is the first book in the Bible? (Genesis)
Here is a sampling of a few of the other questions:
What is the name of a Christian symbol shaped like a fish? (ichthus or ichthys)
Who wrote letters to many churches encouraging them to use their spiritual gifts and work together as the body of Christ? (Paul).
This next question tripped up the whole back row of guys (we have two back rows of guys just like when we were younger - isn't that funny???) --
The question was "What was the name of Jesus hometown?" - I even told them that it might be a trick question . . .to think carefully. The answer was Nazareth.
The following question is the one that stumped my husband - and he usually gets all of the questions right!!
What do we call the bible lessons specifically written for the liturgical calendar cycle?
The answer is: The lectionary series
All of the questions weren't strictly from the Bible - some were from the faith journey - the Christian walk. We had 1 girl and 5 guys to Bingo. I only had 5 prizes and so I had to give Dean a consolation hug but I think someone shared their prize with him. One couple, Rhonda and Bill, both bingoed (is that word?) and they shared one of their prizes with Karen (the sunglasses).
People sometimes think Christians are dull and boring and that we don't have any fun. If you were walking down the hall at Trinity UMC on Sunday morning, I believe you would have heard lots of laughter and maybe some hooting and hollering coming from room 300. This group of Christians likes to have fun AND we love Jesus!!