1. Enable students to grasp the essential truths of Scripture.
The Bible highlights certain teachings more than others. For example, there are four Gospels, there’s a greatest commandment (Mk. 12:29-31), and there are things of “first importance” (1 Cor. 15:3). Topics of secondary importance should be considered, but shouldn’t sidetrack us from placing the emphasis in the right place. Given the prominence of Christ and salvation in Scripture, the purpose of the Bible is concisely summarized in this way: to make us “wise for salvation through faith in Christ” (2 Tim. 3:15). We can compare the Bible to an outstretched finger pointing to Christ, a monitor displaying Christ, or a vehicle transporting us to Christ. Unfortunately, some people study the Scriptures and miss the point by refusing to come to Christ (Jn. 5:39-40). A Christian interpretation of Scripture emphasizes Christ. Second, Scripture has a practical purpose which is to equip us for a life of good works (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The stories, commands, and exhortations, should motivate us to do good and discourage us from doing evil. As we take a step back and look at these two stated objectives we find ourselves at the greatest commandment: love God (which involves believing in and loving his Son), and love people (Mk. 12:28-31).
2. Challenge students to respond wholistically to the message of the Bible.
The Bible aims to affect our head (intellect), heart (emotions/desires), and hands (actions). First, the Scriptures have to engage the mind and this can be accomplished in a variety of ways: observing and interpreting details in a passage, taking notes while listening to an online sermon, and researching a topic. But engaging students intellectually has to be done at the appropriate level. High school Bible class is not seminary nor is it Sunday school. That means high school students should be exposed to controversial issues in biblical interpretation, but they don’t need to be taken into the depth of controversy of a graduate student. When exposing students to controversial issues I attempt to give the possible solutions without being dogmatic. Being fair to both sides, as best as we can, is the honest thing to do. Second, the Scriptures convict and challenge the attitudes of the heart and Bible class should do the same. This curriculum seeks to address the heart through the use of relevant questions, reflective assignments, and artwork. Third, there are important things to do in response to Bible study. For example, James says if we merely listen to the word without doing what it says, we’re deceiving ourselves (Jam. 1:22). Since observing or grading action is outside the scope of an academic class, this particular objective is targeted through the use of encouragement.
3. Encourage students to read the Bible and interact with its ideas for a lifetime.
The Bible is not meant to be a textbook that we put away when class is over. If students stop reading and thinking about biblical ideas, Bible class was ineffective. I hope Bible class motivates students to read and study the Bible for the rest of their lives. I believe this long-term encouragement is best given through meaningful and engaging Bible lessons.
[This post is part of my Guide for High School Bible Teachers.]