Module 8 - Biblical Experiential Learning: Part 1

Teachers’ Seminar

Module 8: Biblical Experiential Learning, Part 1

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this module the learner should be able to:

  • Differentiate between learning by experience and biblical experiential learning.
  • Identify the ingredients of a living Christian experience.
  • Demonstrate how to lead the class members’ discussion of their experience in reference to the Sabbath School lesson.

Experience Is Not Enough 

Those who simply try a number of random and undirected methods may hurt themselves and others. Christian experience must be defined and directed by divine revelation.

The facilitator (teacher, disciple maker) must guide the classroom laboratory learning experience. Once Christian experience is defined, the class format is designed to relate these aspects to the biblical lesson for the day. Class members share information gained through experiences in which the Bible principles, faith, prayer, and providence have impacted daily life.

The class format is first directed by the biblical content. The method of study consists of group dynamics, interaction, social exchange, and conversational study of the Bible. The discussion centers around the application of the Bible to life.

Inspiration identifies several components of a living Christian experience in the following quote: “A living experience is made up of daily trials, conflicts, and temptations, strong efforts and victories, and great peace and joy gained through Jesus” ( In Heavenly Places, p. 91). Let’s examine these components.

Daily trials. Members share their experiences in living the Christian life. The world is hostile to Christian principles; however, disciples of Jesus meet obstacles and opposition with mutual support, prayer, and edification through the Word.

Conflicts. Disciples help each other meet conflicts that arise from the Christian walk. However, care should be taken not to share personal details in the lives of others, including a spouse, in general open sessions. Sharing should mostly deal with personal struggles about how to put Christian principles into operation. Members should look for biblical answers and not simply look for human support.

Temptations. It is helpful to talk about temptations in a general way. “Unless you are wrought upon by the Holy Spirit in special manner to confess your sins of private nature to man, do not breathe them to any soul” (Counsels on Health, p. 374).

Strong efforts. We need to talk more about strong efforts, the active, positive side of experience. Talk limited to temptations and failures misses essential ingredients.

Victories. “Then let us not talk of our weakness and inefficiency, but of Christ and His strength” (Messages to Young People, p. 105).

Great peace and joy gained through Jesus. Members share testimonies of how the grace of Christ prevailed through the past week. Dynamic spiritual learning takes place when class members share experience in the right way.

“A simple relation of such experiences gives light, strength, and knowledge that will aid others in their advancement in the divine life” ( In Heavenly Places, p. 91).

Techniques. How does the facilitator (teacher) keep the class focused on the Bible in experiential study? Here are a few helps:
 

1. Use icebreakers related to the Bible and experience.
 

Examples: The lesson deals with our relationship to the law of God. To encourage class attendees to share their feelings, you could ask the question, “How do you feel when you see a police officer?”
 

2. Share your own experience in reference to the Bible.

3. After studying the lesson to determine the meaning of a text, ask open-ended questions about the text that must be answered by reference to experience.

Example:
Matthew 11:30: “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Ask, “Do you find it easy or hard to be a Christian?” Follow with “What do you think this text is saying in reference to your experience?” Each of these questions allows room for qualification and more discussion related to experience.

4. If attendees are reluctant to talk about experience, ask experiential questions dealing with generalities. People will answer from their own experience.

Example:
“Do you think people today in general invest more or less time in reading their Bibles and praying than people did 10 years ago?” Go on to ask, “Why do you think this is the case? What can be done about this situation?”

5. If members are sharing experience without referring to the Bible, lead them to the Bible in a number of ways.

Examples:

  • “Can you think of anything in today’s Bible study that sheds light on this?”
  • Introduce a text that applies to the experience being discussed.
  • Share your own similar experiences and testify about how the Bible gave you strength and direction to make a change, repair a relationship, overcome a fear, or accept a challenge.

Something to Think About
“Two major emphases stand out in 1Timothy: Threats to the church from false teachers and their teachings, and how to meet those threats doctrinally and organizationally. Paul characterizes the false teachers very clearly. They promote controversies and are overly self-confident (1:4, 7). They are hypocritical, liars, conscience-seared, and attempt to control people’s personal lives and lifestyles (4:2, 3). They are conceited, devoid of understanding, have an unhealthy interest in controversies and arguments, and are out for financial gain (6:4). What a scathing indictment!

And what is the content of their teaching? Myths, endless genealogies, meaningless talk (1:3, 6); godless myths and old wives tales (4:7); godless chatter; and false knowledge (6:20). (See also 2 Timothy 2:16; 3:4; Titus 1:14; 3:9). The best cure for heresy is sound doctrine. That is why Paul places such a premium on the services of leaders, especially those who are able to preach and teach well (5:17)” (Charles E. Bradford, The Abundant Life Bible Amplifier: Timothy and Titus, p. 29).

“In any age there is the danger that Christian teachers will become sidetracked by nonessentials and irrelevant ideas” ( ibid., p. 34).

“Error is best detected, not by extensive knowledge of the counterfeit, but by a thorough knowledge of truth” ( ibid., p. 35).

Seminar Evaluation
l. According to quotations in this lesson taken from In Heavenly Places, which of the following statements or questions reflect ingredients included in a living experience?
Circle Yes (included) or No (not included).

  • I was tempted to shout back. Yes No
  • Will we be male and female in heaven? Yes No
  • I am praying for more joy in my heart. Yes No
  • How does a person stop caring too much? Yes No
  • Will there ever be peace in the Middle East? Yes No

2. Teacher uses Bible-based icebreakers to maintain focus.

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3. Teacher demonstrates options for focusing the discussion.

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4. Teacher does not use force, give directives, or demand certain behavior.

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5. Class members talk about victories as well as trials and temptations.

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6. Teacher fosters an environment for discussion of experiences in relation to the Bible.

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Total Possible: 100       Your Score:              
(Add circled numbers plus 10 points for each correct answer in question 1).

Answer Key for Question 1.

  • Yes
  • No
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • No

James Kilmer
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists