Module 9: Biblical Experiential Learning, Part 2
Upon completion of this module the learner will be equipped to:
- Create a climate for spiritual transformation.
- Demonstrate Jesus’ way of finding access to minds.
- Explain the difference between biblical experiential learning and secular humanistic support groups.
The goal of experiential learning is to grow in one’s Christian experience. This means the learner will demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, and peace will increasingly be manifest in the life of the learner, along with obedience, temperance, and maturing faith.
It is generally accepted in religious education circles that at points of crisis people are open to change. When people bring their crises to class and interact with those who have met similar situations with faith, the greatest potential for change takes place. For this reason members of the class should ask seekers to join with them as they share experiences.
In order to get at the heart of human experience, it is essential to create a climate in which people feel free to share their inmost spiritual needs with the group. When talking to the woman at the well, Jesus demonstrated the kind of atmosphere that is needed for such a class. “Jesus had convinced her that He read the secrets of her life; yet she felt that He was her friend, pitying and loving her” (The Desire of Ages, p. 189). Members must be convinced that they have the love and sympathy of the leader and other class members, even when they expose inadequacies in their Christian experience.
Jesus used the following additional methods to bring about change in the lives of His disciples. I have separated the quotation into eight bulleted segments to facilitate closer scrutiny.
- “Jesus found access to minds by the pathway of their most familiar associations.
- “He disturbed as little as possible their accustomed train of thought by abrupt actions or prescribed rules.
- “He honored man with His confidence, and thus placed him on his honor.
- “He introduced old truths in a new and precious light. . . .
- “He brings men under the transforming power of truth by meeting them where they are.
- “He gains access to the heart by securing sympathy and confidence, making all feel that His identification with their nature and interest is complete.
- “The truth came from His lips beautiful in its simplicity, yet clothed with dignity and power. . . .
- “How tenderly did He treat every honest inquirer after truth, that He might gain admission to his sympathies, and find a home in his heart” (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 190).
Beware. The teacher or discussion leader should be careful, however, not to confuse Christian love and acceptance with the techniques of humanistic support groups.
“Corruptions of every type, similar to those existing among the antediluvians, will be brought in to take minds captive. The exaltation of nature as God, the unrestrained license of the human will, the counsel of the ungodly—these Satan uses as agencies to bring about certain ends. He will employ the power of mind over mind to carry out his designs. The most sorrowful thought of all is that under his deceptive influence men will have a form of godliness, without having a real connection with God” (Testimonies, vol. 8, pp. 293, 294).
Let’s contrast the humanistic group with the following attributes of the biblically defined Christian small group:
- Uses conversation that is upright, pure, holy (1 Peter 1:15), and does not dwell on corrupt practices (Eph. 5:12).
- Uses the Bible as the rule of faith and practice (Matt. 4:4). Has the goal of re-creation as a new creature in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17).
- Depends upon prayer, the Holy Spirit, and the power contained in the Bible to transform lives (Rom. 12:2; Titus 3:5).
- Has the goal of growing into the likeness of Christ (Eph. 4:13).
- Deals with guilt not only through confession of sins but through faith in the blood of Christ (Eph. 1:7).
If the teacher or discussion leader is not intentional about conducting the class according to these biblical guidelines, small group dynamics may be influenced by the humanistic tendencies that are prevalent in society.
An example: A group member says, “I got so mad at the phone company that I wanted to swear.” The teacher-facilitator laughs and says, “I can certainly identify with that.”
This response is appropriate Christian fellowship only if it is followed by a testimony of how the Christian experiences victory. Otherwise, the man or woman who talks about a sinful desire may take human acceptance for his or her tendencies as a comforting excuse for sin.
Can you think of similar experiences that have transpired in your class?
Were you satisfied with how they were addressed by your other members of the group?
How will you respond differently?
If remedial steps are in order, how will you initiate the discussion with another member or leader?
Mark 4:8, 20: “And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. . . . And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.”
The following evaluation is designed for teachers to measure their comprehension of materials presented in this module.
- List five methods that Jesus used to bring about change in the lives of others.
- List five differences between humanistic group sharing and biblical experiential group sharing.
Total Possible: 100 Your Score:
10 points for each right answer.
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists