Since the birth of BBC in 1972, the church has run a Sunday School ministry, which has catered for both adults and children. At the annual Elders’ Planning Meeting in November 2003, the pastors of the church discussed the church’s approach to Sunday School and evaluated the need for such a ministry. Is the Sunday School still a relevant ministry of the church? Is it biblically justifiable? The conclusion was that Sunday School certainly does have a place in the ministry of BBC.
Once that question was settled, it was considered what could be done to increase the commitment of the membership to this ministry. It was obvious at the time that only some 60%—if that!—of the church was truly committed to this ministry. This clearly showed that there was much room for improvement.
There is a clear and important relationship between the church and the family. Parents are to instruct their children in the things of God, and the church is to help the family to do this. In this respect, Sunday School has a role to play, in that it aids the family in the instruction of children—as well as adults (which should help parents to instruct their children). The pastors of the church have the responsibility to help the church, both young and old, to be firmly grounded in God’s Word. As these varying responsibilities were considered it was concluded that it would be beneficial for the entire church—at least from the youth through the adult segment of the membership—to be grounded quite literally on the same page of Scripture each week. That is, it would benefit the church at large, from youth to seniors, to study the same portion of Scripture each week, albeit in separate ministry or interest groups. In light of these conclusions we committed to implementing Family Bible Hour (FBH).
The purpose of FBH is for the church at large to gather in various classes (generally according to age) to study the same passage of Scripture. Lesson pages are prepared ahead of time, so church members can spend time in private and in families focusing on the chapter(s) to be discussed the coming Sunday.
Though not required, it is advised that church members use these weekly handouts for meditation during the week. This serves to grant a better understanding the chapter(s) to be taught on the Lord’s Day, and also helps to generate discussion in class time. FBH is less of a lecture style than some other ministries in the church. Though it is certainly their job to biblically instruct, FBH teachers are really facilitators. They prepare beforehand but seek to guide discussion rather than give a discourse. Sundays at BBC already contain two preaching sessions (at the morning and evening worship services). That is perfectly acceptable (preaching is, after all, the God-ordained means of spreading the gospel and instructing believers—see 1 Corinthians 1:17-25), but two preaching sessions on a Sunday are sufficient. There is no need to have another monologue; therefore discussion is encouraged in FBH.
We believe that FBH is a ministry consistent with biblical precepts, precedent and principles. It is therefore fair to conclude that FBH is rooted in biblical philosophy rather than in human or social pragmatism. There is no direct command in Scripture for a church to have a FBH, but the concept is biblically commended.
We believe that if we remain committed to FBH, it will strengthen our church in such a way that the church can expand and grow. As the family bond is strengthened, the church will begin to reproduce.
FBH is a ministry of excellence and therefore commitment to FBH serves to strengthen BBC for the glory and honour of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Note: We completed our ten-year journey through the Bible in the third quarter of 2014. At present, we have opted to take a break from this format and instead offer some elective courses dealing with various subjects from a biblical perspective. We plan to revisit our approach to FBH in 2015, either returning to our approach of studying books of the Bible, or moving forward with an alternative plan.