We must remove the distractions and say only what is eternally important.
Today, perhaps as never before in human history, people find themselves in the middle of a constant battle for their attention. When people enter the classroom to hear the Word of God, this battle intensifies. As such, the teacher is not only fighting for the class to hear the Word of God in a fresh way, they must first fight through any number of distractions which are competing for the attention of the class.
The distractions generally take one of two forms. There are the obvious distractions such as cell phones, external noises, and whispering amongst students. These obvious distractions are best ignored and will usually fade as the Word of God begins to captivate the class.
The more subtle form of distraction is the type of distraction which masquerades as a search for an understanding of the Biblical text. The key to avoiding these subtle distractions is twofold: 1) Remember that we are reading the Bible as if we have never opened it before and, 2) Take pains to reiterate that the Word of God is for each and every person in the class. As such, it must be understood that the Word is being taught and received in an intimate fashion, regardless of the size of the class.
For example, when teaching the story of Creation presented in Genesis, there may arise a question as to whether the days of creation are literal 24 hour days or are meant to represent a longer periods of evolutionary change. While this may be a profound theological question which inspires a lively debate in the class, you can see how allowing the class to be distracted by this debate destroys any opportunity for the class to receive the words of Genesis in a personal fashion.
For example, in Genesis 2:7, we are confronted with the following,
“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
That is intimate! Imagine, the Living God breathing in our nostrils! A theological debate can add nothing to this beautiful imagery, and while scholarly debate may appeal to the intellect, it will do nothing to radically change the lives of those who listen.
When teaching the Word of God, scholarly debate is a distraction to be avoided.
As teachers, we must remove the distractions and say only what is eternally important. Only then can the class take the cup of the Word of the Living God and drink it deeply into their souls.