Tell me what you are thinking at the end of this scenario . . . . .
I ask you out to lunch — It’s on me!
I pick you up, and we are off to a very nice restaurant.
After some small talk, we arrive!
You notice the restaurant’s name — “Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant.”
Various individuals will respond differently to this restaurant signage. There will be those who love hot and spicy food. Others are hoping that there are some dishes on the menu which are not at all spicy. And then there are those in between those two ends of the spectrum.
While you are not an individual who enjoys spicy-hot food, you found a dish that worked for you. In the end, we enjoyed a great time together.
- The atmosphere was great.
- The service was spot on.
- The other people in the restaurant were courteous
- The food seemed authentic, and the quality seemed to be terrific — if you like this kind of culinary option genre. It was a “little more” spicy than you prefer.
As we go our ways, I say . . . .
“Thanks for your time and thinking. It was a real help to me and helped me in my personal and professional growth! How about we do this again in several weeks — If I can have some more of your time!”
“Sure, just let me know when. – – Glad I could help and thanks for lunch!”
A month or so later, I ask if I can have more of your time over lunch sometime this week.
You enjoyed the previous time — at least socially.
The food wasn’t your “cup of tea,” but it worked.
You imagine that we will go to a different restaurant this time.
You respond . . . . .
That day arrives. I again pick you up.
After some small talk, we arrive!
Just one hitch — It’s the “Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant” — again!
Your thoughts ? ? ? — “I think that I need to do the inviting and therefore the restaurant selection!”
Nevertheless, you order the same semi-spicy dish on the menu and again enjoy the social interaction.
Zoom forward another month — and I again ask if you have time to talk over lunch — “I could really use your thinking, input, and insights!”
You respond . . . .”How about I take you out this time. You have picked up the tab twice now. It’s my turn!”
I respond . . . . “No — I am really appreciative of the time you have and are willing to give me over and over. Please, I need to at least say thanks you for your willingness to just be there for me!” 
. . . . . .
Without extending this scenario . . . . might I suggest that this situation plays out week after week in many churches that provide few options for spiritual nourishment. In some churches, there is only one option available for seniors, or for families, or for singles, or even for teens (13-19). The people are presented with the same restaurant and/or “restaurateur” week after week, with few or no real options.
Whether the individuals, couples, or teens enjoy what is on the menu, they are forced to pull up to the same spiritual restaurant week after week. If the truth were told, they would really like to attend the class taught by “Mr. Jones” this year or for this coming quarter. The subject may be more pertinent to their lives, the teacher may connect better, the class structure seems to allow more engagement, the teacher shows more interest and personal concern, the study involves something of great interest, etc. . . . . .
Nevertheless, that isn’t their assigned class. They are supposed to be in the class for new and growing families, or young singles, or senior saints. Enjoy what’s on the menu or not, that’s your class, and who you are to listen to week after week — month after month — year after year!
A lack of classroom, subject, fellow participants, and teacher options may be what is holding back a good number of individuals from attending Sunday morning Bible study. Some have attended this-or-that class and find that they do not benefit from the class, but there are no options available. This is your class! This is your teacher. We decided that for you!
Were the Bible study time to offer the availability of several classes, various teachers, and/or different topics of study, many others might be open to attending. A number of people might be willing to at least giving it a new try. Others might be spiritually challenged by hearing a new or different voice, or a by a class that frames biblical truths differently.
Variety has the potential of reaching more people.
- The day-to-day experiences of individuals and families can be vastly different.
- There are differences in regards to classroom style — lecture, discussion, size, location, etc.
- The spiritual age of individuals differs and requires different content.
- The interestingness of subject material greatly varies.
- Different Bible studies accomplish different goals.
While some Bible teachers would like to avoid any potential competition, in the end they don’t avoid it. Those who do not want to attend their class, and have only one option, just stay away. The competition is ever-present. It is between staying home or attending that class.
Yes, the core group of church members will be present no matter what the “menu options.” But even they would like some other menu options because that is how we were created — to elude repetition and monotony.
Bible study attendance may well languish because it is back to the same restaurant, week after week, whether or not you like the options on the menu! Weak Bible study attendance may not be indicative of the hearts of God’s people growing cold. It may not be them. It may be a lack of meaningful options! It may indicate a desire for a time of Bible study that is seen as more beneficial and/or relevant to their lives — at this time of life and experience.
Sunday morning adult Bible study options can be a valuable help in getting people to connect and attend (and re-attend) Bible study in a way that is meaningful and satisfying for them personally.
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“Hey, can I take you out to lunch sometime this week?”
“How about I take you out this Sunday — to the adult Bible class at my church!”
1. Worse yet, he orders for you!
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P.S. No I am not making any reference to something which has happened to me. I enjoy all kinds of foods and there is no subtle reference to such a situation. Thanks to a wide variety of people who have been kind enough to socially engage over all and any meals throughout the years!