In addition to the perspectives needed to adapt provided in the last post, we also need the right purpose if we’re going to take a biblical approach to adapting in our ministries.
Reasons Bible Teachers Might Give for Adapting
We might think Bible teachers should be adaptable to keep up with the times in which we live. If we’re going to attract students to our classes we need to show them that we’re relevant and current, tolerant and accepting, innovative and creative.
We might reason that Bible teachers need to be adaptable in order to be good teachers. As they stretch themselves, sometimes beyond their comfort zones, in order to be flexible in their teaching, they could become more creative teachers and potentially have better lessons.
While the above mentioned reasons have some merit, a look at 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 takes us to a deeper purpose behind adapting. It’s about more than looking relevant. It’s about more than being a good teacher or teaching great lessons.
The Biblical Purpose Behind Adapting
The Apostle Paul gave these reasons for being adaptable:
I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. (1 Cor. 9:19)
I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. (1 Cor. 9:22)
I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. (1 Cor. 9:23)
Paul was willing to do almost anything, apart from sin, if it would lead people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. As an evangelist, Paul’s objective behind adapting related primarily to the saving of souls through the power of the Gospel. Elsewhere Paul said, “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” (1 Cor. 10:32-33)
We too should adapt as needed to lead students who don’t know Jesus to accept Him as their Savior. But as Bible teachers our prime objective would be to see lives transformed into more fully devoted followers of Jesus. We should be willing to do what it takes, apart from sin, to not only “make disciples” in terms of salvation but also in “teaching them to obey everything” Jesus commanded (Matt. 28:18-20).
When Bible teachers adapt to where their students are, they’re then able to take students to the next step in their spiritual journey. People can usually only understand one step beyond where they are. If we don’t reach people where they are we are likely going to try to take them to someplace they are not yet ready to go.
Teacher Training Resource: Teacher’s Role in Discipling Students Toward Spiritual Growth