BIBLE CLASSES

Teachers of our Bible classes understand the Bible to be not just a typical textbook. Rather, they allow the living, active Word to engage their students with its relevance to their lives today through study, open dialogue and application. 


 


 

A Faithful Path
From Teaching Mothers to Their Children

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Eighteen years ago, as a young mother, Mrs. Naifeh became involved in a Bible study taught by Iva May, author of the now popular worldwide Chronological Bible Teaching (CBT) curriculum. In an effort to teach the larger, overarching story of the Bible –  that we as sinful people need redemption offered only by trusting in Jesus, our Savior – Iva May wrote a Bible study that exposits the common redemptive theme in each story of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.

As a student, Mrs. Naifeh devoured every Bible lesson from this study. Mrs. May encouraged her to relay her new enthusiastic understanding by teaching it to other women. And that is exactly what she did. Twelve years and nine groups later, Mrs. Naifeh has taught more than 100 women in CBT studies and has trained about 10 leaders to start groups of their own. “In a gentle, navigating way, the Lord got me involved in Chronological Bible Teaching,” Mrs. Naifeh remembers. While teaching CBT small groups, she adds, “I felt for the first time a satisfaction that I haven’t experienced in business (her previous career), and I realized the difference between a job and a passion.”

“In a gentle, navigating way, the Lord got me involved in Chronological Bible Teaching,” Mrs. Naifeh remembers. While teaching CBT small groups, she adds, “I felt for the first time a satisfaction that I haven’t experienced in business (her previous career), and I realized the difference between a job and a passion.”

As an ECS mother, who led the Shelby Farms campus Moms in Prayer group for the four years prior to working fulltime, she spearheaded the implementation of CBT small groups of mothers within each grade, kindergarten through twelfth grade. She also began to lead a group of ECS faculty and staff through this Bible study as well.

So how does one go from leading dozens of women’s CBT studies to teaching Bible classes to eighth, ninth and tenth grade boys and girls? Mrs. Naifeh admits that this first-year transition from teaching mothers to teaching, in many cases, her former students’ own children, has had its share of challenges and triumphs.

The first challenge was the difference in ages. “I knew the audience was going to be different. I have to do my part in studying my students and remind myself of where I was when I was their age. I was a teenager too, and I went to a school very much like theirs,” Mrs. Naifeh remembers. “I had the same upbringing that they sit in now. I want everyone to proclaim Christ, but I understand they all may not be there yet. This has kept me on my knees for God’s guidance.”

Her 18 years as a stay-at-home mom with children a few years older than her students helps her relate to them. “I am thankful for the journey that has prepared me for this moment. Now I am a teacher, but I am also a mom, and there is a sweetness of bringing that experience with me.” Having just launched her oldest to college last year and her youngest this year, she understands the issues and temptations teenagers are confronted with today. As a disciple of Jesus, she shares words of wisdom so they can learn from her. I tell them: ‘I want you to know a few things: I will always love you; I will never judge you, but I will always speak the truth of God’s Word to you.’ When giving truth in love without judgment, it’s love.

“I want to equip them for the journey ahead,” Mrs. Naifeh explains. “When students come to me, I want them to feel comfortable to speak their mind. I don’t want to stuff anything down their throats, but I also have to lay it all out. I want to equip them to make their decisions with truths from the Bible. I tell them, ‘Pack this in your suitcase for the journey ahead. You might need this truth for later, even if you don’t accept it now.’”

The other major adjustment was how to adapt the Chronological Bible Teaching curriculum into a four-day-a-week 50-minute class schedule. Mrs. Naifeh established a rhythm which involved students reading the Bible and writing about what they learned in their journals at home, then summarizing their findings in small groups to share with the class. “We first read the Scripture out loud, then we used the Socratic Method: I asked them, ‘What were your takeaways? What character of God do you see today? What is the evidence? What affected your belief system today? What challenged you to act differently?’”

Finally, the burden of assessing some Bible class assignments presented its own set of challenges. Mrs. Naifeh shared about a journal exercise in which students had to answer the question: What do I love and why? in an effort to have them ask questions and feel comfortable wrestling with hard things. One quiet eighth grade girl posed, ‘When Jesus was on the cross, I wonder if He was thinking more about the pain he was suffering or how many people he would save?’ I think that is powerful because she is thinking about His suffering for our sake and the sake of others. How do I assess that journal when she has such profound thoughts?

“It’s amazing how many times I’ve seen a light bulb come on.” While Mrs. Naifeh admits that stories like these are rewarding, she knows it’s not about her. “It’s not about my skills; it’s about the Word of God being powerful for all. I cling to Isaiah 55:10-11:

‘For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.’

“I’m standing on God’s promises that His Word will mold my students’ hearts and minds.” Mrs. Naifeh adds, “I don’t need to see the results. I just need to be faithful.”

“I’m standing on God’s promises that His Word will mold my students’ hearts and minds.” Mrs. Naifeh adds, “I don’t need to see the results. I just need to be faithful.”

Mark Brink
Senior Bible Teacher

Robert Jones
Bible Department Chair;
8th and 11th Grade Bible Teacher

Kathryn Naifeh
9th and 10th Grade Bible Teacher

Paul Warner
7th and 8th Grade Bible Teacher

Jack Webb
3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade Bible Teacher