Monday Morning Open Thread—What was the Best Adult Education Class you have ever Attended and why?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am interested in the following: where was it offered, who taught it, what aids did you use if any (book, video), how long did it last (both the classes themselves as well as the overall course), and, most especially, WHY did it have such a big impact on you? Any other details are of course welcome. Many thanks--KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult Education* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetReligion & Culture

Posted August 30, 2010 at 9:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. montanan wrote:

Financial Peace University (Dave Ramsey course); offered at another church in town; roughly 2 hours per night, 13 nights (one per week); DVD series + workbook.  My wife and I took it.  It changed our financial status hugely, was fun and improved our ability to understand how each of us thinks about money and to communicate around those differences, setting common goals - in truth, it significantly improved the quality of our marriage, helping fix areas I didn’t even realize were problematic.  We took it a few years ago and now run a class through our church.  The best part is the part about giving.  We are sponsoring our teenage son to take it this time.  (His youth group also did a Dave Ramsey series a number of years ago.)

August 30, 10:16 am | [comment link]
2. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

Without a doubt, Bible Study Fellowship, which at the time was a seven-year cycle (now eight) of reasonably rigorous interdenominational study for 32 weeks each year. Especially helpful is that over 700 class groups across the US are all studying the same material each week, so when travelling it is fairly easy to continue with the class.

A large part of the impact arises from the small group discussions examining how key aspects of that week’s study can be applied in our lives. It’s an excellent discipleship tool and quite thorough for something outside of biblical academia.

August 30, 10:18 am | [comment link]
3. Crabby in MD wrote:

A 2-year Bible survey class called, “Foundation for Ministry”.  Basically borrowed a seminary syllabus and plowed through the Old Testament the first year, and the New the second.  Taken at All Saints’, Dale City about 15 years ago, though they are still offering it today.  Ground all the way thru the scriptures (it was my first time), with lots of support and some really great discussion questions in small groups that not only kept you coming back for more, but were life-changing as I grasped just how big God’s plan really is!

August 30, 11:07 am | [comment link]
4. Ralinda wrote:

I’ll put my vote in for Bible Study Fellowship as well.  When I finished the 7 years, I joined my parish Tuesday Bible Study (TBS) which is very similar, but less rigid in its administration and not as much homework.  We use the NavPress Life Changes series workbooks to prepare for class.  Class consists of a 45+ minute lecture and then small group discussion.  Our discussion questions are mostly “application” and only a few are drawn from the workbook.  TBS draws about a hundred people (amazing for a morning class) from our parish and elsewhere.
My other favorite has been the 6-8 lesson evening classes taught at our parish by Dr. Duane Garrett, OT professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He teaches one or two classes a year.  We pray first, then he lectures for about 45 minutes and opens it up for questions.  He’s taught Proverbs, Exodus, OT prophecy about Christ, and a few others.  Very in-depth and he points out the application for our lives throughout each lesson.  Some retirees have ended up auditing his seminary courses—he’s that good!

August 30, 11:23 am | [comment link]
5. Mark Johnson wrote:

A few years ago I took a class offered at our parish on the Hymnal 1982. I never realized how little I knew that was in the book. We had one of the editors come and explain how it was all put together and the hymns selected (as well as interesting stories about what/why some made it and some didn’t), we had five or six hymn writers who were in the hymnal come in at different times and present their hymns to us. It really opened my eyes to paying more attention to what was being sung each week, and I have since used the hymnal as a type of second prayer book - so many of the hymns have wonderful words/prayers to offer. It also opened up our parish to using more hymns from the hymnal rather than the same old 40 texts/tunes. I had no idea who Calvin Hampton was before the class, now I view his hymns as some of my favorites because of the wonderful way he sets the words to music (even old favorite hymns that he re-set with a new tune to be more authentic to the text).

August 30, 1:40 pm | [comment link]
6. drjoan wrote:

I, too, have appreciated BSF.  The newest study, Isaiah, will start in a couple of weeks making this an 8-year program—and I anticipate they will add Revelation in a few years!
I also must make a plug for the Bethel Series.  This is a two year program for congregations which takes students through the Bible—Old and New Testament—over those two years.  It is GREAT for congregations.  I first became involved at St. James, Newport Beach and saw the congregation blossom with Biblical literacy.  I must add, however, that many of us there at St. James were also individually involved with BSF.  I think those facts say something!

August 30, 2:40 pm | [comment link]
7. trimom wrote:

The adult ed class that changed our lives was Growing Kids God’s Way by Anne Marie and Gary Ezzo.  It really is a misnomer.  It should have been called ,“Growing Parents God’s Way”. It since has been renamed a couple of times.  At that point in our lives, we were being held hostage by a 2.5 year old.  This class gave us the long view that we were parenting for our children’s holiness, not their happiness.  It was a workbook, video lecture and small group dynamics.  We ended up teaching it in our home parish because we could not find a class in our area. Now, 13 years later, we are in the “coaching” phase of our parenting, having since added two more children to our then recalcitrant daughter, I can truly say I don’t now where our kids/ family would be without it. We constantly are told what wonderful children we have: polite, responsive, mature, living the Christian principles they have been taught. As the parents, we continue to daily put into practice the principles we have learned such as the pre-eminence of the marriage, that the children are part of the family not the focus of it, love languages, etc. We were so very fortunate that God chose to allow us to be shaped by this work.

August 30, 6:48 pm | [comment link]
8. Connie Sandlin wrote:

Adult education classes at St. Francis [now Anglican] Church in Dallas based on 9 month instruction classes of the late Fr. Homer Francis Rogers (a/k/a “Padre).  These lectures are collected in a book titled “The Romance of Orthodoxy” and are the basis for many adult instruction classes in the Diocese of Fort Worth.  The Rogers family continues to sell copies of this book at

The classes had no audio-visual, no gimmicks, just the nurturing and refreshing instruction in the Christian Faith.

August 30, 7:32 pm | [comment link]
9. Crabby in MD wrote:

Trimom:  Our moms’ group in Dale City just had the audio tapes for that class years ago.  From the group of just moms who listened and learned that year grew children that totally transformed the Childrens’ Ministries and now into the Youth Group.  We all had the same rules and our kids knew what to do in each others’ homes, and then we could go so much deeper in ministry with them.  It was a very sweet time.

August 30, 10:43 pm | [comment link]
10. dickwire wrote:

The Bethel Bible Series, a 2-year overview of the biblical narrative. I took the student version at a conservative Presbyterian church in the late 1970s (led by a layman) and the teacher version at an Episcopal church in the early 1990s (led by a female associate rector). The most important aspect was the discipline of getting the big picture by means of artwork and especially the “concepts” or biblical theme tied to book and chapter. (I still carry some of the concepts with me periodically to review them.) This feature was reinforced by the mandatory written assignments (fairly polished essays) as well as quizzes. Finally, the study had the advantage of continuity—not only of content but also of fellow learners that a short class could never offer.
  As to short classes, the best is probably Kerygma’s “Hallelujah! The Bible and Handel’s Messiah.” It focuses on the biblical text (libretto), which was based largely on a superb selection of lectionary readings as they existed in the 1700s. I have led this class in three different churches. This study attracts people who would not ordinarily show up for an Adult Ed class. Its 10 sessions can be divided into 4 for Advent and 6 for Lent.

August 31, 8:12 am | [comment link]
11. Frances S Scott wrote:

The Bethel Series of Adult Bible Study, prepared by the Rev. Harlan Swiggam(ELCA) as a corrective for the weak bible exposure he experienced in seminary.  I was priveleged to take the teacher training track 1962-64 at Redeemer Lutheran(LCMS), Colorado Springs, CO, taught by our pastor the Rev. Edward Busch.

To add to the information offered by dickwire above:
The materials included two large loose leaf binders - OT, minus the wisdom books, and NT.  We signed up for the sessions and paid for our materials for 6 to 7 weeks at a time.  The materials for each lesson included an outline, list of concepts, concept picture, and reading assignment plus suggested additional reading.  The materials also included the large poster size concept pictures that we used to demonstrate our mastery of the concepts.  We met on Wednesday evenings for two hours, beginning in October, breaking for our regular Wed. evening Advent services, resuming early Jan. and breaking for our regular Wed. evening Lenten services, resuming after Easter and finishing before Memorial Day.

In addition to reading the entire bible, memorizing and writing from memory the concepts for each lesson, taking a weekly quiz, section tests, and writing research papers, we also had practice teaching.

I found that I needed a full 2 hours a day, seven days a week to prepare for class.  That meant that my four little kids (8 mo to 4 yrs)had to take a 2 hour nap or rest after lunch every day…and they did!  Miracle of miracles!

At the completion of the course, I was one of the three chosen to teach the congregational phase…same materials, same schedule, 30 students.  When my students completed the course, they asked me to take them through the series again with additional information on the geography and the political history of the surrounding nations as that impinged on the Israelites.  This I did.  Of my students, many have gone home to Jesus, some have moved away and the 5 or 6 who are still at Redeemer are the core members of the ongoing Bible Studies there.

The major impact on my personal life was the pulling together of all the bits and peices I had accumulated over 7 years of parochial school(LCMS), 20+ year of Sunday School/Adult Bible Class, and some 30 college credits in Bible History and Interpretation from my years at Concordia, River Forest, in preparation for teaching in the Lutheran Day School system.  It gave me a sense that the Bible is a comprehensive whole; it is one book.

Professionally it gave me tools and a method of preparing lessons and teaching bible to adults that I still draw on for every class I teach.

Thanks for the opportunity, Kendall.
Frances Scott

August 31, 8:21 pm | [comment link]
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