My wife is a truly amazing instructor. Creative, loving, sensitive and effective, her little ones adore Ms. Thompson.
With nearly 20 years of experience she has pretty much seen it all. But this year she’s been presented the unique challenge of most her children being boys. She noted something interesting: boys have very different learning styles from girls.
Yet, the vast majority of educational techniques and methodologies are designed for and cater to the learning styles of girls. From classroom design to curriculum, schools are built with girls in mind. Few men teach younger grades and the male-to-female teacher ratio is generally lopsided.
Now the impact of the feminization of education is a raging debate among experts. I’m not one so I don’t plan to weigh in. But having taught literally tens of thousands of adults in both church and secular settings for over 30 years, I know this to be true:
…men are just grown up boys! We still learn differently than girls.
I admit, my most memorable and shaping teachers were women. Except for one: Coach Sallaz.
He was our football coach–but remembered far more as the greatest history teacher ever. He could get junior high students on the edge of their seats with his vivid and animated stories of Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan and Douglas MacArthur. He related historical events while pacing wildly around the room…you walked out of class feeling as if you had been there.
He taught like a man making men.
So did Jesus.
His classrooms were vineyards, mountains and desert roads. His teaching aids were sheep, fig trees and action stories. His style was authentic, practical and often in-your-face. He was teaching men and really understood His audience.
A recent blog post caught my eye: “Do men want to study the Bible?” The underlying question seemed to be were men disinterested or distracted when it came to learning the Word.
My immediate reaction was: Men want to study the Bible–just not like women study the Bible.
Much like our feminized educational system, most churches try to teach men Scripture with methods designed for the learning styles of women. Generally, that just doesn’t work.
Most men I know are interested in applicable, tactile, useful, visceral truth. We want to study like archaeologists and be challenged like survivalists. We want to wrestle with the Word, grapple with challenging thoughts, debate with other men…in short, we want Bible study to be manly. Hands on–elbow deep in applied truth. I don’t want to generalize men, but I think it is true for most of us whether sportsmen, academics, geeks or techies.
Face it, the Bible offers so much for men! Wars and warriors; hunters and adventurers; giants, firestorms, floods and fishing. There are murder mysteries, love sagas, battlefield heroics and incredible comeback stories. For men, boredom is second only to heresy when teaching the Word!
The church simply needs to unleash the undomesticated, unfiltered and undiluted Word. Turn it loose on men! The day of tame, timid and tepid Scripture is past. We need raw, radical Word that challenges and changes men hungry for a passionate pursuit of God.
In short, not yo’ mama’s Bible Study!
And today men can enjoy the adventure of Scripture with methods and techniques that bring it alive for us. So here’s a couple of practical steps (since we guys like punch lists and seven steps to everything):
First, turn the Bible loose in your life to be what it is: the dynamic, raw history of God’s active power and grace in the earth. Take the filter off the Scripture and the blinders off your eyes. Let the power of the Word do its eternally creative work in your life. (Hebrews 4:12-13)
Second, equip yourself with the tools that make your study an adventure and a challenge. It’s not difficult in this day to experience the Word as accessible, fascinating and practical.
For me, Bible Gateway is essential in that process. I work in the tech sector and live on a computer, tablet and smart phone. I love that I am able to do my study efficiently and effectively using tools that intrigue my mind while involving my technical skills.
- With all the versions available, I feel like Indiana Jones unearthing all sorts of treasures from generations past.
- For guys who are listening learners, they have awesome audio Bibles.
- The tablet and phone version of Bible Gateway (app) let me take the Word with me everywhere. I’ve literally used them on planes, trains and automobiles!
- For structure nuts, there are reading plans and devotionals.
There is just no excuse for not going after the Bible like you do a great steak–devour, digest and come back for seconds!
This is not yo’ mama’s Bible study!
*By the way, the new Beta version of Bible Gateway is a real step forward.