Monday, November 12, 2007

Looking For The Right Hook

I read a great line last night in a book. I'm not going to quote it directly, but it basically said, "He had no hook to hang that thought on."

I love that!!! No hook to hang that thought on. I've been there, have you? The first time I heard someone wonder out loud if the church should be running a food pantry and clothing ministry I felt this way.

What do you mean? Of COURSE the church should feed the hungry and clothe the naked, etc. Haven't you read this passage?

But then my friend wondered aloud if that passage meant the church (as an organization) should coordinate and fund those efforts, or if the members of the church (in their personal lives) should do that. Oh. Hmm. Never thought about it.

After that, I had a new hook. It was called "Things the Church Should Do vs. Things I Should Do." I didn't have many thoughts to hang on that hook at first, but over the years I have hung other thoughts there. More topics have come to my attention than just the food pantry debate.

If I were discussing this subject with someone who had never thought about these things, they probably wouldn't have much to contribute to the conversation except knee-jerk thoughts (like I did) or confusion. Because, after all, they have nowhere to hang the thought. Other folks, who had themselves thought through such topics, would have more to share and probably new stuff for me to think about. Or at least hang up until I could get to it.

This is my concern with adult Bible classes that don't study the Bible. I've been to them in several different churches. Perhaps they are studying a book. Or perhaps they are studying a topic but the participants don't know exactly what part of the Bible they will be talking about that day. If you come to class that unprepared, what can you possibly contribute to the discussion?

Two things: a knee-jerk reaction to the question or a thought-out answer from one of your many hooks. Oh, you can also add in emotions and personal experiences. None of these are bad in and of themselves (well, except maybe that first one), but they don't lend themselves to much study of God's word.

So someone brought up the topic of why men aren't in church these days in our class this last Sunday. It was met with a bunch of blank stares (no hook--they had no hook!) and some emotional knee-jerk reactions ("That's not true!!!!") But there was no discussion. No one else in the room had anything to add to that topic, because it had never been thought about. Plus, hard topics are not really popular.

Isn't it just easier to say, "We are going to be studying this passage next Sunday. Please read and study it this week."? At least that way everyone in class would be on more level ground when they begin the discussion.

Sigh. Wouldn't that be nice?


  1. What a great thought: looking for the right hook. I took a minute to find a hook for your thoughts on things such as should churches be funding and facilitate projects like feeding and clothing the poor. My hook: I believe that scripturally we are admonished to make these types of mercy ministries a part of our individual daily lives. There are some of us who, for whatever reasons (in our cases, raising small children), don't have the time in this season to devote a lot of time to these types of things. There is an elderly widow who lives next doo to me. I can minister to her (and do) by visiting her and keeping her company. I think that participation in mercy ministries through involvement with our churches can be a good thing. I took the time to look up scripture and I don't see a specific admonition that we can't do these things as part of a church group. While I admit, there is less sacrifice of our material possessions this way, I think the volunteering of our time is important as well. Sorry for the book. As usual, you just got me thinking.

  2. I think the hook is a brilliant illustration. And very true, too. That's why I love to be challenged: looking for hooks is the best way of learning!

  3. This was a great post. As a Home Group Bible Study leader I would love it if those in our group would prepare a little more for the next week. I think I would love to have you in our group.



I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)