For about 13-14 years, I taught an adult Sunday school class involving a video and discussion. I had not dreamed up the idea. The teacher of the class wanted to step down, and I volunteered to continue the class. At rally day of my first year of teaching the class, I started to regret taking over the class.
The minister loved to address the class as the adult video … discussion class. That usually got a few laughs from the parents who had just dropped off their children. These parents had no intention of ever attending Sunday school themselves. It never got anyone to be curious enough to actually show up. I maintained a group of about 12 regulars and 6 or 8 occasional attendees. If the name of the class had worked, they would have been disappointed to see R. C. Sproul lecturing on his chalkboard or Max Lucado telling a modern story that parallels a Biblical story. They’d get frustrated if they were caught in an interesting moment of a feature length film and suddenly the teacher turns off the video to have a discussion about what they just saw. “What happens next?” they might ask. “Oh, you have to come back next week.”
But that is the way I conducted the class, blending feature length films with discussion series. Most of the videos had no discussion guide. I would watch the video once for timing. I would watch a portion again to find a good place to stop (if a feature film). I would take notes on the second pass through, but often had to go through a third time to write the discussion questions. I loved the deep personal questions. My wife kept saying that she should never have been listed as the co-leader of the class, but she served two functions. She would end the class with a poem or devotional message that paralleled the topic of the discussion followed by prayer, but the other contribution was equally as important. She took my deeply personal question that would never be answered by anyone in the class, and she softened it to get the class talking. She was astute enough to know how long the uncomfortable silence should last. Although the class never said anything out loud, they were thinking of that deeply personal answer to the question, then my wife gave them an outlet that felt safe.
I was troubled by the pastor’s joke about the name of the class, admittedly having said it once or twice myself. Something had to be done. I enjoy listening to 40s music, especially the instrumentals. There used to be a channel on our cable system devoted to Big Band and Swing music. They’ve since combined it with the Singers channel, and it is now almost all vocal music. But while it lasted, I read the interesting facts that ran across the screen while the music was playing. I would then go on-line and research different artists in more detail.
When in earnest prayer over how to put a new coat of paint on our Sunday school class, I suddenly thought of Kay Kiser. He was “a professor in the college of musical knowledge”. It rhymed and it had a nice rhythm. It suddenly hit me, “The Video College of Biblical Knowledge” was born. No prior Biblical knowledge was required. Just bring an open mind. It didn’t seem to attract new members to the class, but the other adult Sunday school teachers wanted a cool name for their class too.