Posted by Milo Hurley for June 2, 2012 Sabbath School
“The Bystander Effect”
One can find many examples on the internet of the bystander effect, “the reluctance to offer help to a stranger.”1 The teacher’s edition of this week’s lesson has a few examples on page 109. The intriguing thing about this principle is, the bigger the crowd, the less likely someone will stop to help. So your chances of surviving a heart attack are better in a quiet setting than on a busy sidewalk!
Discussion Point: Think about the stranger who is suffering not physically but spiritually. How can the bystander effect hinder us from sharing the gospel?
Many summers ago (I think 1992) I had an opportunity to assist a pastor in his work with two small churches. I’ll never forget the two weeks he left me “in charge” while he was on a trip. Problem was, I wasn’t sure what “in charge” really meant. Those two weeks ended with a few upset church members, one of whom castigated me for “running a Milo dictatorship.” Remaining calm, I could only apologize for misunderstanding my duties. Finishing that summer, I became aware that shepherding was not my gift — and awakened to a profound new respect for the shepherd’s role.
Discussion Point: The last time somebody criticized a sermon, did you join the prattle, or did you ask that person if he or she had ever preached? The same principle applies to any type of ministry, whether telling a children’s story or taking fliers door-to-door. If we pick to pieces something we’ve never done ourselves, we’re sitting in the armchair!2
Oil Can Henry’s. They offer a Famous 20-Point Full-Service Oil Change. They even give you a newspaper to read while you wait. And yet, in spite of advertising as “the one you can trust,” the last time they serviced my car was when they overfilled the oil and didn’t seal the air filter. That disappointment was just another reminder of an old reality: if you want something done right, do it yourself!
Discussion Point: How can those of us in various capacities of church leadership avoid bringing such skepticism into our worship or witnessing? How can we avoid the if-you-want-something-done-right-do-it-yourself attitude?
Judges and Deacons
1. The following questions are based on Exodus 18:13-26:
- How was the first Israelite judiciary organized?
- What qualifications were essential for a judge?
- How would rejecting versus following Jethro’s counsel affect both Moses and the people?
- What work was Moses able to do as a result of this new judiciary? (hint: Mount Sinai)
2. The following questions are based on Acts 6:1-8:
- Were the first deacons limited to serving tables?
- What qualifications were essential for a deacon?
- How did Stephen stand out from his fellow appointees?
- What resulted from this new system of church government?