Thursday, February 23, 2012
I'm sure that God occasionally whispers to us "Don't make me humble you...because I will!"
I share the following "goofs" from my own teaching experience to encourage and (likely) to amuse you. Remember, it's not about us, it's about the message!
(1) I started a class with a stern admonition that I was going to confiscate any cell phones which made noises. Several cell phones had gone off the previous week during class and distracted everyone. "Mute 'em or lose 'em!" I said. People dutifully pulled out phones and put them on mute or turned them off, and I began my hook question to start the lesson. Not sixty seconds went by before the cell phone in my hip holster rang. I had not muted my phone.
(2) My lesson was pretty complicated, using passages from a dozen or so places. I had decided to use thick stock cardboard for markers for each passage, with sequential numbers on them to help me teach through them in the correct order. A friend had suggested thick cardboard because it made easy to turn to the right page and pull them out. I started teaching without the Bible in my hands, and no other notes, confident that my bookmarks would carry the day. When I turned and picked up my Bible, I missed the spine and grabbed the front cover. All the markers fell on the floor. I couldn't remember the order of the verses I had selected, and so wound up teaching something else that week! I told my friend, "Yes, the thick cardboard bookmarks really do come right out."
(3) One time I intended to play a song from Twila Paris from a cassette tape, using a portable "boom box." To this day I still do not know how the "Sing Along with Barney" tape got in the boombox, but it sure was a surprise to my senior citizen class!
(4) I was teaching a biographical view of Abram from Genesis 11-13. I read his name as "Abraham" every time, rather than Abram. Apparently I even explained to my class that "God will give Abraham the name Abraham later one, but he was originally called Abram."
(5) Did you know that coffee cups aren't steady on slanted lecterns? Hmmm? I bet you did. What a mess!
What goofs have you made that you're willing to share with the world?
Sunday, February 19, 2012
There’s a fascinating vignette in Acts 20. Most people talk about Eutychus, a boy who falls asleep, falls from the window, and is raised to life again. I want you to consider another aspect of the story: pay attention to the time duration.
“7 On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. 9 Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. 10 Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” 11 Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. 12 The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.”
They begin with a meal, most likely the evening meal (v7). Paul had plans to leave the next morning, so he taught until midnight (v7). After the event with Eutychus, they had a meal and Paul continued to teach until daylight (v11). The overall time was easily 10-12 hours of teaching and interaction with this group of new believers.
I don’t believe the event was planned this way. I doubt there was a church bulletin announcement listing the times as 6:00pm to 6:00am! I doubt that anyone involved, including Paul, thought during the first meal, “OK, let’s get cracking, there is 10 hours of material to cover!”
I also don’t have an impression here that people left early, drifted away, dwindled down to two fanatic listeners. Paul, and the discussion held the group for many hours. It was meaningful, weighty, engaging. (Ok, one boy went into a deep sleep, but it turned out ok even for him.)
Put yourself into Paul’s situation here. Could you teach and lead discussion for 10-12 hours with an interested group? What would you say? What source material would you use to keep their attention? What tactics would you employ to keep the dialogue moving along constructively, to exhort and encourage the group?
Can you even imagine yourself in this situation? Quite different than a 30 minute Bible study lesson, isn’t it? Instead of focusing on a few verses, this would be like a systematic walk-through of the entire Gospel of Mark, or a long review of the history of the judges and kings leading up to Jesus’ coming.
Can you imagine the people you regularly teach being engaged for this long a period? We’ve trained them to expect much less, haven’t we?
What would it take for you to be prepared to teach and lead discussion like this? Almost certainly you would need a great familiarity with the Bible. You’d need to be practiced with leading dialogue in a desired direction. You would need some teaching endurance power that you might not have today.
Why not work on these things and be prepared?
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
This was the devotion I led at our recent church business meeting. -- Glenn
This ministry is always about people, and always about Jesus, and is larger than any one of us.
‘With’ is an important word, a powerful concept. I’d like you to listen for ‘with’ in these Bible passages:
"Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons." (Mark 3:13-15)
So Jesus chose men to be with him and be his disciples. That “being with Jesus” time had a powerful influence on them:
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)
The elders have spent some time in the recent months thinking and praying about developing leaders in our congregation – not just for our own boards and teams, but leaders who can influence the world.
We can do leadership development and training the cheap way or the expensive way. The cheap way is to spend about $60,000 and send a bunch of people off to cool-sounding week-long training classes and have 'em come back with certificates. The expensive way is to man up (and lady up) and pour your life into someone by being with them.
Let’s consider some opportunities:
Enormous challenges for teenagers -- they need men and women who will be with them. They need good families. That's why we invest in youth staff and want to be there for parents.
We need to be with our spouse. We need to be with one another asbelievers -- this is why we stress small groups!
Thousands of people who live in the neighborhood we live in are desperately lonely. These people need someone to be with them.
There are over a billion souls in unreached people groups who have not yet heard about the God who wants to be with them. That's why we're emphasizing cross-cultural missions and sending people from our fellowship.
And when we grow weary, we will remember that we will be with theLord. He is faithful on his part: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
We are told that we will be with Jesus at the end of earth as we know it:
"They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” (Revelation 17:14)
[You can tell the whole arc of the Bible story around the word ‘with’: God created Adam and Eve and was with them. Sin broke that fellowship. God worked out His plan to restore relationship so that through Jesus Christ we can be with Him again.]
Sounds great, doesn't it? Let's be real with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ: it's harder to be with specific, real, imperfect individuals than to talk about it. Much harder. Many times, it is beyond our capacity and our capability. The little committee members in our heads say, “Ok, but let’s go be with somebody besides this guy.”
The open secret is that the power to be with people is our abiding
connection with Jesus: "4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch
cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can
you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for
apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he
is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are
gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and
my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for
you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so
prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I
loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will
abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and
abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy
may be in you, and that your joy may be full." (John 15:4-11)
Sunday, January 29, 2012
I recently heard from a church in Tennessee that held a Sunday School teacher training time -- they opened up the BibleTeachingCoach YouTube channel and watched a batch of my short teaching tips, discussing how they could apply them in their classes. Great idea! Perhaps you'd like to do the same?
Saturday, January 21, 2012
You might find it odd that I'd post a TED video about scientific visualization on a blog for Bible teachers. Many of you know that I earned a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology. I researched DNA replication, which is the focus of this video. I share this because it's beautiful, it should inspire awe, and it's a terrific example of teachers helping people see things they haven't seen before. That's what YOU do as a Bible teacher! Enjoy.