Tuesday, November 29, 2005


A friend who studied under Howard Hendricks passed along this quote from him: "Do not ask for volunteers. Satan will raise his hand every time."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Free Reports

I've posted a number of free reports you can check out:

How to Overcome Fear
Bible Study Tools Checklist
The 7 1/2 Problems Bible Teachers Face
How to Set up Free Google News Alerts
Recommendations of Bible Commentaries
The Best Fiction for Bible Teachers

and several collections of my answers to questions from Bible teachers.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Josh Hunt blog

I've been recommending Josh Hunt material on doubling groups for several years now. He has terrific ideas, and they work. They will work for you. I'm glad to see Josh has started a blog now -- check it out at http://joshhunt.blogs.com/blog/

"Let's see how we can get 20 million people studying the Word each week."

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Well…it’s certainly shorter

Open question: What do you think about “The 100 Minute Bible” (an edited-down version of the Bible, only 2.5% original length)?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Check this at the door...

Someone has suggested that ego, if it was an acronym, would stand for "Edges God Out."

I like that functional definition.

Great Bible Teachers know that this ministry is not about you. God got along just fine before you were created, He gets along fine in spite of you, and He'll do just dandy when you're history. He is I AM, and you and I are i am not.

So check your ego at the door on the way into your teaching opportunities...and don't pick it up again when you leave.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Strong Ending

You want to preserve the impact of a lesson. I've seen some great lessons get smothered because at the end of the lesson came the class announcements, the lead-in for next week, and miscellaneous stuff. The burning impact fizzles out -- all the oxygen just got sucked out of the room and people are distracted.

Put announcements up front; they'll be less distracting to the lesson.

It's good to give a "preview" of the next lesson to build anticipation. But sometimes you have to say too much, and it will detract from the zing of the current lesson.

So here's one strategy you might try: "Watch for my email by that tells you what to expect next time, and what you should do in advance."

Simple, easy. Build anticipation for the message, but don't give the message itself.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Using Email Between Classes

One of the most powerful things you can do is to use email between class times to connect with your students. Done well, this really helps you move from "event" teaching to teaching as a ministry. (Note: If email is not a technology option, think about short phone calls or postcards.)

What do you put in the messages? Here are some ideas:

* Encouragement
* Additional information you could not cover in classtime that is related to a lesson
* Links to reference materials that cover a topic in more detail, for those who want to go deeper
* Testimony about how God is working in your life or the life of someone in the class
* "Forecasts" about what is coming -- builds anticipation, which will improve learning
* Preparatory information for a future class

Another benefit of this approach is that people will reply to your emails, and you'll pick up additional feedback, questions, and ideas that will sharpen your teaching in the future.

I cover this strategy is some detail in my book, Teach the Bible to Change Lives.

How are you using email to improve your teaching ministry?

Friday, November 18, 2005

News from Barna Surveys

Christianity Today reports on Barna surveys regularly. While I have respect for the Barna polling organization, surveys are not the best way to discern where God is working. Still, there is much to learn.

Two facts caught my attention in this latest survey report:

1. The number of American churches offering Sunday School classes continues to decline.
Children under 5 -- down to 88%
Adolescents -- down to 80%
Adults -- down to 91%

While those are still "high" percentages, the data shows that there are about 20,000 fewer churches offering Sunday School classes now than in 1997.

I'm sure there are many reasons behind these declines, but I continue to believe that well-organized, well-taught Sunday School classes can be a fabulous tool to build up the believers and equip them for ministry. For many, many people, that is the only systematic training opportunity they have!

So my passion to be used by God to help build up this and the next generation of Great Bible Teachers is stoked, ladies and gentlemen!

2. The "what are pastors reading?" lists are focused on Rick Warren books and contemporary church dynamics. These aren't bad in themselves. But I'd like to see a book about building up praying churches be on the list!
Cultivating the Soul

A big piece of my philosophy about Great Bible Teaching is that YOU are the tool God will use. There are teaching practices and mechanics and tips that can help sharpen your teaching. But the metal is a work of the Lord in you, and through you.

Many of us need to invest more into practices that put us before the Lord, submitting to Him, being in relationship with Him. Gordon MacDonald has some useful advice about this in "Cultivating the Soul."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

For Fathers and Husbands

I encourage fathers and husbands to check out my other blog, Be Bold, Be Gentle. Sharpen your serve, gentlemen.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


I find two things are true about keeping a spiritual journal:

1. Almost everyone thinks this is an excellent idea.
2. Almost no one has done it consistently.

I, too, have gone in fits and starts at journaling. Gordon MacDonald's recent article in Leadership magazine gives me some reasons to get back into the rhythm of this discipline.

What about you?
Teaching Children? Check this out!

I readily admit that I focus on teaching adults and youth, not younger children. I was very intrigued by this short article, "Contemplative Kids." It outlines a different approach than the standard approach of !energy !intensity !movement.
Insightful Quote from a Master Teacher

"All true learning takes place only after you're thoroughly confused." -- Howard Hendricks

Friday, November 11, 2005

What Version or Translation?

There are many debates about which Bible translation is best. We're wonderfully privileged to have so many choices in English!

For Bible teachers, I recommend you use the version that your students are using. This gives you the best opportunities to teach in congruence with what they're reading. This is not about you -- it's about what's best for your group.

In my home church, where I do most of my teaching, that's the New International Version. I also use other translations occasionally when I believe the translation
a) helps people get past the "oh I've heard this a jillion times" dullness, or
b) helps me communicate additional meaning or depth of a word or passage

In other churches, teaching from the NASB or NKJV might be more appropriate. Work from the translation that will help your students the most.

Keep your focus and energy on the teaching process, and refuse to get sucked into debates about the "best" translation. If you want to put energy into translation work, support Wycliffe!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

What About the Change?

Great Bible Teachers teach to change lives. That's the goal. We're not teaching to deliver information alone, but information that God will use to change the lives of our students.

That's why I love the lyrics to "The Change," by Steven Curtis Chapman. Great song for us!

2 Cor. 5:17, 3:18
Well I got myself a T-shirt that says what I believe
I got letters on my bracelet to serve as my ID
I got the necklace and the key chain
And almost everything a good Christian needs,
yeah I got the little Bible magnets on my refrigerator door
And a welcome mat to bless you before you walk across my floor
I got a Jesus bumper sticker
And the outline of a fish stuck on my car
And even though this stuff's all well and good,
yeah I cannot help but ask myself ...

What about the change
What about the difference
What about the grace
What about forgiveness
What about a life that's showing I'm undergoing the change,
yeah I'm undergoing the change

Well I've got this way of thinking that comes so naturally
Where I believe the whole world is revolving around me
And I got this way of living that Ihave to die to every single day
'Cause if God's Spirit lives inside of me,
yeah I'm gonna live life differently

I'm gonna have the change
I'm gonna have the difference
I'm gonna have the grace
I'm gonna have forgiveness
I'm gonna live a life that's showing
I'm undergoing the change

What about the change
What about the difference
What about the grace
What about forgiveness
I want to live a life that's showing
I'm undergoing the change
Blue Letter Bible

This is awesome. The Blue Letter Bible tools work very well.

I'm not a huge fan of computer Bible software, except as a reference tool. For devotion and intense study, it just works better for me to be sitting with my wide-margin Bible in my lap.

There is so much in this tool collection that I'll have to do more posts on it. For starters, just browse around.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Man Connected to the Source

Billy Graham is a wonderful contemporary example of a man committed to prayer, to intentionally humbling himself to be a conduit of God's power and grace. Read this nice piece on his example, "Continuous Voltage" and commit yourself to this way. Prayer and the Word are the path to great teaching ministry!
Should You Be Concerned about New Study Notes?

There is an updated version of the popular NIV Study Bible available now.

In the description, it says, "The world's best-selling study Bible now raises the standard even higher! That's because its celebrated study notes have been thoroughly revised. Turn to any page and discover the difference: over 20,000 of the Zondervan NIV Study Bible's Gold Medallion Award-winning study notes -- now meticulously updated and expanded to reflect the most current conservative Bible scholarship. Unmatched in any other study Bible, these notes place at your fingertips a treasury of instant commentary from today's top evangelical scholars."

Umm… I find this more disturbing than exciting. Should someone stop believing what was in the original edition study notes? Weren't they created the "top evangelical scholars" at the time?

This is why the only study bible I recommend for Great Bible Teachers is The Thompson Chain Reference Bible. There is a decades-tested system of cross-referencing and topical referencing -- Scripture is used to help you understand Scripture.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Know the Scriptures, and Know the Power of God

I know this is a familiar passage from Matthew 22, but read it again. Read it slowly, or out loud.

23That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24"Teacher," they said, "Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and have children for him. 25Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27Finally, the woman died. 28Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?"
29Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living."

These scholarly Sadducees get quite the comeback. Jesus -- and keep in view that Jesus is always acting in love -- tells them first that there fancy degrees aren't helping them. "You are in error."

Here's the key point I want every Bible teacher to take to heart: Error comes because we do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. If you want to avoid error, then humbly work at knowing the Scriptures (a life-long obligation) and experiencing the power of God (an eternity-long opportunity).

Let us encourage one another to be students of the Word, and mindful of God's power.
What BIBLE stands for

Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Teach Meat!

"This is the age of the sermonette, and sermonettes make Christianettes."
-- Michael Green

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Becoming a Praying Teacher, not a Teacher who Prays

I highly recommend this 2 page article, "Becoming a Praying Pastor." You can apply everything Steve Loopstra writes about to great Bible teaching. Get this , print it off, reread it occasionally.

Teaching to change lives demands that we become praying teachers.