Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thinking about Joseph's Righteousness

John Ortberg has a wonderful essay about Joseph's righteousness, and his decision to sacrifice his reputation to take Mary to be his wife. Recommended. We don't have a single recorded word of Joseph in the Bible, but he is a rich example for us to study.

This article would make an excellent basis for an adult lesson, particularly for a men's group.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Why Ask Questions?

The key to learning is engagement. If the people in your classes and Bible studies are engaged, they will learn. If they're not engaged, it's much less likely that they will learn, and the opportunity for life-change is extremely short.

Asking people questions to stimulate real dialogue is one of the most powerful ways to engage them. Jesus did this frequently. Did he ask questions because he didn't know the answer? No. He asked questions to engage people.

The key to asking great questions is to plan them ahead of time. Your objective is to ask questions so that people move in the direction God wants them to go!

(If you'd like a great resource for helping you ask better questions, check out this ebook, 52 Model Questions.)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Using PowerPoint in Sunday School

Here's a useful article outlining an approach to using PowerPoint in Sunday School classes -- with some cautions.

Make sure the technology supports your key points and promotes discussion. If it doesn't, don't use it "just because." Teaching to change lives is what counts. Everything else, including the presentation medium, is secondary to that objective.

If you're getting more advanced with PowerPoint, and need some tips about master slides, organizing graphics, etc., then check out this article.
Solid. Reliable. No Lies.

John Piper has a nice sermon on the inspiration of the Bible. This will recharge your passion. Recommended.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Must You Have the Spiritual Gift of Teaching?

In my latest audio answer I address a question about the the spiritual gift of teaching -- is it a requirement?

Monday, November 20, 2006

National Bible Week

This is National Bible Week! (It runs annually, Sunday to Sunday of Thanksgiving week in the US.)
Here's a great start: read Psalm 119. (This link is in the Message Translation)
What can you do to help your students take their excitement about reading God's Word up to the next level?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

This One Hits Home

But least there's an opportunity with each new day to practice dying to sin!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What's Your Plan to Teach the Christmas Story?

I'm curious about your plans for teaching the Christmas Story this year. How are you going to present the information about the birth of our Savior?

The most interesting approach I've heard recently is to ask the class what's in the story, write it all down on the board, then go back through the actual texts in the Gospel accounts, and identify those things which have been "added" -- but many people think are real. (For example: How many Magi were there? There were gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh (Matt 2:11) but the text doesn't tell us there were three Magi (Matt 2:1) )

Add your ideas as a comment.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Prayer Guide

John Piper compiles a list of what to pray for -- using your wartime walkie-talkie. Great resource, highly recommended!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Great Bible Teacher Collection Available

The Great Bible Teacher Collection is now available. Until November 14th, you can get a complimentary pair of CDs will all the information -- one for you, and one to give away as a Christmas present. If you're serious about teaching ministry, you owe it to yourself to check this out.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

How to Use Bible Study Guides Effectively

Check out my latest audio answer where I give you the key principle to using Bible study guides effectively.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

It's Jesus' Message, Not Yours

If you're feeling great burdens in your teaching ministry, and struggles with getting lessons put together, then here's an insight to come back to:

Your teaching ministry isn't really your ministry -- it's Jesus' ministry!

You are participating in His ministry work. A lot of burdens come off when we stop hoping that Jesus might come alongside and make our ministry just a little lighter.

I know this is true. I know this is true. But I need reminding, frequently.

I hope you enjoy this story from Steve Seamands. He felt terrible burdens getting a series of sermons and workshops together, under a tight deadline. Listen to his words:

"After several days of fretting, I got up one morning to pray. At the time, I was engaged in a verse-by-verse devotional study of the Song of Solomon. That particular morning, I was meditating on verse 2:8: "The voice of my beloved! / Look, he comes, / leaping upon the mountains, / bounding over the hills."
Mountains and hills in Scripture often represent obstacles that confront us. That day, my obstacle was the sermon I had to prepare for the conference. As I meditated on this verse, Jesus, my beloved, spoke to me: "Steve, why are you so uptight? This is so easy for me. It may seem like a mountain to you, but it's a molehill to me! I can leap and bound over it effortlessly. I have a sermon I want to preach to the people who will be gathered there. I'm going to preach it through you. In fact, it's going to be fun! Come on, let's run together."

You see, dear teachers, the lesson and class time are easy for our Master. It's going to be fun to run together with Jesus!
Four Prayer Requests for Teachers

Though writing about preaching, I think these four key prayer requests from Joe McKeever are ideal for Bible teachers who want to see changed lives:

1) I never want to stand up to preach again without a good grasp of the Scripture. I'm tired of not being clear about the text in front of me.

2) I want the message from God to have a firm grasp on me, to grip my heart. I want to preach with genuine passion.

3) I want a good rapport with the congregation. I'm tired of that " glazed-over " look on the people's faces. I want to make contact with them, to communicate effectively.

4) I want to see lives changed. If the point of preaching is for the Word of God to make a difference in people, then it must be in order to ask the Father to give me success in doing it.

May each of us strive for a solid grasp on Scripture, an irrepressible grip of God on our hearts, growing skill as communicators, and for God to unleash his power in changing the lives of men, women, boys, and girls. Amen!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

How to Be Spiritually-Minded

John Piper gives us excellent counsel about turning our minds toward God.
Open Question

I'm curious, folks -- Do you use a Bible study program that runs on your PC (or Mac), and what software are you using?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Create a Learning Environment

Here's a YAC (Yet Another Column) decrying teaching methods in Sunday School classes, and advocating more electronics, less lecture.

I partially agree.

I agree that dumping kids into rows of chairs and Blah-Blah-Blah lecture isn't going to help them learning. But it's not because the lecture method can't be effective, per se. You can bore them to tears with PowerPoint, too. (All of what I'm saying is true for adults as well.)

Learning -- which I think of as the transfer of information that changes the way we think and behave -- requires that you have an engaged brain. If your brain isn't engaged in the material, you aren't learning from the presentation of the information.

Now you can influence learning (brain engagement) by how you set up a room, how you present information, how much individual interaction happens, etc. -- and you should make every effort to do these things better and better. But it's not enough.

So what's required?

First, prayer. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing. This is spiritual work, and all spiritual work must begin and be sustained and completed in prayer. Pray for open minds, open eyes, open hearts. Without this spiritual openness, the best you can do is entertain or annoy people.

Second, passion. "A student will be like his teacher." Love Jesus, love His Word, and this passion will engage people.

Third, relevance. You cannot engage a person's mind unless he/she perceives this information is relevant to their lives somehow.

Eestablish these three things, and even weak teaching methods and presentation can still lead to life-changing learning.

If you are interested in learning more, including the practical how-to aspects of teaching the Bible, check out .