Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Recording Your Lessons

I actually record most of the lessons I teach. In many cases I will make the recording available to people who missed it or would like to listen again. And it's amazing how much you can learn about improving your teaching if you listen to yourself. [Frankly, it's humbling! For a guy who is coaching so many other people to teach, I have lots of room for improvement!]

If you'd like to do this, invest in an inexpensive digital recorder, like this one. I use the external mike, and slip it into my pocket.

I get questions like this one periodically:

"Hi Glenn, I'm listening to your [audio lesson on getting ready in the next 30 days] and had a thought. Are you teaching aBible study now? If so, would you be able to record the lesson? Don't do anything unusual or for the 'show' just record a regular class. This would be an excellent model for others. We could see you put into actionwhat you teach."

Now if you record your lessons, you need to be cautious about how you use them. Be sensitive to the fact that people in the classes make comments -- and don't publish the recording without their permission. If you get permission in advance, then understand that it might inhibit the free flow of Q&A, because people become self-conscious.

You see, recording something like a sermon doesn't usually concern as many people -- it's more like a speech with just one person talking. Interactive lessons are different.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

How to Be Ready in 30 Days

I wanted to let you know about upcoming free training audios and videos in August -- and a free audio lesson for today.

Many of you will be teaching again starting with the school year(which is about a month away here in the US). So you have about 30 days to get ready.

The first thing: think through your opportunity, and plan how you will invest your preparation time.

To help you with that I have a free audio lesson for you -- butthere's some exciting news I want to share first.

We're launching a special instructional series called "Three Tuesdays in August."

This what's coming:
August 7: your keys to a fabulous short devotion
August 14: a video overview of the 4 Elements of Great Bible Teaching
August 21: how to think biblically, about any topic

To start all this off TODAY, here's a free 22 minute audio recording of a conversation with my friend and co-teacher Barry Brown, outlining how to get ready in the next 30 days.

(If you're thinking, "yeah, I know this," I still encourageyou to check it out. Do you know about your reticular activating system and how to make it work for you?)


PLUS there is a special opportunity on that page to get another audio lesson, "Converting Sermons to Interactive Bible Studies,"at no charge. This is a recording of an exclusive teleseminar we held earlier this summer.

So look forward to the first three Tuesdays in August, but listen to this today so you can be prepared for a great start toyour next teaching opportunities:


Teach to change lives,

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


People ask me regularly for my recommendations on Bible commentaries. There are so many to choose from now, so discernment is required. Mike Turner, for example, likes John Stott. (You can certainly do much worse!)

I recommend the Expositors Bible Commentary series edited by Frank E. Gaebelein. See my special report on how to select and use a commentary.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Do You Experience This Problem with Communication?

"The problem with communication is the illusion that it has already occurred." -- George Bernard Shaw.

Just because people smiled aftewards and said, "Good job!" or "thank you" doesn't mean that learning happened.

It's important to solicit feedback as you teach, so that you can appraise whether people are learning and understanding. (If they aren't, their lives aren't going to be changed.)

Here's a tip: Be prepared to say important things in more than one way. This strategy ensures that a great percentage of your audience hears it in a way that they respond to.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Prayer of Adoration

"The greatest thing about us is You, Lord."

Friday, July 20, 2007

Channel of Blessing

I've written before about visualizing yourself as a large, clean conduit of God's love and truth to the people in your class or group.

It's very important that you understand your place in this process. YOU are the tool God is using to help people understand and obey His Word.

Ask the Lord to make you a channel of blessing.

If you take this before the Lord consistently in prayer, you will be amazed at how well your students learn, and how much patient endurance you have in yourself. You are not serving in your own strength.

Make time to do this today!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Problem with "Relevance"

Here's an excellent (not short) article, "Preaching Without Reaching." The author outlines problems with much preaching and Bible teaching today -- it starts with human problems, tosses in a little Scripture here and there, and doesn't put the Word of God at the center.

Overall I agree. If you look at sermons recorded and preserved for us, up through about 1960 or so they were nearly all Scripture-centric. They were topic or expostional, but generally it started with Scripture and kept the Word at the center. In the 1960's and 1970's you see a lot of sermons more in the "I'm Ok, You're Ok" mold.

The challenge (and opportunity!) of relevance is not to dilute Scripture or put it in the background. The issue is in the "hook" -- the opening part of a sermon or Bible lesson that engages people so you have their attention. You do not need to be man-centered to do this!

See my free report on creating good hooks if you'd like to learn more.

Surely, This Isn't You!

You really want to work at simplifying your teaching points. Teach less content better, and your listeners will actually learn more!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The "New" Athiesm

I'm not really that old, but have already lived through a couple of cycles of popularity (notoriety?) for athiests. In the last year books and seminars by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel C. Dennett, and Victor J. Stenger have attracted the attentions of millions.

If you'd like some guidance in sorting this out, I recommend Peter Berkowtiz's fine column. Since it's written from a "secular" perspective, you'll get some insights into the logic problems these authors are falling into, big time.

P.S. Looking at these author's name you see an ironic pattern:

Richard -- strong heart [of God]
Christopher -- Christ-bearer
Sam[uel] -- heard of God
Daniel -- God is my judge
Victor -- latin for conqueror
Improving Retention

Unless you're goal is to tickle their ears, you should care deeply about helping people learn and improving their retention of that knowledge (which includes applying it in obedience to God to change lives!).

Darryl Wilson gives some tips here.

The key is always to increase the interactivity with the content, and engage more of the brain in the process. That's why I'm an advocate of dialogue and conversation, using questions effectively, and helping people learn more between group meetings (see my book).

Saturday, July 14, 2007

"What's the Opportunity?"

It's pretty easy for our focus as teachers to be on us -- how we organize the information, how we present, how we are coming across, how we look.

Some of this is necessary, but you and I both know it's a subtle trap.

Here's one way you can stay out of the mire and muck. Ask yourself this question: "What's the opportunity?"

What is the opportunity for these students to ...
see how God has operated in the past (see Romans 15:4)?
understand how the Bible is organized, or the timeline/geography of events?
hear God speaking commands, assurances, rebukes -- to them?
go deeper on familiar passages?
fall in love with Christ [all over again]?
learn how to study the Word themselves?
see something which they can share with their family, coworkers, neighbors and friends?

See how this question lifts our vision to them? And the answers will help shape what YOU need to work at -- organizing content, how it is presented, the questions to ask to promote dialogue, hooks and stories and illustrations, what applications to push for, etc.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thinking in Whole Words

Check out this setence:

"Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by itslef but the wrod as a wlohe."

Pretty amazing, isn't it? These kinds of efforts help us understand how the brain works as a sophisticated pattern-matching system, coupled to a powerful linking system so that one idea leaps to another (and usually many others).

Now why I am writing about this to Bible teachers?

Because you want to encourage learning, and that means encouraging pattern recognition, and encouraging people to jump to related thoughts. Don't work too hard to control the flow of thoughts in a discussion, because you're working against the way the mind operates.

Ask questions, tell stories, and don't surprised (or frustrated) when it leads someplace you didn't expect. What counts is learning. That's teaching to change lives!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Memorization Strategy

Memorization is hard work, but good work. Here's an interesting strategy, called the "stacking method," which is helpful for memorizing passages.

1. Write out what you want to memorize. Writing it helps to begin to form it in your mind.
2. Take your notes into a quiet room, shut the door, and eliminate all distractions.
3. Look at the first sentence in your notes and read it out loud. Then, close your eyes and say the sentence without looking at it.
4. Repeat the step above, this time with the first 2 sentences.
5. Next, try it with 3 sentences. Then 4. Repeat until you have memorized every sentence in your notes.

I used something like this to memorize Matthew 5-7. Try it out yourself, and with your students.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Teachers Need Different Kinds of Friends

Friends who bring out the best in you -- developing your strengths, helping you guard against slipping back.

Friends who mentor us, because they're farther along the discipleship curve than we are. (These friends may be authors of books, too.)

Friends who ask us hard questions, challenge our comfortable assumptions, and don't let us settle for status quo. (Quick story -- a good friend recently asked about the key visions and strategies for our church. I told him that we wanted to focus on making disciples. He quickly broke through my 'comfort' by pointing out a key idea: "Glenn, you're making disciples. It's just a question of what kind of disciples you're making." Zing!)

Friends who are with us in the deep things of the Spirit.

Now sometimes you will find all these types of friends in one person, but it's more likely that you need to cultivate multiple friendships, at different levels of intimacy, for this. We are meant to live in community, after all, though it is hard because of sin.

( based these thoughts on an article by Ike Reighard. He's writing about pastors, but I believe the same is true for all Bible teachers. )

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Obey God -- and Don't Burn Out

Lynne Baab gives us some terrific ideas for what to do differently on a Sabbath rest day -- to recognize that God is the creator (Ex 20:11) and He is our Redeemer (Deut 5:15).

I've noticed that some teachers are burning out. Follow God's prescription (meaning, obey God's command!), get the Sabbath rest you need. Read the whole article for some creative ideas.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Good Feedback on Hebrew and Greek Videos

I'm grateful to hear that people are learning a lot through the Hebrew and Greek word study videos I published last week. Pastor Thomas Carter writes:

"It's a huge Blessings is the best way I can put it. Thank You immensely."

I encourage you to check them out now and learn this critical skill by watching over my shoulder, in less than an hour.
Thinking Big, Daring Dreams

Darryl Wilson encourages us to set big growth goals for Sunday School.

I challenge you to set two kinds of growth goals for your teaching environment:

1. Reach more people. How many more will you ask God to send to join your Bible study, Sunday School class, or small group?

2. Develop maturity. What's the next step look like for individuals and for the whole group to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ?

Remember, you and I are serving a Lord who can do "more than we ask or imagine" (Eph 3:20).