Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Penalty for Possessing a Bible

Veith points out: "In the heyday of Soviet Communism, the penalty for possessing a Bible was 3 years in prison. Think of that the next time you dare to read that dangerous book."

That would be whether you read it, or believed it.

When I was in college I spent some time with a young man who had fled Russia. (This was before Gorbachev and glasnost.) He told me that he figured out there must be a God, and capitalism must work, because there were only two things the Communist Party teachers repeated over and over and over:

"There is no God."
"Capitalism is corrupt."

Everything else they pretty much said one time. So he logically concluded that they were afraid of God and Capitalism, and repeated these mantras out of legitimate fear.

Friday, July 25, 2008

BiblePlaces.Com -- Terrific Resource

You should add this site to your Favorites list:


Amazing photographs from hundreds of Bible locations described in the OT and NT! These can be useful in your teaching, to give people a sense of geography and scale of the places where the biblical story took place.

Accurate Depictions of Golgotha and Jesus' Tomb

You probably have some images in your mind of what Golgotha looked like, and the tomb where they laid Jesus' body. Some of that might be wrong! Check out these short interviews with Leen Ritmeyer:


Tomb of Jesus

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Books on Preaching

I know there are many pastors and other serious students of the Word who read this blog. There is a significant overlap in the process of developing and delivering a sermon (preaching) and creating interactive learning environments for effective teaching. So books on preaching can be terrific material for Bible teachers to study. Peter Mead has an excellent list of recommendations for you.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Teaching Tips -- They Work!

Sharing two responses I've received in the past two days:

Wanda tried my suggestions about using a hymnal for devotion time, and then used a hymn as part of the class:
"Now , Glen, this tip brings me great joy!
About three months ago while
praying, studying,
and preparing for 7-9 year olds Sunday School
I found
such a hymn..... then I sang
it to the class that Sunday.
Know which
one it was......"I Surrender All".
Well they were so amazed. Never
- had a teacher sang to the class.
Midweek Praise and worship was much
the same with hymn "prayers"
we all know, " Jesus loves the little children",
Jesus loves Me".

It improved our relationship....
changed their behavior and participation."

Elmer writes about the value of using what he's learning:
"It's a big help Glenn, from now, I start reading in a loud voice and I've seen
already the improvement of my speech.
I do more interaction in my teaching,
manage my time always, and coaching my co-teachers on how to become more
effective in their teaching.
I'm planning now to buy a bible with a large
margin and some of the teaching tools.
I praise God for directing me to your
site and in giving me this ebook.
Thanks also for your coaching

Way to go, Wanda and Elmer! Keep on teaching to change lives. If you're interested in taking your teaching up to a whole new level, go here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Be a Learning Session Designer!

I trust your teaching ministry is going well, and the Lord is showing himself strong through you -- may many lives be changed because you are cooperating with the Lord!

Here's a challenge for your next class:

Instead of thinking of yourself as a teacher, think of yourself as a learning session designer. The objective of any Bible study, lesson, or devotional time is to help people grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.To that end, then, what can you do to design the opportunity to maximize the potential to learn?

* How do you set up the room?

* What questions generate more learning?

* How can you use illustrations to give people something tangible or memorable, and increase retention?

* What kind of handout materials will improve interaction and sustain attention?

* How can you set up the timing of the parts of the lessonor study so people don't get distracted or bored or overwhelmed?

* How can you inspire them to do pre- or post- work to learn more on their own?

Why do I recommend you think this way? Because often when we think about ourselves as the teacher we get too focused on -- ourselves.

Thinking about how to best todesign a learning session puts our focus where it needs to be -- on the students. Try this approach. I'm sure you'll come up with ever better ideas and strategies.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Power of Encouragement

The Lord frequently reminds me of the power of encouragement! I received this delightful letter from one of God's great teaches in Phoenix. Check it out, pray for him, and then ask yourself -- whom can you encourage today?

Hello Glenn, I have taught 'teen and/or adult Bible study my entire adult life (I will turn 73 in a few months). Started at 17. God has blessed this calling.
I'm writing this email to thank you for the email I just received with the title line,"I'm just writing to encourage you"
You see, I just walked in the door of my home, from a visit with my doctor. He told me that I have prostrate cancer and wants to do some scans and further testing to know the full extent and possible treatment. I walked in, turned on my computer, opened up my email, ,at the top of the list of un-opened messages was your "Encouragement" letter.
I'm an ol' retired construction worker and am pretty spunky. At one point in my life I had gone over 33 years without missing a days work, for which I give all the glory to He who died for my sins. But I have to tell you, I was more than a little bit "down."
I'm not wanting sympothy, I don't feel a single pain, and look forward to life as usual, totally dependent on HIM. But the word ENCOURAGE simply popped off ofmy screen. And I intend to do just what you recommended. In your words, "Persevere if things are going great. Persevere if things are not "going" at all."
My class of 15 or so adults is presently enjoyingin a study based on James W Garlow's book,"The Covenant." Pray for me as I lead this little group and that lives will be changed as a result of the truths we discover.
In Christ, Wayne Kronz in sunny, hot (113 today), Phoenix, Arizona. P.S. Oh yes. Pray for my situation, also.


Value In the Process of Preparing

Almost weekly I'm asked "Do you have a lesson on ____ that I can use?" Sermon collections abound, and we're awash in pre-made lessons and video teaching series. There is "lesson maker" and "sermon creator" software available. All of this promises the microwave, instant end-product, practically-no-work-on-your-part result.

Don't shortchange yourself or your students. You're better than this. The Lord wants more, much more, for you and for those whom you teach.

The process of wrestling with the Word and praying for your students is good time with the Lord, very good time. "Shortcutting this" denies you the learning and growth opportunity! Crafting a lesson and working it over and over changes you, dear teacher, and helps incorporate the lesson into your life.

And, except for lessons which require special knowledge that you may not have (e.g., a video presentation on the geography and architecture of the Temple of Diana), I am firmly convinced that God will deliver precisely what His children need at this time through the lesson that you and He create together. This is spiritual work.

Yes, it is more work. Yes, it will take more time. The process is beneficial, and the result authentic. Teach to change lives!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Info Overload -- and Little Absorption

From a useful, short article about the problem of information overload (italics mine):

"Even those of us who cheer new technologies for the choices and access they bring realize we're early in the process of humans using these technologies wisely. Data show that technology is a huge productivity enhancer – and a huge source of inefficiency. Research company Basex estimates that more than one-quarter of the day of the typical information worker is taken up by interruptions such as email, instant messaging, Twitter, RSS feeds and other untamed information flows. Less time is spent each day on activities such as writing emails, going to meetings or searching for information. The researchers concluded that only about one-tenth of the day is spent thinking and reflecting."

Now you might be thinking, "Uhm, why are writing about this on a blog for Bible teachers?"

Many of the people that you're teaching are treading water in a sea of information, and spending little if any time reflecting on the meaning of the information they have. So I strongly recommend you work to help people THINK and REFLECT and TAKE ACTON on what they are learning.

May I be blunt? Many of the same people who complain about info overload and being too busy are actually addicted to this state. They love it! How do I know? Given a spare minute, they go get more or start doing something else! (Their motivation may be guilt or pride or fear, or just for the rush of it.) Rather than focusing on one task, they go after the slightest opportunity to be interrupted. ("Ooh! Someone texted me, let me see who that is.")

So in your teaching preparation, dear teacher, understand what you're up against. Teach less material in a very engaging way. Teach for deep understanding of a single verse. Give a powerful, useful framework for topics so they can fit in what they learn more accurately, and retain it. Teach for application -- what will they do today with what they learned from the Word?

And to those who beg you to go faster, cover more, drown them with more information...be patient and mature -- but teach to their needs, not their wants.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer taught at an underground seminary at Finkenwald for a time. His rule for the pastors-in-training was to focus on one verse per week. 52 verses mastered and absorbed well would be worth much, much more in their spiritual development than thousands of verses considered poorly.

I'll be interested to see your comments on this important issue.

Software for Planning a Sunday School class

You might be interested in this free "Easy Sunday School Planner" software from RCL software. The company also provides a whole range of software for churches and pastors to use.

I have not tried this software myself yet, but wanted to give you a head-start in checking it out.

HT: Paul

Friday, July 04, 2008

Antennae Up!

What is God teaching you these days? Today?

I encourage you to be aware of what you're learning, and be aware that you, as a disciple of Jesus, are in learning mode. You know how difficult it is to teach someone who isn't open to learning, right? Don't be guilty of this yourself!

Get your antennae up and out, so you're ready to take in lessons from the Word and what you observe in your experiences every day. Waggle those rabbit ear antennas if necessary so the signal comes in stronger. Focus your attention on Jesus. Pray, "Lord, teach me. I'm yours." Renew your confidence that the Lord himself is your Teacher, Friend, and Guide.

Remember that YOU are a tool that God will use to teach, encourage, and instruct others. He's going to prepare you before He uses you. What a ride!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

We Could Use a Few More Studds

Mark Batterson points us to a daring twentieth-century missionary, C.T. Studd, who said

"Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell."

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Meditating on the Word

Christian meditation is the practice of focusing our thoughts on the revealed Word of God -- not trying to empty our minds, which is the Eastern meditation strategy.

I recommend this article on meditation by Henry Blackaby. He has a wonderful definition:

"Meditation is that moment when God confronts you with the truth about Himself. It is that moment when you go into the presence of God and let God discuss it with you until you know exactly how to respond to Him, however long it takes."

If you're dedicating yourself to teach the Bible to change lives, then you want to help bring your students to the brink that experience with God, right to the edge. And you need to have gone there yourself in order to teach this way.

Aren't we privileged men and women? We have an Awesome Lord and God, who personally instructs us!

HT: Sunday School Revolutionary