Monday, May 31, 2010

The Online Topical Search Tool I Use

When I need to explore a topic I use my Thompson's Chain Reference Bible or the topical search engine at One of the nice things about the online topical search tool is that you can quickly find information and copy/paste that into a Word document as you go.

Try it out: search for topics like Forgiveness, Fear, Grief, Holiness -- you'll see that this takes you to a lot more than just a few Bible verses.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

How to Have Energy to Teach Well

Great Bible teaching will leave you excited and tired at the same time. Reality: it takes significant energy to teach well.

I believe far too many teachers are ignoring this truth and should be more intentional to make sure they have energy available when it's time to teach.

Some suggestions:

1. Get a good night's sleep. No amount of stimulants substitute for real sleep. God "grants sleep to those He loves." (Psalm 127:2 ) Use God's gift!

2. Eat right. Don't load up on something sugary right beforehand. You'll feel fine for a few minutes, but then you'll really struggle when your blood sugar drops half way through your lesson. Get some protein and complex carbohydrates in. Make sure you're well hydrated on water.

3. Worship before you teach. This is essential! You're a minister of the Word, but worship comes first. On Sunday morning I recommend you go to worship service before you teach, if you can. Pray and sing and praise and give thanks, in whatever time you have. Make sure you have cleaned up all your short accounts before the Lord, asking forgiveness for any sins.

4. Get some oxygen! Take a few deep breaths before you begin teaching. Oxygenate your blood!

5. Make a big smile. This does wonders for you physically and emotionally.

These suggestions should all increase your energy level and help you teach better.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Generosity Matrix

I receive an email request like this one, about once a month: "Glenn, please send me a Bible study that will make people tithe and give to the church generously."

A couple problems here:
1. No lesson is going to make people do anything.
2. Generosity from the heart cannot be compelled.
3. I don't give out Bible studies, but coach teachers on how to create and deliver great Bible teaching.
A simple Google search will lead you to many example studies (on whatever topic you care to teach), but you'll need to adapt it to your class or group.

On the topic of giving, I highly recommend a new blog post by J.D. Greear, "The Generosity Matrix" He does a terrific job outlining all the key elements of Scriptural guidance on giving and related issues -- so this is a terrific place to start for lesson-building.

Also, the author makes a very important point that we need to stress in our teaching: "I find that a lot of biblical wisdom works this way... we like rules, formulas, and black and white prescriptions. Instead, the Bible gives complementary principles we are to hold in tension."

If you only taught from one verse on giving, you wouldn't be giving people the complete biblical picture -- we must teach from the whole counsel of God. If you'd like to learn more about preparing to teach this way, I recommend my course on biblical frameworks.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Creator or Curator?

Do you craft lessons "from scratch," just from your personal study of the Word and praying for your students? That's the "Creator" approach. Or do you work from existing lessons, perhaps adjusting and tweaking and tailoring for your students needs at this time? That's the "Curator" approach.

I think Great Bible Teachers should be able to use both approaches.

Here's how the guys at Head Heart Hand describe these two approaches for crafting sermons:

Creators are preachers who pour over the Scriptures, and think deeply upon them, prayerfully meditating and reflecting upon God’s Word. When they begin sermon preparation, they begin with their Bibles, not commentaries. And they don’t open another book (or Logos!) until they feel they have really exhausted their own minds and hearts.
Curators, in contrast, are preachers who do very little of their own thinking and meditating on the Scriptures. They mainly read commentaries and theologies, and listen to others' sermons. They then cut and paste it all together. Their sermons are usually sound and well organized, but often somewhat stale and predictable.

Across the Bible teachers I know and know of, far too many teachers shy away from the "Creator" approach, and far too many do the "Curator" approach poorly.

If you'd like to do both well, check out Teach the Bible to Change Lives. Your students need you to be the best teacher you can be. Don't sell yourself short, either! You'll learn more and have more fun in the process when you use both Creator and Curator approaches.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How Not to End Your Class

Have you ever been in this situation?

Time is winding down, you have maybe 1 minute left, people in the class are shuffling and you're losing their attention -- they're thinking about where they need to go next. You finish off your thought from that part of your outline, ask "Any questions?" and give it 1 second. (You actually aren't expecting any questions, and secretly know that peer pressure of a group makes that very unlikely!) Then you say, "OK, let's pray" and say a short appropriate prayer that is your official close.

Teachers often miss the opportunity to end classes and Bible study times with a strong "launch."

Here's my counsel: teach less content, teach it really well, and aim to engage people with questions and dialogue. Aim to end class 5 minutes early. And launch them out into ministry with your passionate (not perfunctory) prayers on their behalf, for the glory of God. You've instructed, trained and equipped -- now they need to go forth and serve. (See Ephesians 4:11-12 for more on this.)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Addition vs. Multiplication Ministry

I strongly encourage you to train other Bible teachers. (See my free resources for this at You can work harder and do more yourself, but you're always limited by yourself. That's addition ministry. Multiplication ministry is when you invest in others who will in turn develop others (gee, might be a biblical concept, that!)

While I get intellectual agreement when I speak this way, I don't see many people doing it. I think there are several reasons. One is much more powerful than the others.

There is an addictive appeal of addition ministry: I feel important and needed. I'm still at the center of things even years from now. Many people will know my name. I don't have to trust people to get things right, because I'm still doing ministry to them. I don't need to share as much.

If you find those statements resonating with you, join me in repenting and returning to the biblical mandate of multiplication ministry.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Let the Bible Instruct Us

I appreciated C. Matthew McMahon's article Why I Am A Calvinist because of these two paragraphs:
When I was 21, I had finished 2 years of Bible college. I went to an Arminian School, learned Arminian doctrine, and read Arminian books. I had no previous learning in religion until I attended that school, so I was indoctrinated in that theology without ever knowing whether it was true or false. In my naïveté I believed what I was taught (Surely not to question doctrine was my own mistake, but being indoctrinated in that way helped me to understand more about what I believe now. So it was the providence of God which kept me in my sin of false doctrine for a time.) Not too long after my second year, a friend of mine, who believed the doctrines of grace Calvinist began to challenge me on many of my "biblical" doctrines. I had a well rounded handle on the doctrine I possessed and propagated it thoroughly among my friends at school. But when this young man challenged me as he did, I was not able to refute him. The reason I was not able to refute his arguments had nothing to do with not understanding my own doctrine, for I did. But he came at me with something I did not expect; the Bible. He proposed a whole new system of doctrine which ran completely contrary to my own beliefs. My understanding of sin was so unbiblical that when he told me to read Romans 3:10-18, I was taken back by Paul’s poignant words. I was challenged by the very book I thought I understood. My views of man, Christ, God, salvation, sin, sovereignty, the will, and others were so warped and twisted that my young friend didn’t even need to rebuke me, for the Scriptures were doing it quite well. I had understood doctrine, it was just not the doctrine of the Bible.
So over the next summer, because of that day and that particular challenge of my friend, I devoted my time to reading through the entire Bible and endeavor to take it as it stood rather than what I wanted to read into it. My prayer was that the Lord would teach me His word by the power of the Holy Spirit so that I would know what it said rather than what I wanted it to say. After three months my views on man, Christ, God, sin, salvation and the like were radically transformed. (you would be amazed at what the Spirit of God will do with such a prayer and a simple reading of the Bible.) The point is this, my theology came out Calvinist without ever knowing what Calvinism was. I had not known what Calvin taught or that he was even a person. But my theology reflected nonetheless. The study of the Word of God transformed me. The Scriptures taught me, instead of me trying to teach it. So we see that being a Calvinist is not following after one man, but submitting under the authority of the Bible.

Would that more of us would pray and read Scripture this way! I'm not promoting Calvinism by referring you to this, because I have friends who have read and studied deeply and become convicted Arminians. (We can't all be right on all the elements of our theological frameworks, but we can work towards what builds up one another and makes for mutual edification.)

My challenge to you is to read the Bible as much or more than you read other materials.

Try This Exercise to Know Your Audience Better

Sometimes we Bible teachers are called to teach a group that we've not met, nor spent time with, nor with whom we have any familiarity. So we pray and ask God for direction, and trust that because He loves these people and cares for their edification, God will direct us and use what we teach to help them.

But most of the time we are teaching people we know, at least to some degree. My challenge to you: get to know them MUCH better.

Here's a suggested approach. Take three sheets of paper. Label the sheets: FEARS DESIRES PROBLEMS

For each sheet, try to write out ten items in that category for the people you're teaching. What are ten fears (spoken and unspoken) that grip them? What are ten desires that drive them? What are ten problems they face? Keep in mind that not everyone will have all ten fears, for example -- you're trying to figure out a list of ten fears that will be representative of the group.

Going through this process will significantly improve your sense of their needs. Most teachers who try this report that they had insights from the Lord that shaped their ideas for lesson content and how to present "old" truths in new ways.

Next step: tuck these three sheets away and mark on your calendar to review them in 3 months. You'll have new items for the lists by then. Once you get to know your audience better, the more you'll learn about them going forward.

Keep on teaching to change lives.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Am I Supposed to Feel Guilty All the Time?"

Kevin DeYoung gives some excellent answers to the question, "Are Christians Meant to Feel Guilty All the Time?"

In short, he reasons "NO!" But why do we feel guilty so often?

1. We don't fully embrace the good news of the gospel.
2. Christians tend to motivate each other by guilt rather than by grace.
3. Most of our low-level guilt falls under the ambiguous category of "not enough."
4. When we are truly guilty of sin it is imperative we repent and receive God's mercy.

This problem of persistent guilt is a genuine issue today, and if you haven't encountered it amongst your students yet you will. Teachers, I strongly recommend you review this article and use the material here to help you respond to people's situations. You could even create a good lesson on this topic from what's in Kevin's article.

Create the habit of reading good articles, and imagining yourself using the information in the articles to help your teaching. You'll retain the information longer if you imagine yourself using it. Print things like this off, and file them for future reference.

There's a whole world of great information like this, if you're open to finding and using it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

"How to Pray Badly" -- great idea for a lesson on prayer

Sometimes it's effective to teach someone the truth by helping them think about what's not true, or help them develop effective practices by calling out ineffective practices.

Tim Challies' wonderful article "How to Pray Badly" would be an excellent outline for a lesson on prayer, using this idea. He gives details on:

Selfish Motives
Turning Away From Scripture
Unforgiving Hearts
Family Discord
Unconfessed Sin

There's plenty of Scripture to work from, as well. Check it out, and at least put this article in your files for future lessons.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Puzzled by a Bible Text?

Found a difficult passage? Has someone asked you to explain something that's hard to understand?

Kevin deYoung gives some excellent advice in this short article, "What To Do When the Bible Baffles." An excerpt:

What to do when the Bible baffles?

To begin with, we recall the sovereignty of God. God wrote the Bible and he inspired the hard texts. He breathed out his revelation through Paul. And he willed it so that some things in Paul’s letters would be hard to understand. Hard texts are still God’s texts. They must be hard for a reason.

What to do next? We embrace our finitude. We admit we are not terribly smart, nor all that clever, and so we pray. As the Irish theologian McHammer said, “You’ve got to pray just to make it today.”

And as we pray we work. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Col. 3:23). So we pour over words and sentences. We read commentaries. We talk to other Christians. We interpret Scripture by Scripture. We ask God for breakthroughs. He wants to teach us. Remember, Paul wrote to slaves and the uneducated, those without wisdom, influence, or nobility (1 Cor. 1:26). They could learn and so can we.

Don’t give up on hard texts or hard doctrines. Don’t settle for platitudes or for bewailing “I’m not theologian.” We must not give up on understanding the Bible without a fight. As C.S. Lewis once remarked, “God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than any other slackers.” We are all tempted to shy away from life’s difficulties, be they hard people or hard texts. But consider the wisdom of Proverbs: “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox” (14:4). In other words, oxen make messes, but they also help with the harvest. If you never think through difficult Bible passages, your life may be simpler, but it won’t be stronger.

God gave us brains so we could be obedient with them. And he has spoken to us in the Bible so he might be more easily known, even when some things are hard to understand.


Read the whole article. This is good information to help your students.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

7 Thoughts on Reading the Bible

Bible teachers need to foster disciples who read and learn from the Word daily, without hand-holding. We teach children to feed themselves and expect it as being mature. We should do the same with those whom we're called to teach.

Here's some helpful information from J.C. Ryle that would be good to pass along to your students.


7 Thoughts on Reading the Bible (from J.C. Ryle)

1) Read the Bible with an earnest desire to understand it.
2) Read the Scriptures with a simple, childlike faith and humility.
3) Read the Word with a spirit of obedience and self-application.
4) Read the Holy Scriptures everyday.
5) Read the whole Bible and read it an orderly way.
6) Read the Word of God fairly and honestly.
7) Read the Bible with Christ constantly in view.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More Practice Means More Freedom

A Bible teacher in Brazil sent me this comment by email: "I don't like to practice giving my lesson. This gives me more freedom. I don't want to kill the Spirit."

A few comments for you to consider:

The Holy Spirit will direct us in our preparation as well as our presentation. Many teachers have found that wrestling with the lesson material over a period of days, practicing speaking out loud, trying out questions and thinking about how to lead the discussion, all create space for the Holy Spirit to direct us and shape the lesson. I believe it's too limiting to think that the Holy Spirit only acts in the delivery moment.

The more you practice, the less you need your notes, the fewer stumbles you'll have, and the less likely your teaching presentation will be a distraction to those listening to you. Investing in practice gives you confidence. That confidence is the ground of great freedom.

Do not value your freedom as a teacher above your students' needs. We work hard and pray hard to maximize the learning that our students will have.

The real question is not about my freedom, but about honoring our Lord. You decide: how much practicing or lack of practicing most honors the Lord?

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Leadership Lessons From Miracle for Pastors and Church Leaders

The movie Miracle, about the 1980 US Men’s Hockey Team that beat the Soviets, has a number of terrific lessons for pastors and church leaders. I recommend the film, and have included some YouTube clips below.

Not all-star teams, but a team that plays together

Herb Brooks had intensely studied the Soviet team who won the gold medal in the previous five Olympics. He knew that the general strategy -- assemble a team composed of the best individual amateurs from across the US – would never succeed. Brooks understand that only a team that worked together in a system of play, with the best conditioning, could beat the Soviets.

Consider the men Jesus selected for his disciples. It was nothing like an All-Star team that the religious leaders of the day would have selected! And think about the team God has arranged for you to work with – probably not an “All-Star” team, either. But when you’re taking back ground long-held by Satan, individual talent is insufficient. You need a team working in a system. And leaders often need to work out an "unconventional" strategy!

Coaches push people really hard -- but only when they want to get there

Herb Brooks was infamous for demanding the highest level of conditioning and skill from his players. He pushed and yelled and even jeered or mocked players to bring out their best. Why could he do that, without men volunteering to leave the team? Because the players had volunteered. They wanted to be there. They submitted themselves to intense training because they wanted to win.

The simple truth is that you can’t coach a person to a place he or she doesn’t want to be. But if they want to be there, you can push them and they’ll respond. Great coaches are usually tremendously demanding and unwilling to settle short. Leaders need to understand if they have someone’s engagement, and if they do, be unafraid to push them for better performance.

There are ways in which leaders cannot be your friend, and still get the job done

In the movie, right after the initial team has been selected, Herb Brooks tells them that they’ll be working harder than they’ve ever worked. He then tells them that if they need a friend, they should talk with the Assistant Coach.

The leadership lesson here is simple: You can’t be a person’s good buddy and then coach them beyond their comfort zone. I think you can be friends, but it’s a distant kind of friendship that is secondary to the role of leader and coach. The temptation to be someone’s friend often short-circuits a leader’s ability to develop an individual or a team. It’s significant to me that Jesus did not call his disciples friends until the very end of his time with them (John 15:15). If Jesus has done this sooner, He would not have been able to say to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!” or rebuked the disciples as He did.

The second leadership lesson here is that you aren’t going to be able to be bosom-buddies with everyone equally on a team. Becoming too close a friend with some subordinates can create serious issues if you want a team to work together for a bold common purpose.

“The name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back”
It takes a while for the team members to stop thinking of themselves in the old way – by the school they played for. Herb Brooks puts them through serious pain before they realize that playing as a team for the United States is their new identity.

If you’re working in a leadership team, the name on the front of your jersey (“Jesus”) is more important than your church history, your pedigree, your experiences and credentials. It’s more important than the specific ministry area you serve in.

Taking back territory long-held by an enemy requires sacrifice
Between periods one player has a bruised leg. (These guys are really tough, so I’m sure it must have been quite painful if he opted out.) Herb Brooks yells at the guy and gets him worked up enough to get back in the game.

Leaders push not only in training, but in the big game. Satan has long-held territory which he will not yield easily. Sacrifices must be made. Men and women who don’t push beyond their comfort zones aren’t going to intimidate a well-entrenched enemy.

Inspiring words + Genuine heart expressing them = authentic empowering
Herb Brooks’ speech before their match with the Soviets is masterful, perhaps the best recorded “sports” motivational speech I’ve ever seen. He inspires them. He’s genuine. His love for the game and for them comes through.

Here’s the leadership lesson: if I had said those same words to that team, it would have had no effect. If James Earl Jones had boomed those same words, or a member of the US Olympic Hockey oversight team, it would have been pretty ho-hum. They might have listened politely, but the words would not have empowered them. Leaders must use words, but only words expressed from a genuine heart carry weight and resonate in ways that change others.

Leaders celebrate victories
Toward the end of the film there is a moving scene where Herb Brooks retreats to a back hallway and celebrates the remarkable victory over the Soviets. And he also cheers loudly for the team when they receive their gold medals. Their celebration inspired millions!

Leaders celebrate accomplishments. There are times to work and push and push harder. And there are times to celebrate. Don’t shortchange your team by failing to acknowledge wins and taking time to celebrate.

What do you think of these lessons? Are there others you took from this movie?

Friday, May 07, 2010

Praying for Your Congregation

As Bible teachers we're in a position to model praying effectively, particularly for the people in our care. It's important to pray for individual needs as they are apparent. But it's also important to model prayer for the larger, corporate movement of God.

Here's a prayer from John Piper for his congregation, taken from his last sermon before a scheduled sabbatical:

"Send a remarkable awakening that results in…

  • hundreds of people coming to Christ,
  • old animosities being removed,
  • marriages being reconciled and renewed,
  • wayward children coming home,
  • long-standing slavery to sin being conquered,
  • spiritual dullness being replaced by vibrant joy,
  • weak faith being replaced by bold witness,
  • disinterest in prayer being replaced by fervent intercession,
  • boring Bible reading being replaced by passion for the Word,
  • disinterest in global missions being replaced by energy for Christ’s name among the nations, and
  • lukewarm worship being replaced by zeal for the greatness of God’s glory."
There's a model prayer for your congregation!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

How I Use Twitter, Blogger, and Facebook to Encourage People and Know the Condition of My Flock

Social media can take a lot of time and be a huge distraction. Yet I recommend ministry leaders and teachers explore opportunities to use these tools for two purposes:

1. Amplify your voice for the Lord, and share encouraging information to build up disciples
2. Learn more about the condition of those whose souls are entrusted to your spiritual care

In this article I’ll lay out my own strategy, all with no-cost tools, that lets you do both without having to be “online” constantly.

Individual Twitter tweets are limited to 140 characters. Blogs can support any length text, links, and embedded images, audio, and video. You have a lot more control options for Facebook in terms of who sees the information, than you do with Twitter or blogs. All three have a significant place in online ministry.

There are two key principles to follow:
1. Use each tool to its strengths, and schedule your posts so you set up information when you have blocks of time available, and then drip out the content over time so it’s a constant stream of encouragement.
2. Interlink the tools so that the same content is used multiple ways and different audiences.

Let me work through the tools.

I currently run two blogs, each with a different intended audience. Be Bold, Be Gentle is aimed at encouraging husbands and fathers. Teach to Change Lives is aimed at Bible teachers. I use Blogger (a free service) to host both. Were I starting over I would strongly consider using Wordpress on a domain I controlled.

Blogs let me share all kinds of information in multiple formats. Some blog posts are my own writing, and some are designed to point people to valuable content others have published. I tend to get ideas for blog posts in spurts, so I’ll write posts as I can, and then schedule them in advanced to be published. It takes a lot of stress off when you hit a dry spell for ideas, but know you have 1 to 2 weeks of material scheduled for publishing. My goal is to publish a blog post every other day on each blog. Some people are much more ambitious than this, and some publish less frequently. I can’t really create a good level of content at any higher frequency, and it seems to work for me.

I have years of blog posts that are all available to search engines. I can’t really control who sees this information. So I write with a mindset of providing generally helpful information to a broad audience of a lot of different folks.

I use Twitter to publish short, encouraging bits to a broad audience. I do have some controls of who sees Twitter information, but not very much. I assume anything I write on Twitter could go anywhere and be seen by anyone.

My objective for every tweet is that it will encourage people. Therefore I try to have a mix of quotes, Bible verses, prayer reminders, and a very few personal comments. I avoid the temptation to tweet about politics or world events – plenty of others do this. I do not tweet about my exact location or my travels or anything that would affect the privacy of my family. (See my blog post about why I don’t talk about my family on blogs or Twitter. ) I also set up my blog posts so they’re picked up by Twitter, so that’s additional content. (See for help with this.)

I use TweetDeck a few times a week to monitor tweets from people that I’m following. I’ll retweet things which will be helpful to my audiences.
I like to have at least four tweets a day: before 5am, mid-morning, noonish, and afternoon or early evening. But I don’t want to have to be online at those times every day. So I use a free service call SocialOomph which lets set up tweets in advance and specify the day and time they will be published. A few times a week I spend about 15-20 minutes and will crank out 2 or 3 days worth of tweets and schedule them. This approach lets me create the content on my schedule, but drip it out steadily to my audience(s).

Facebook gives me the most control over who sees what information. My personal guideline is to only friend people I know in person, or have some unusually close online presence with. I’m not trying to get to 5000 friends or anything like that. I created a fan page for “Teach the Bible to Change Lives” which is broadly public, but otherwise I’m picky about my Facebook friends. Most are from our church.

The majority of my Facebook posts are actually redirects from Twitter and my blogs. I’ve simply set those up to automatically be posted on Facebook. I also comment on information others post, and occasionally message someone I know on Facebook.

Facebook is a place where many people are expressive about what’s going on in their lives. It’s a avenue for me to hear about family issues (positive and not so positive). As an elder in our church this is very helpful information, and gives me much to pray about. I notice that more women are active on Facebook than men. It’s probably partially because women are more expressive with words than most men, or represents a lack to time.

Putting It All Together
I’m writing up tweets and blog posts, and scheduling those to be published over time I set up Facebook to publish my blog posts and tweets, so that takes care of the Facebook content being updated over time. I’m checking for tweets from others occasionally, and Facebook once or twice daily. I need to update the Facebook fan page for Teach to Change Lives two or three times a week. (Someday I need to figure out how to automate this process!) That keeps my total time for social media in check, and the emphasis on creating helpful content rather than just being a consumer.

Key tools:

My sites:

I encourage you to think about using these tools for ministry. There are already people in these channels, so use the voice God gave you to get His messages in front of them! But guard your heart and use your time wisely.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Making Eye Contact the Right Way

Great Bible teachers make eye contact. It's a necessary connection if you are going to see changed lives.

This isn't too difficult in smaller groups. (Usually teachers who struggle to make eye contact in smaller groups are struggling with a fear. See my special report on overcoming fear at for the help you need.)

In larger groups you need a *strategy* to make eye contact effectively.

You don't want to just pick three people. You don't want to go from person-to-person-to-person in a sequential pattern. You don't want to spend all your time on one side of the room and ignore the other areas.

Try out this strategy, which works well in groups up to about 120: Pick three or four people in different areas as your anchors. (Be sure to pick people who are making frequent eye contact with you.) Rotate your eye contact to these people every 45 seconds. But as you rotate to the next person, shift to somone who is sitting near them. What happens is you gradually are making eye contact with more and more people who are around your anchor persons.

This strategy takes a little practice, but the payoff is huge. After you do this a few times, it will seem natural to you and to your students.

(By the way, you really can't do this eye contact strategy if you're reading from a prepared script. You need to be very familiar with the text and you main ideas that you want to get across. That kind of preparation is at the heart of great Bible teaching!)

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Don't Underestimate the Power of Words

I spoke recently with a teacher who was pretty discouraged about the lack of apparent spiritual growth in the adults she was teaching. "Maybe I should pray and ask God to show them a miracle, and then they will believe!" she said with some exasperation.

I encouraged her to look at the story of Jesus interacting with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. Notice how this event ends in belief for a whole community:

" Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did." So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.
They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world."

Did you catch the point? WORDS convinced them to believe. No statement about miracles there. Just the power of Jesus' words are enough.

(Interestingly, Jesus returns to Galilee after this -- and here a miracle is required. See John 4:46-53)

So do not doubt the power of God's words to transforms lives. Just keep on teaching to change lives.