Friday, December 31, 2010

Teach Less Material, and Teach it Well

Can I encourage you with a 2011 resolution for your teaching?

Teach less material in a lesson, and teach it well. Leave them hungry for more.

Your students will learn more and retain it.
Your efforts at focus and life application will result in more transformed lives.
You'll stand out from the usual "I pour it on them until they can't take any more and then I keep pouring" style of teachers and preachers who don't really care for people.

Teach less material in a lesson, and teach it well. Leave them hungry for more.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Try This Fun Teaching Approach

Here's a fun teaching approach for youth and adults:

Watch clips from movies based on the Bible stories, and have them cross-check with Scripture. Talk about what they observe.

There are quite a few clips available for free on YouTube (e.g., The Nativity), or you can use a DVD or VCR recording.

This works well in smaller groups. If you have a large group, have them break into smaller groups for discussion. It's important that you've seen the clip before and checked out the Scripture yourself.

This strategy makes for a great change-of-pace time. It's not enough to just watch the movie clip(s) -- that's too passive. Make the learning happen by getting into the Word.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Studying Slow

I'm a fast reader. I get through two or three book a week, plus many blog posts and articles.

I like to listen to mp3 recordings of talks and presentations at 1.5 to 2.0x speed.

I advocate a strategy of reading through the whole Bible in 30-40 days, in order to see the big picture and study themes.

But I advocate s-l-0-w study of the Bible for most days. Because the Bible is God's living Word to us, we interact with it deeply. Take one verse (or part of a verse) and dwell with it for 20 minutes. Let it wash over you and resonate in your mind the whole day. Make it the basis of your prayers for that day. Feel it in your chest!

That will do more good for you as a disciple and a teacher than reading twenty commentaries. Oh, you might not sound as smart because you can't quote a bunch of other people's thoughts. But your teaching will have more power, because you've been transformed by the living Word.

Slow down. God has work to do on you. Be still.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Outstanding Resource of Presentations

I'm sure this recommendation will be controversial.

If you're serious about teaching the Bible to change lives, study this book: The Naked Presenter (by Garr Reynolds)

Don't be put off by the title. This is one of the best resources I've ever seen on how to make effective presentations. They keys are simplicity, focus, and engaging people's minds and hearts.

The typical Bible teacher is far too boring and unengaging. Don't you dare bore people with the Gospel! We

Here's a talk he gave at Google a few years ago, which is excellent.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Getting Started on New Years' Resolution Early

Here's a way to help your students: get them thinking about their New Year's resolutions a little early. They're likely to make some. They might even follow-through!

What can you encourage them to include?

Read through the whole Bible systematically in 2011?
Increase the time they pray with spouse and family?
Study a new (to them) book of the Bible in depth?

Now, as a teacher, here's the kicker: what can you help them accomplish in 2011?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Words Belong to God

Paul David Tripp makes an outstanding point: Words belong to God.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

3 Steps Forward -- Fit in Hard Thinking in Your Busy Schedule

I know you're scrambling, busy with MANY things going simultaneously. It's difficult to write, create, think clearly about complex problems, and complete projects.

Here's a three-step process towards being more fruitful (meaning, creating value for yourself and others):

1. Print off this article:
"Getting Creative Things Done: How to Fit Hard Thinking Into a Busy Schedule"

2. Read it, study it.

3. Get your calendar out and start implementing this strategy.

Start on step 1 now.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Reading Scripture Effectively

Teachers, learn from this pastor's example. He is reciting the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) expressively, with body language. Notice how he pauses, how he uses emphasis, variation in tone and volume. Watch his facial expression. Notice how engaged you become, even though the verses may be quite familiar to you.

Take this seriously -- Scripture well-read aloud will teach powerfully.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Don't Apologize For What You Are Doing

I've done it, and I've seen many others do it: apologize at the front or end of a lesson.

Hear me on this: Don't apologize.

First off, it's not a biblical concept. The word apologize isn't a biblical word at all. What you "sort of" mean is "forgive me," but you aren't actually seeking forgiveness, and there's likely nothing to forgive!

Second, it doesn't help.

Sure, you're nervous. You feel inadequate. You might realize you aren't as prepared as you should be. You goofed up the hook and forgot half your best questions.

If those things are true, people don't need that pointed out to them. If they notice, they'll likely be gracious. Or they might not have noticed at all. In the sovereignty of God, you're supposed to be there teaching (no matter how you might feel at the moment)! Don't ding that beautiful truth.

And don't apologize.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Good Source for a Lesson on Prayer

Print off this article "What to Pray For" as a resource. Here are some ideas on how to use it in your teaching ministry:

1. Let this stimulate your private prayer life. Great Bible teachers must be men and women of prayer.

2. Select a few of these suggestions to guide your prayers when you are teaching (typically we open and close in prayer, right?). Make these prayers good models for your students. Remember, prayer is at much caught as taught.

3. This would be an excellent resource for a lesson on example prayers from the New Testament.

Teach to change lives!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Teaching That Sticks has made over 300 resources available at no charge. Excellent information here!

I particularly recommend you check out Teaching That Sticks from the Heath brothers (based on the material in their great book, Made To Stick). You do need to subscribe to their email newsletter, but it's got lots of good material and is free. There is a link to unsubscribe at any time.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Engaging Students for Effective Learning

Teachers, work to engage your students, get them involved and participating -- it will turbocharge their learning potential! (And frankly, it's more fun for you when it's done well.)

I heartily recommend you read through this Presentation Zen article "The Need for Connection and Engagement in Education." Then come back here and comment with your thoughts about how to apply this in the church and in the home.

Remember, the word origin of education is "to draw out." It's not about pouring in, but engagement with your content -- that's teaching to change lives.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

How Jesus Dealt with Legalists Outside the Kingdom

One of the great persistent dangers for the Church is legalism. In several letters, Paul dealt with legalism inside the churches. Here let's look at a time when Jesus dealt with rabbinical legalism.

1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother' and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.”

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matt 15:1-13, emphasis added)

This quote from Isaiah 19:13 is an excellent summary of legalism, isn't it?

8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.”

God wants our words to be authentic expression of love from our hearts, which are (through His power) close to Him. And we are not to teach "merely human rules," but the commandments of God.

Jesus commandment to the disciples is simple: "Leave them" (the ESV has it "Let them alone"). Don't seek them out for confrontation. Don't follow them. Don't participate with them, but leave them behind as we follow Jesus.

Please note that Jesus didn't go after the Pharisees unless they came to him first and confronted Him. He didn't campaign against them or seek them out. And I believe the disciples got the instruction clearly because we never see the disciples going after the rabbinical leaders to confront them.