Monday, January 31, 2011

Using Humor to Make Important Points

Humor slides open their ribcage so truth can get in.

Here's an interesting (and funny) short video about new year resolutions which could lead to all kinds of discussions.

What might you do with humor in your next few lessons?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Unpacking a Bible Passage to Teach

Pastor Ron Edmonson outlines 5 questions he uses to unpack a Bible passage:

What does it say?
What does it mean?
How does it apply it to my life?
How does it apply to others?
How can I communicate so they will understand and apply it to their life?

An excellent approach I commend to you!

Now, here's the follow-up challenge: how can you train your students to do this for themselves, so they in turn are able to teach/train/disciple God puts in their sphere of influence?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Systematic Theology Recommendations

Another question I'm asked periodically: "What book(s) on systematic theology do you recommend?"

I personally have benefited enormously from Wayne Grudem's work "Systematic Theology." Readable, gentle and clear -- without losing conviction, and retaining a strong pastoral heart. Credo House reviews other candidates.

Some of our readers prefer Wesley-Arminian or Charismatic frameworks for thought? Anyone want to put forward recommendations for this? (Comment below.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mid-week Communication

Many of you are teaching on a weekly cycle. Midweek communications (usually email) is a terrific way to promote continuity and especially to get people prepared for the next lesson.

I usually keep it short and include:
  • any key reminders of the past week
  • additional observations or follow-ups
  • preview of next week, and suggested "read this in advance" or a question to pique their curiosity

This isn't difficult to do. Here's an excellent example you could follow.

It's on my list this year to get better at this. I used to do it consistently but got "out of the habit."

Friday, January 21, 2011

Are Your Ideas Making It Up the 'Pyramid of Death'?

Ever been frustrated that the key ideas you've taught just don't seem to stick? Don't seem to lead to life-changing application and life-transformation.

You're not alone!

Check out Alan Danielson's "Pyramid of Death" presentation (5 levels of idea assimilation). I suspect you'll find this a useful framework for evaluating the effectiveness of your teaching.

You can learn more about the origins of this diagram.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Yes, Thompson's!

I've written before about my recommendation that every Bible student and teacher use the Thompson's Chain Reference Bible. I was delighted to discover that there is even a Wikipedia page for the TCR!

You can access the Thompson's Chain Reference information online (free), but I'm still advocating a print copy.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


This is a very creative idea to promote study and memorization of books of the Bible: Journibles.

What do you think? Are there other ways you help your students memorize passages of Scripture?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sheep and Shepherds

People are described as sheep over 100 times in the Bible -- it's accurate, and it's not meant as a cuddly compliment. If you've been around sheep for any time, you understand that they filthy, stupid, and defenseless animals.

I was delighted to read a pair of companion articles discussing sheep and shepherds:

Sheep: This Time It's Personal
The Shepherd Leader

Not only do I think that you, dear teacher, should heartily acknowledge your shepherding role in the body, but these would make the basis for a great lesson or two!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why Foreign Films Without Subtitles Don't Communicate

Occasionally I hear people cite the (wrong) statistic that your words count for 7%, tonality for 38%, and body language 55% of your communication.

This blog post, "Get Your Communication Right," gives you the correct information that you need as a Bible teacher or preacher.

"If verbal communication only accounts for 7% of a message then we could all communicate by mime, charades would be easy and we could watch foreign language films with the sub-titles turned off.

Try this: Turn to a friend or colleague and try to communicate without words, “I feel deeply about global warming because I feel as humans we have a responsibility to our environment and the generations that follow us.” It’s not possible but according to some so-called specialists we should be able to get 93% of this message across.

Words are very important, they create meaning. We can use words to inspire, motivate and to reframe toxic or unresourceful mindsets."

Read the whole article, it's worthwhile.

Focus on your words first, and then work to make your tonality and body language support those words! That's the way to teach the Bible to change lives.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Spiritual Warfare

If you teach the Bible very long, across different audiences, you'll run into people who have lots of questions about spiritual warfare. Sometimes they're coming from fearful or painful experiences. Other times they're simply very, very curious. In many cases people are loaded up with ideas and information that simply doesn't square with Scripture.

Here's my advice:

1. Don't allow this topic to become a focus point for their faith and life. Jesus needs to be the focus.

2. Get some accurate, trustworthy information. There's considerable goofiness on the Internet and in books and magazines. Go here: Spiritual Warfare 101.

3. Teach calmly, firmly, and carefully -- work only from Scripture.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Try These Tips For Better Projection

It's important that you learn to project your voice, especially if you're teaching a group that's larger than 2 people sitting with you. This takes practice.

It's not yelling, or merely speaking louder. Projection requires focused effort to speak from your diaphram, not just the back of your mouth. It helps me to imagine my words rushing past my teeth at high speed, targeting them to individuals in the back of the room. And you must enunciate syllables. It may feel weird, but it will sound much better.

One of the most common issues that cause people to stumble and mumble is nervousness. Relax, remember that God is the One who has you here at this point in time for these particular people. Sip water if your mouth gets dry; it's difficult to project well when your tongue sticks to your cheeks!

The other thing which helps me project better is simply to stand with excellent posture. This helps free up your diaphram muscles and open your throat. Give sustained eye contact with individuals in your group, and speak to them.

Solicit a friend to give you feedback on how well you are doing with projection. Specifically ask this person to "rate" your projection at 4 or 5 times over 30 minutes. It's easy to project well at the start and then lapse down.

Try these tips for better projection. Quality projection means you're heard, and appreciated.

(By the way, ff you're teaching to a really large group, or in a room bigger than, say, 25x40 feet, then I recommend a microphone. Even with a microphone, the quality of your voice will be superior if you are working at projection.)

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Guidance for Bible Teachers on Using Social Media

I'm getting more email questions about the best ways to use social media tools like Twitter and Facebook -- or advice about how to get out of a sticky situation created with these tools.

Click now here:

When pastors update and tweet (Do’s and Don’ts)

by Steve Cornell, and print it off. Read it, and read it again. Now go practice what you read.

(And for those of you saying, 'But I'm not a pastor,' think carefully -- your role overlaps with a pastor's role, and you are a priest serving in the kingdom of our Lord. Act like it.)

Monday, January 03, 2011

Here's a Teacher!

Watch Hans Rosling as a teacher (the information and technical tricks are fascinating, too). What can you learn from him about presentation style? Seriously, he's teaching from statistical data of world economics! What can you do with the living Word of God?

Saturday, January 01, 2011

US and World trends for 2011

Don Sweeting has a remarkably insightful list of US and world trends for 2011. I recommend you print this off, mark it up, think about it.

Probably the scariest trend for me: "The withering of discipleship in the American church"

You and I, dear Bible teachers, must be about teaching to change lives.

Happy 2011!

Happy New Year, everyone! May God make His Name glorious in your life, and bless you.