Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thinking Wisely Using Biblical Frameworks

This week I've had four different conversations with people who were struggling to understand how to deal with complex situations -- but situations the Bible does speak to!  The issue for them is that it didn't fall neatly into a phrase they could find in their concordance. 

If you'd like to improve your ability as a teacher to understand how the Bible speaks to contemporary and challenging situations (like bioethics, parenting styles, dealing with local tax laws, or job choices), then I recommend you get Think Wisely Using Biblical Frameworks

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ask for Prayer

I humbly remind you, dear teacher, to ask people to pray for you and your ministry of teaching God's Word.  Do not hesitate, do not think it makes you look weak, put aside any pride on this -- ASK for prayer support. 

People to ask:

Your pastor(s) or minister(s)
Your spouse
Other teachers
Key people who know you well, especially your weaknesses
Your students

Friday, March 25, 2011

How to OverCome Fear

Check out my free report on overcoming fear.  You'll learn:
  • The #1 Way to Overcome Fear of Teaching
  • Why the right kind of Fear gives you boldness and energy
  • The two best ways to deal with the "stress-response" fear produces in your body
  • The psychological truth about your students that will help you overcome fear

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Grudem's Systematic Theology in Different Formats

I've been blessed by Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology -- terrific, readable, deep in the right places, gentle-spirited.  I believe it deserves a handy spot on your reference shelf. But it's a long book, and I know many you struggle with reading long books.

The good news is that Systematic Theology is now available as a series of paperbacks or DVD talks.   Great stuff, excellent for yourself or working with teachers you are coaching.

HT: Between Two Worlds

Saturday, March 19, 2011

We Don’t Get to Rebuke the Lord

(This is from a short devotion I led recently. -- Glenn)

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Matthew 16:21-28

Observations to apply in our lives:
• We don’t get to rebuke the Lord. We don’t get to say “No, Lord.”

• Geographic orientation – don’t get between me and my destination (Jerusalem)

• Personal orientation – we are to follow Jesus

• Top of mind concerns should be the concerns of God

• May we be small or non-existent stumbling blocks to Jesus!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hell is the Default Destination

Joel Beeke on Hell from Puritan Reformed on Vimeo.

It's not always comfortable to speak clearly about the reality of hell, but it's biblical.  I would add a few points to the short video above:
  • Understanding that hell is our default destination enables us to appreciate God's grace, and heaven.
  • Our ability to forgive others is rooted in the FACT that every sin against us is either dealt with by the cross of Christ, or in hell.  God is just.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

People Do Not Drift Toward Holiness

Terrific quote from D.A. Carson, worth pondering:

“People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”

Sunday, March 13, 2011

"That Scumbag Piper!"

I recently corresponded by email with a subscriber who was furious that I referred anyone to John Piper's sermons or videos or book.  In one email he wrote "That scumbag Piper..." and ranted on about some unspecified heresies and apostasies.

As teachers we share a great responsibility to teach with integrity, to the best of our understanding, and model gracious dialogue and mutual edification for our students.

I lean conservative in my theological views, but am happy to relay good information and insights from more liberal theologians and pastors, too.  If someone disagrees with me about disputable matters, it's wrong to break fellowship and tear that person down.  We must deal with wrong teaching about non-disputable matters, of course.  Even then there is a grace-saturated process which honors the Lord and His Church.)

I strongly disagree on economic and political matters with millions of my fellow US citizens -- but they're my fellow citizens, not my enemy.  By the grace of God, I have more in common with Palestinian Christians and Pakistani Christians and Iranian Christians than I do even with my fellow American citizens. We all have a common enemy, Satan, who is delighted when we attack our fellow Christians, forgetting that we are all servants of Jesus.

In your teaching, model graciousness towards all fellow Christians.  If you feel a person has taught something wrong, work from Scripture and address it that way.  Remember that we are all under THE higher authority!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Four Parts of a Great Bible lesson

(I've published this before, but thought it was worth sharing again. -- Glenn)

Let me share with you a basic Bible lesson structure that you can use over and over again.

But first I want to warn you about some dangers.

Is there anything too hard for God? No.

Is there anything God cannot do? Yes.

God cannot tell a lie.

But people do tell lies. Some self-declared "coaches" for Bible teachers work very hard to scare you with the "complex, arcane art" of creating a bible lesson. More than one person has told me that it was so difficult that ordinary Sunday School teachers should leave it to the professionals. "Just stick with the bible lessons in X guide, and you won't have to work hard at all."

I'll be blunt: This garbage drives me nuts. It's a lie.

There is no reason for a whole generation of Sunday School teachers and small group Bible study leaders to be limited to using study guides and outlines that were written for some other audience. One lady wrote me to complain about a particular series (I'll protect the guilty by not naming it here, because I haven't examined that one myself). "Who are they writing these questions for? Someone on Mars maybe? They don't make sense to my ladies at all."

Let me give you the basic lesson structure that you can use all the time. It's proven. It works. It's easily adapted to whatever part of the Bible you are studying, or a biblical topic. It's not complicated.

Here are the four parts of a great Bible lesson:

1. Introduction. I prefer to call this a "hook," because your job is to get their attention and help them understand that what's coming is relevant and meaningful for them. One teacher friend says he aims to "hook a nerve." The hook should take about 1-3 minutes, tops.

2. Main lesson points. This is the meat of the lesson, where you are going to spend 85% of your time, maybe more. Remember that you are not doing a sermon here -- so you can build the main lesson points around key elements from the Scripture text(s), plus your questions that are designed to promote discussion. People learn better when they're engaged.

By the way, I recommend you cover less information with more discussion and engagement. If you're accustomed to racing through material, this will be hard and "feel" wrong. But real-world teaching shows that greater learning comes when you focus on fewer points and help people grasp those well.

3. The application. Teachers who are teaching to change lives ALWAYS have a life application. What are your students going to do differently this next week because of what they've learned? How can they put this into practice? How does this enhance their understanding of God's ways? We're not doing this to fill heads and tickle ears!

Ideally, this isn't a separate "section" of the lesson, but is integrated into the main lesson points.

4. The close. It's traditional to do a quick recap, maybe a preview of the next lesson, and then a closing prayer. You can do that, but there is a better way: launch them.
I taught for more than 18 years before I figured out that "close" is the wrong mindset. You just provided them with a great lesson, with good application. Don't shut it down, don't kill the energy. Instead, LAUNCH them into ministry. Make your final statements and prayer about launching them into works of service (see Ephesians 4; teachers teach and equip so that people are able to do the work of ministry in the areas God has placed them.)

So those are the four parts of a great Bible lesson.

It's not a hard concept, and I know you can make your own lesson using this format -- I've coached thousands of teachers now to do this effectively.

Even though it's a simple concept, even experienced Bible teachers are always learning how to make it better. Great Bible Teaching is a craft, not a formula.

Don't listen to the "gurus" and "professionals" who tell you that you can't create lessons or improve upon what "they" wrote. Because you can, and with God's direction and help, you'll be able to give lessons that lead to changed lives. And that's what counts!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Free Weekly Teaching Tips

You can sign up for my free weekly teaching tips by email.  Over 14,300 people have found helpful information this way and you can, too.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Sunday School Revolutionary

If you're teaching adult classes -- even if you're not part of a "Baptist-like" system for Sunday School, I recommend you subscribe (free) to updates from the Sunday School Revolutionary blog.  Good stuff, practical, encouraging. 

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Encouraging People!

I believe one of our roles as teachers is to encourage and build up the people God has put in our sphere of influence. I use short emails or text messages to do this, to let people know that I'm praying for them. Here's the story of one method: Bzzzzz! messages.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

What's the One Thing?

As you work on preparing your lessons, prayerfully going over material, considering opening hooks and life application, illustrations, stories, etc -- all to help people engage and understand! -- here's the powerful question I implore you to ask:

What's the One Thing God wants them to get from this?

Notice that you should ask what God wants them to get from this.

Notice that it's ONE THING. They may get more, but they need to get at least ONE THING.

Sometimes it's not going to be obvious to you. Sometimes you might have several candidates. But I guarantee that diligently, prayerfully asking this question will improve your lessons! This is teaching to change lives.