Thursday, February 23, 2012

Goofs Glenn Has Made

I'm sure that God occasionally whispers to us "Don't make me humble you...because I will!" 

I share the following "goofs" from my own teaching experience to encourage and (likely) to amuse  you.  Remember, it's not about us, it's about the message!

(1) I started a class with a stern admonition that I was going to confiscate any cell phones which made noises.  Several cell phones had gone off the previous week during class and distracted everyone.  "Mute 'em or lose 'em!" I said.  People dutifully pulled out phones and put them on mute or turned them off, and I began my hook question to start the lesson. Not sixty seconds went by before the cell phone in my hip holster rang.  I had not muted my phone.  

(2) My lesson was pretty complicated, using passages from a dozen or so places.  I had decided to use thick stock cardboard for markers for each passage, with sequential numbers on them to help me teach through them in the correct order.  A friend had suggested thick cardboard because it made easy to turn to the right page and pull them out.  I started teaching without the Bible in my hands, and no other notes, confident that my bookmarks would carry the day.  When I turned and picked up my Bible, I missed the spine and grabbed the front cover.  All the markers fell on the floor.  I couldn't remember the order of the verses I had selected, and so wound up teaching something else that week!  I told my friend, "Yes, the thick cardboard bookmarks really do come right out."

(3) One time I intended to play a song from Twila Paris from a cassette tape, using a portable "boom box."  To this day I still do not know how the "Sing Along with Barney" tape got in the boombox, but it sure was a surprise to my senior citizen class!

(4) I was teaching a biographical view of Abram from Genesis 11-13.  I read his name as "Abraham" every time, rather than Abram.  Apparently I even explained to my class that "God will give Abraham the name Abraham later one, but he was originally called Abram."  

(5) Did you know that coffee cups aren't steady on slanted lecterns?  Hmmm?  I bet you did.  What a mess!

What goofs have you made that you're willing to share with the world? 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Could You Teach for Twelve Hours?

There’s a fascinating vignette in Acts 20.  Most people talk about Eutychus, a boy who falls asleep, falls from the window, and is raised to life again.  I want you to consider another aspect of the story: pay attention to the time duration.

“7 On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. 9 Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. 10 Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” 11 Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. 12 The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.”

They begin with a meal, most likely the evening meal (v7).  Paul had plans to leave the next morning, so he taught until midnight (v7).  After the event with Eutychus, they had a meal and Paul continued to teach until daylight (v11).  The overall time was easily 10-12 hours of teaching and interaction with this group of new believers. 

I don’t believe the event was planned this way.  I doubt there was a church bulletin announcement listing the times as 6:00pm to 6:00am!  I doubt that anyone involved, including Paul, thought during the first meal, “OK, let’s get cracking, there is 10 hours of material to cover!” 

I also don’t have an impression here that people left early, drifted away, dwindled down to two fanatic listeners.  Paul, and the discussion held the group for many hours.  It was meaningful, weighty, engaging. (Ok, one boy went into a deep sleep, but it turned out ok even for him.)

Put yourself into Paul’s situation here.  Could you teach and lead discussion for 10-12 hours with an interested group?  What would you say?  What source material would you use to keep their attention?  What tactics would you employ to keep the dialogue moving along constructively, to exhort and encourage the group? 

Can you even imagine yourself in this situation?  Quite different than a 30 minute Bible study lesson, isn’t it?   Instead of focusing on a few verses, this would be like a systematic walk-through of the entire Gospel of Mark, or a long review of the history of the judges and kings leading up to Jesus’ coming. 

Can you imagine the people you regularly teach being engaged for this long a period?  We’ve trained them to expect much less, haven’t we? 

What would it take for you to be prepared to teach and lead discussion like this?  Almost certainly you would need a great familiarity with the Bible.  You’d need to be practiced with leading dialogue in a desired direction.  You would need some teaching endurance power that you might not have today. 

Why not work on these things and be prepared?