Walking through some teaching last night with a few of people made me realize that there is a disconnect, a misguided nature to the way that we teach Biblical truths to the people that God has placed in our paths. This disconnect isn’t inherently wrong, nor does it present itself as a heart issue per se, but it opens up conversation and teaching at a much deeper level. The issue is not with the curriculum that we are teaching but how we apply the teaching and the response to the truths that we are hearing.
Let’s flesh this out a bit. Last night we are working through the advanced year for Porterbrook. If you aren’t engaged in Porterbrook, find a learning site and go. We are talking about the Cross and the theological beauty of the scandal. The depth of the teaching is unreal. The implications are mind boggling and irrational, counter intuitive to the progressive society that we live in. As a group we can clearly define what grace is, and the happenings of the cross and this is where we find the disconnect. With all the teachings that we went over, we as a group struggled to be able to reteach or reframe all the teaching in language that mattered in our culture. We essentially have been taking great theological teaching and letting it die on our own domes (that’s brains in an urban culture).
Questions like; “How can you translate this for the people in your culture?” and “Can you explain this to me if I’m struggling with the nature of the cross?” turned out to be very pressing. Our group, had a difficult time breaking down the knowledge of the Gospel and turning it inside out. If we are going to fulfill the Great Commission we are going to have to turn the teaching inside out.
I love the phrase “turning the teaching inside out,” because it conveys the nature of the Gospel in a way that people can understand. As we peer into the Word, the Gospel infects our hearts, it changes us. We learn the deep truths, as we engage not only the Word but teachings from the word. It goes inside us. To develop disciples that internal engagement has to reflect and turn outward. It’s the nature of the Gospel. So our teaching has engage that reflection, it has to engage the mind and the heart. Our focus cannot be simply on learning, but on the teaching aspect as well. It’s in the nature of a disciple to teach, and reproduce.
Here are a few things to ponder before your teaching, regardless of the medium.
- As a teacher, are you using theoretical language? Is your language conducive for reteaching? Are you pressing out how to teach the information? Are you using real world examples or are you relying on Christian language to reinforce your points?
- Do your people really understand the material or are they just there? How can you format the teaching time to best engage your people? Is it time to step back and make sure that everyone is on the same page?
- How is the Gospel speaking into the hearts of your people? You can turn the knowledge inside out, if it’s not really getting to the inside. Where are your people at in their daily devotions?
- What’s going on in the lives of the people you’re shepherding? How can you leverage daily living as teaching moments? How is the Gospel speaking into their current situations?
- Are you teaching our of your personal experience with the Gospel and whatever curriculum that you are working out of? Do you have stories and life events where the teaching as greatly effected you?
These are just a few of the questions that we should be asking ourselves as we are preparing to teach. The glory of the Gospel is that we can’t add anything to it, to make it work. We can however teach it in ways that press our people deeper in to mission, deeper into community and just plain deeper in.
How are you getting the Gospel to your streets?
I have to admit that last week was rough and this week seemly is rougher, but something is different. Something is different, because I’m different. Last week I was bent on taking on the world. I was going to do something about everything. It was me against the world, and I was going to walk out all the world problems in a fit of rage.
This week someone said something to me, a comment that changed my prospective across the board. It’s not like it’s the first time that this particular person has said something like this to me, in fact I’m pretty sure that it’s the rock that smacked my soul around during sermon prep.
God is God and He loves His people, regardless of what side they are on currently.
In the midst of war zones in Iraq, St. Louis and Israel, (just to name the headlines) God loves His people and my job is simply to pray and witness the Good News of the Gospel. The change that is so invigorating in my life, so undeniably real, that I cannot help but tell someone about it. And that leaves me humbled in complete submission to the Creator.
Who am I and where did I go? That seems to be the question lingering in the air, the question that ultimately falls back into what is my identity in. Does Christ define me or have I attempted to hijack my identity again? It all boils down to who I rest under, is it Adam or is it Christ. If it is Christ, I walk out my prayer in humble submission to the one that paid it all. I begin to see people differently, and my thoughts and actions are transformed through my interactions with the living God. If I rest in Adam, my thoughts and my actions reflect the broken nature of my flesh.
Let us not forget our identities as we walk out our faith, minute by minute, day by day.
God is Glorious
It’s Sunday morning, the coffee is flowing through my veins and our Worship team is blowing up some new bluegrass song that has everyone dancing around like it’s a straight ho down. God is glorious.
That could be the end of this post.
God is glorious, He is faithful and He is alive. We can see it in everything, it’s written on our hearts, sung in our music and lived through our lives. You may have jacked things up, rolling deep in some sin issue, but the fact remains God is glorious. He makes all things good and even through our sin He isn’t stopped. It’s the Good News, Jesus’ blood is sufficient. Our sins have been paid for at a high cost. We sing about it on Sunday’s and we talk about it in small groups. We press it out daily in our lives (hopefully) and we…. There is something missing.
Let me draw out a picture of how our Youth is run at the Bridge. We meet weekly for a missional group. It’s just that, a mission. Currently, we are working through the Multiply curriculum, because we believe that middle school and high school teens are more than capable of understanding The Great Commission.
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20)
So if we know that our teens can cognitively understand The Great Commission and they know the Good News, why are teens falling away from the Church? Why is it so difficult to keep them engaged, wanting and yearning for the Creator of all? It’s simple really, the church (notice the small c) becomes irrelevant and frankly boring to teens. It’s the truth, eventually the programs, events and games fall short. This shouldn’t surprise us, all of these things are temporal. So the question is how do we keep students involved with ministry?
You make the student ministry theirs. You make their relationship with Jesus theirs. It seems to me that Jesus doesn’t become a rhythm in the youths daily lives. The Gospel doesn’t permeate their hearts and their minds and their souls. This is true with students and it’s probably more true than we would like to admit in our congregations. Fostering a desire or a passion is one thing. Faking it for a social medium or to please something is another.
Five Ways to Promote Adding New Rhythms
- Focus on mission. Mission drives community and action to teaching. Your community should know who you are.
- Stop Talking. Teach and develop leaders in your ministry. It’s great that you can do what you do, but your going to die. Don’t let the church die because you got smoked by a bus on your way to Starbucks. We all have amazing God given gifts, foster them and develop future leaders. This drives right back to Focus on Mission. Encourage and push the envelop on pressing the Gospel out in your community.
- Get life on life. Yeah, yeah I now this is Christianeze for meeting up with someone every week. Blah blah blah. Get life on life, that means that you fall deeply in love with the people you shepherd. If you can’t spread that much love, Train leaders. You can’t handle everyone and fall in love with them or their families. (Note: Jesus love, this love needs to have boundaries.)
- Get Dynamic and Organic. If you show up too every meeting with a certain amount of questions and a stricted time schedule you automatically set up barriers and agendas. You limit communication and make it really difficult to be real.
- Teach with the intention of mission. If you’re teaching the Gospel it should be driving you to mission. You’re community, your life. If you’re teaching without the intention of mission you aren’t rolling out point 1 – 3. You aren’t pressing towards The Great Commission and you aren’t following what Jesus commanded us to do.
It’s getting long, there is a lot of information here… get at it. Press the mission, press Jesus and build people up through love.