Tag Archives: teaching

Sermon Sketch | “Between Life and Living”

I wrote this outline on February 19, 2003. I am not sure if I ever shared it in a teaching/preaching setting. However, I wanted to record it for posterity. I have clarified some of the points so that it makes more sense!

Between Life and Living

Life is that which we have.
Living is that which we do.
This is the distinctive of the Christian experience. Faith in Jesus moves us from just having life to living the life that God has given.

There are two types of life:

1. Physical Life
  • All have creatures that breath have this. There is no purpose. It is merely a fact.
2. Spiritual Life
  • This is better than mere physical life. The question is now that you are a live what will you do? This is where learning how to live comes in.

What is Necessary for living?

1. Purpose
  • Where is it found?
  • For the disciple of Jesus it is found in a relationship with him.

  • Why is it necessary?
  • Without a relationship with Jesus we cannot live up to God’s will and purpose for our lives.

2. Desire
  • How do you get it?
  • Desire comes from experiencing the Gospel’s transforming power. (Romans 1:16)

  • How do you keep it?
  • We keep our desire by reminding ourselves of the Gospel and holding onto the truth that it proclaims–that we are now new creations because of Jesus. (2 Cor. 5:17)

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Growing Pains, Pt. 1 | “Fellowship”

What is Fellowship?

Fellowship is more than just being in the same room as someone else or even saying “hello” to those that are around us. Fellowship is found not in the halls that we meet nor in the restaurants that have great atmosphere. Fellowship is the sharing of lives. It is coming to a place where those that at one time were strangers to us have now become family. When those people that before we would have seen only once in a while, now for some reason we find yourself thinking about and wanting to be around them more and more. Fellowship is the process where two or more people’s lives becomes a part of our own life.

I do not mean that another person is being nosy or trying to run or ruin our life. But, when another person becomes a loved one, so that you hurt because they hurt, that is fellowship. It is not an easy road to travel, the one called fellowship. It is a slow and sometimes hurtful journey to bring people in that close. It is not easy, but there is something about being able to share with someone, about having that outside influence and strength. Will we be able to have fellowship with everyone in the church? The truth is no, that is not possible, but what are we doing to reach out and invite in those that we can?

Why Is Fellowship Important?

Growth only happens in an environment where trust exists. If we do not trust those that are around us will we be able to grow and feel safe? One of the most difficult things about growing in faith is being able to share our genuine concerns and know that they will not become the talk of the town, or worse the church. We cannot worship in an environment where we feel that we are being singled out. Trust is built by being trustworthy. Love is known by being loving. Fellowship comes when we are neighbors to strangers and family to friends. This may seem like a difficult way of doing it but that is what Jesus did for us. The apostle Paul writes it this way, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8; NKJV).

A large part of what makes fellowship what it ought to be comes from the way that we react to the people and circumstances that are around us. Do we want fellowship to exist? Then let us be the first to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. These are the tools that we are to use to create an environment that will produce fellowship. To answer the question a little more direct, “Why is fellowship important?” we need to understand that it is in the context of fellowship that we love one another and that people will know that we are Christ’s disciples (John 13:35; NKJV).

How Do We Sustain Fellowship?

Here is where the rubber meets the road so to speak. How do we go about sustaining fellowship within a body? The word that comes to mind is sincerity. If true and lasting fellowship is going to exist there has to be sincerity among those that are acting and doing within the body. If what you do is half-hearted or selfish, fellowship will not grow and it will die quickly if these things come into the body of Christ.

Fellowship will happen when we decide that we are really going to care about those that come to our church, whether visitor or member, and we will love them with the love of God.

Book Review | Teaching Through The Art Of Storytelling

Summary

Teaching Through The Art Of Storytelling by Jon Huckins was not at all what I expected. It was better! I have read many books and articles on preaching and communication, but this book provided something that was both refreshing and thought-provoking–it provided a biblical rationale for storytelling.

Growing up Baptist with the stereotypical “three points and a poem” paradigm of preaching, this book provides a solid understanding of the place of storytelling as a vital and invaluable tool in a communicators repertoire. Does that mean that I will be switching to teaching in this way as the only technique I will utilize? No. But, I have reconsidered my tendency to give my listeners “just the facts” about the biblical text.

My Thoughts

There were three ideas that caused me to pause and think. They were

  1. The historical context of Jesus own upbringing
  2. The teaching style of Jesus himself and,
  3. The application of this method of teaching given our modern context.

I will touch on each of these points and the impressions that Huckins book left.

1. The Historical Context of Jesus Own Upbringing

It is so easy to forget that Jesus was a kid and that he went to school like the rest of us. Now the context of that education was very different because of the 1st century’s cultural realities. But, this does not change the fact that there were teachers, schools and methods and principles of instruction, commonly called pedagogy. What Huckins points out is that Jesus would have been familiar with these practices and that he would have, more than likely, used these methods with his own disciples.

It is so easy at times to forget that Jesus was a human being. A special human being, there is no denying this, but he was a human being nonetheless. And, just because we do not have a complete account if his upbringing, there is no reason to think that Jesus’ educational experiences were that much different from that of his contemporaries. That being said we turn to the second idea that Huckins describes and extols.

2. The teaching style of Jesus himself

The first question that we have to answer is, “What was Jesus teaching style?” What do the Gospels tell us about how Jesus taught and shaped the understanding of his disciples? If we can, at the very least, approach how Jesus went about the process of teaching we to can learn, glean and practice these same principles in our own teaching.

Huckins points out that the majority of what Jesus did was to tell stories or parables. This was not an uncommon practice for rabbis to make up stories that would help their pupils to grasp the concepts and ideas that they were learning. By focusing on one or maybe two key ideas in each story made it easier to address and understand the point being made. Jesus would have been following the educational norms of the day by doing the same. While for some this might make them uncomfortable to think of Jesus using fictional stories, it really is not outside the realm of possibility or probability. Culturally it wold have made sense for Jesus to use a method that the people were accustomed to. Jesus primary concern was the teaching, preaching and spreading of truth.

3. The application of this method of teaching given our modern context.

As I see it there are two issues. They are related because they represent the two extremes. The first extreme is to try and be too creative for the sake of being compelling. The second, is that we are afraid of telling a story or multiple stories because we do not want people to find Truth through a fictional (i.e., false) story.

In response to the first extreme we have to be careful about the reason we tell the story. Does the story actually convey or capture the truth that you are trying to communicate? The way that Huckins’ talks about the story, the purpose is to tell the truth. What this means is that the truth IS being told in the story. It is obvious in that sense. The story causes the hearer to think, but direction and ultimate conclusion can be understood when the full story is revealed.

The second extreme is not better than the first. Out of fear of “deceiving” or “misleading” others we shy away from a helpful tool. If you enjoy reading a good book or watching a new movie or television sitcom is evidence that stories are a part of our experience. To not tap into the imaginations of those who listen to us teach the life changing truths of the Bible would be foolish.

Conclusion

This was a very good book. I enjoyed reading the history of the use of storytelling during the first century. If you are interested in improving your storytelling ability this is a wonderful introduction.