Part 1: How to teach through a book of the Bible
I recently just finished teaching through the book of Ephesians with our High School students. I think it went well, but a wise youth pastor once told me that you don’t fully understand the book until you teach it at least three times. And after teaching through Ephesians I would say he is spot on. There are many things I will do differently and better the next time I teach through Ephesians, but none the less it was a good practice.
As I taught through Ephesians here is a small sample of subjects I covered: sex, marriage, parents, anger, integrity, unity, spiritual warfare, and many others. The best part is since the first half of Ephesians is essentially explaining the Gospel, I got to talk about the rest of these subjects, in reference to how they relate to the Gospel. Many times I would ask how does anger or sex or unity, fit with the theme of the first three chapters of Ephesians. This made the Gospel practical. With all this being said, here are some things I would like to do better as I teach through books of the Bible.
- Get farther ahead: I realize this is difficult, but if I could have gotten 3-4 weeks ahead, I could have connected some passages together. The easiest way to get ahead, is have 2-3 lessons done before you even start the Bible study. This also helps when you have overwhelming weeks.
- Get better at outlining: As I got farther into teaching the book, I got better at following the structure and theme of the book. This is where a good commentary comes in handy. For Ephesians I used Peter O’Brien’s commentary. As difficult as this was with one of Paul’s letters, I know it will be much harder with a narrative book.
- Develop one concise memorable theme: The theme I used was building a life in Christ, and we made the Gospel the foundation of the building, and added to the building with each subject. There is construction imagery in Ephesians, that I don’t come close to completely understanding but it worked well. I wish that I had fully developed this all the way out before using it.
About six months ago I stood before our high school ministry group and told them that I knew that some of them were trying to figure out how to follow Christ. I then told them that if they were interested in a unique Bible Study that would meet once a month to send me a text, email, or facebook me. I got seven responses, and to those seven people I sent a notebook with instructions on reading the Gospel of Matthew. After a month of reading Matthew we met at my wife and I’s house for a great time of fellowship, eating, and in-depth discussion of Matthew. At the conclusion of this time the students were allowed to decide where we would go next. I told them I would not do Revelation and that I wanted to stay in the New Testament, so they chose Romans. I warned them that Romans would be hard, but they went with Romans.
Sunday we met again and discussed Romans after reading it for almost two months. Now I had read the book of Romans many times before, but there was something about reading it over and over. I read it and took notes. I read it and did not take notes. Sometimes I took detailed notes, other times I looked for specific words or phrases. I read out of different versions. I entered into this reading with some preconceived questions, and exited with more questions than answers, and here is the joy.
I had a professor tell us in class one day that it was not his job or wish to answer our questions that we have about the Bible, but to get us to ask the right questions about the Bible. He was not calling us stupid, but just letting us know that there was an entire world out there that we thought we could interpret and understand, and in truth we had not even touched it.
So I leave Romans and move on to the Gospel of John and 1, 2, and 3 John truly enjoying the journey. I enjoy jumping into the deep end of God’s Word, and greatly enjoy looking forward to discussing it with some great high schoolers, who are striving to spend time with God.
I started this as a discipline that I wanted to keep going, and at times it has gone well at other times it has not. It has been a busy summer but it is now officially over, so maybe I can try and revive the discipline again. Here are some good/bad highlights for the summer.
- We went almost the entire summer without tv. We could still watch movies, but once the digital change over happened everything went away. It was not that bad.
- Mission Trip-got to join with 4 other youth groups to do a mission trip to N. Dakota, went extremely well.
- The only full-time staff member. I am now it for the time being, this will stretch me.
- Stopped Reading: I was so busy that I basically just stopped reading for the summer. I had started The Faith by Chuck Colson and Simple Student Ministry by Eric Geiger, but never got a chance to finish them, now looking forward to it.
- Got to write the Bible Studies for our Back2School Retreat our theme was Loving God/Loving Others. Enjoyed the writing, would have enjoyed it more if less busy.
Sunday was our 3rd annual High School vs. Adult kickball game. The adults were behind most of the game. In our last at bat we needed one run to tie and two to win, but could only pull off one run. So the decision was made to play one extra inning and if nobody scored the game would end in a tie.
The adults allowed no runs in the top half of the inning and scored one run with two outs to win the game. Most importantly the parents, adults, and students all had a great time. If anyone has any other ideas of how to get students and parents together and have a good time let me know.
Our student ministry does 7th-8th grade and 9th-12th grade ministry separately. Our middle school ministry is on Wednesday nights and our high school ministry is on Sunday nights. Last year I wrestled with when to let 6th graders start coming, and in that wrestling process we tried something new. We let 6th graders start coming about three weeks before school was out.
The main reason for this is because, we have a great middle school principal that lets me come hang out at lunch every Wednesday. So every Wednesday I go hang out with the 7th graders at their lunch, the 8th graders at their lunch, and would stay for the 6th grade lunch. What we realized was that by letting them come before the school year was over, I would be able to remind them at school that they were now able to come.
Another reason for this, is that our attendance dramatically drops during the summer. So by letting the 6th graders come our attendance gets a boost. While this might sound superficial, middle schoolers want to go to places where there are a lot of middle schoolers. So if we only have five students show up for three weeks in a row, soon it will be two students.
So this is how we do it, how do you do it?