How Would Jesus Teach?

HWJT?

A few years ago the buzz was WWJD? – What Would Jesus Do? You saw these four letters and question mark just about anywhere you went. Not only was it prominent in churches but the mainstream of our society picked up on that idea. This simple reminder did make you pause and think about what you might do if Jesus were to do the same thing.

But Jesus not only showed us a better way, He also gave us, as teachers, excellent models to follow to impact our learners. He chose not to stay in one teaching style in his ministry – neither should we. You might say we need to ask the question – HWJT? (How Would Jesus Teach?)

Here are just some examples of what He did to get his points across.

Visual – People got the point when he pointed out things they could see as he spoke at the Sermon on the Mount. (“See the lilies of the field grow”. – Matthew 6:28)

Aural – You would have been awe struck as well if you had heard Jesus begin his ministry by speaking in the synagogue by saying that the words of Isaiah have now come true. (Luke 4:18-19)

Read/Write – Wouldn’t you have wanted to know what Jesus wrote on the ground when the religious leaders brought in a lady caught in adultery? We see him write not just once but twice! Whatever the scrawled out words were, it helped change the course of the discussion with his accusers! (John 8: 6-8)

Kinesthetic – It was time to put all the learning into practice. Jesus gathers a group of over seventy followers and sends them out to do ministry. They come back excited and ready for more. The Good News is not stagnant! (Luke 10)

Your Sunday School or small group ministry can really come alive if you make sure that you use these ways to engage your learners. Not everyone in your group will be comfortable in just one style. If that is true, we can’t be cozy in our preferred method. Remember that Jesus didn’t either!

Our guest writer this week is Steve Zimmerman. Steve is the founding partner of the Barnabas Partnership based out of Danville. He and his other partners have been doing short-term ministry support activities for Baptist churches across the South since 2009. To learn more about their work, check them out at http://www.barnabaspartnership.com.

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Sunday School and Prayer

Whether you are an experienced, veteran teacher of many years or a new teachers still trying to get your bearing about the whole Sunday School thing; I want to suggest prayer. This sounds so simple & elementary. But after all, you have a teacher’s book and maybe some additional resources and a kit for your age group with lots of helps and suggestions. You may have a good Study Bible with extra stuff you can use. You may be savvy enough to go to the internet and find lots of other resources. You may have even been to a Eagle Eyrie or Ridgecrest of some seminar for SS teachers. Great! Wonderful! More power to you for your resourcefulness! I congratulate you on your preparation! Good job! But there is still something else – prayer.

I remember in college having the opportunity to preach at a local church. I worked on my sermon for many weeks in the college library looking up references, illustrations and finding out all I could about the subject. I was primed & ready to go only to preach & fall on my face & come away feeling like I preached the worse sermon ever. I really had not prayed about it that much. I was doing most of the work on my own. There have been times when teaching Sunday School I have had similar experiences.

I Cor 3:6 Paul writes: I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. Did you catch that last part? It is God who gives the increase after we have given our best to be faithful. Let me suggest that you pray:

> during the preparation time;
> ask God how you are to approach the text & lesson;
> that YOU will be open to God’s method & approach;
> people in the class would be open to receive;
> that there would be a positive change as a result of the text/lesson;
> your class would grow spiritually & in number;
> that God would call laborers from your class;
> the positive spirit of your class will spread to other classes;
> ask your class to pray for you to do your best;
> that you pray more often & more fervently;
> And remember pray without ceasing;

Now go pray, study & prepare and have a great class.

Tommy Speight
Courtland Baptist Church

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One Word for Your Sunday School in 2015?

The New Year brings resolutions to do better in 2015. Some people even set goals for losing weight or getting their financial house in order. Some might resolve to go to church more or have a more disciplined quiet time. But most people will already have given up their resolutions by the middle of the month.

I am as guilty as anyone else. I make my goals to lose 15 pounds or go to the gym at least three times a week. I am determined to spend 30 minutes a day in prayer and Bible study. My wife and I will go on a “date” at least two times a month. When I don’t meet those goals, I get down and defeated.

Jon Gordon, one of our Leadership Gathering lead speakers a few years ago, introduced me to a new resource to help me get a better handle on my goals. I then I noticed that the United States Military Academy Men’s Basketball Team signed up for the same process. So I invite you to do the same.

The concept is simple – find one word! Yes, that’s right! Find One Word that will make an impact on your life and plan around that one word. Jimmy Page, Dan Britton, and Jon Gordon put a book together called One Word That Will Change Your Life. The response to the book has been enormous. People have discovered a new way at looking at their focus for the year. Take a look at their website at http://www.getoneword.com and see the resources that available for you.

I have decided my word for 2015 is Discipline. I am going to build my ministry, financial life, emotional health, work with churches, and family life around this concept. The process encourages you to use their three phases — Looked In, Looking Up, and Looking Out- to find that one word that will drive you to purposeful action for the year.

Here are some of the One Words I have seen people develop – Focus, Believe, Now, Determined, Purpose, Faith . . . and the list goes on. Your One Word will help you organize and move forward your life journey.

How about your Sunday School or your Bible study class? What resolutions or goals have you established for 2015? What is the One Word that God wants you to organize around for 2015 – Innovate, Care, Outreach, Evangelize, Study? I encourage you to find the One Word for your church. That one word could change the life of your congregation.

Ken Kessler, Leader of the Empowering Leaders Team for the Baptist General Association of Virginia, is our guest writer this week.

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Come Before Winter: Teacher and Worker Appreciation

“Do your best to get here before winter.” (II Timothy 4:21a NIV)

Clarence Edward McCartney was pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Pittsburg, PA. He preached a sermon on this passage, and the church was so moved emotionally they asked him to preach it every year. He did preach it once every year for 37 years. His premise was simple. Paul wanted Timothy to come see him before winter, because he knew that he may be executed soon. Did Timothy make it? We don’t know. Clarence imagined that he did not go right away. He waited and handled some of the pressing issues in his life. When he made it in the Spring, it was too late! What are you putting off? For the sake of this blog, I want to talk to SS Directors and teachers of Bible study about the present and not putting things off. Here are a few thoughts:

SS Directors and Staff: Show appreciation to your Bible study leaders and other workers now. Don’t assume class members or others are thanking these valued workers! Take time to thank them in the following ways:

Send a “thank you” note once a quarter.

Send birthday cards.

Minister to teachers and workers in times of crisis/concern in their families.

Have an appreciation dinner at least once a year. You can use a regular Wednesday night meal to start this one off, if you have one. Just add balloons and a simple gift bag of appreciation for teachers as you honor them. If you want to take it to the next level for an appreciation, have a special dinner and invite someone like myself to come and share words of inspiration.

Recognize teachers in your church newsletter or worship bulletin.

If a church member has a second home on the lake or another place to get away, ask if you can use it once a month for an overnight stay. You may be able to give this place to a teacher and their family once a month for an overnight getaway. I have done so in a previous church!

Teachers need to take time to thank others who assist them now.

Send a “thank you” note to other workers in your class- Secretary, Outreach Leader, Care-group Leaders…etc.

Send birthday cards.

Minister to the workers in times of need.

For more ideas contact me at tony.brooks@bgav.org Don’t wait to thank and show love/care to your volunteers in Bible study/small groups. Do it now.

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The Simple Things Matter at Christmas

I pray you are all enjoying the Advent/Christmas season. Since I will be away the next couple of weeks and unable to send out a blog, I am sending one early. Look to do the simple things during this Christmas season.

Christmas is about eternal hope, peace, joy, and love. It is about being with family, friends and church family as we share in the message of Emmanuel, God with us. It is recognizing the simple, smallest gifts are most important. Each Christmas I remember a former staff member (Jay Hurd) at First Baptist in Talladega, Alabama who penned these words. Here is a great poem and message for this time of the year:

Not richly wrapped; no foil or paper bright, in an unobtrusive corner, almost out of sight; lay a tiny package under the orphanage Christmas tree; when finally it was found, was the only one left for me. My heart fell with sadness; it was not fair at all. The others grabbed the large gifts, while mine was so very small.

Retreating to a corner, tears welling in my eyes, I didn’t want the others to see me as I began to cry. The paper was so crumpled, the ribbon seemed so old, but through the tear stained wrapping shone the glint of gold. Beautiful golden locket shaped into a dove, the note inside said, “For you child the gift today is love. For several years I’ve come to watch to find a child like you. One that didn’t push and shove the way the others do; Now you need to know me, the mystery to unfold, I wear a golden locket just like the one you hold.”

My eyes flew to the visitors who often brought us goods, a chain of gold around her neck, so elegantly she stood. Years it’s been since she took me home, but the lesson I recall; love remains the greatest gift, but its’ often packaged small.

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:7

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Discovering God’s Love through Bible Study at Christmas

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17 NIV)

Isn’t it marvelous to see Christmas through the eyes of a child? Children seem to take it all in like a sponge! They want to hear the Christmas story, see the lights, sing the Christmas carols and participate/watch the live Nativity. Yes, they are going to want to see Santa Claus, watch the traditional Christmas programs on TV and expect candy and presents as well.

Though these traditions may add to the experience, Christmas is the perfect time to witness the love of God through Bible study in Word and deed. Children, youth and adults need to grasp the depth of God’s love. We cannot fully grasp God’s love simply by witnessing the birth of the Christ Child. We must see the adult Jesus as well who chose to reach all whose heart was open to his message. We must see Jesus’ ultimate goal to follow God’s will even if it meant a cross. We need to grasp the manger along with the cross and the empty tomb.

Along with discovering God’s love through Bible study at Christmas, find ways to demonstrate Jesus’ love for others. It is when we give during the time that we get closer to abiding and see God’s love for others.

Encourage quality family time to talk about the birth of Jesus and implications of his life as well as time to serve others in the community. Some of my greatest Christmas memories have been serving with my family. Here are a few ideas:

Take your class/family to the hospital or nursing home. Be the presence of Christ and share God’s love through caroling to persons who are lonely and in need of someone’s care.

Bring a meal to a shut-in. Don’t just bring them a meal. Call and set up a time that your class and/or members of your class can bring a meal to share. A shut-in will appreciate a good home-cooked meal, but will enjoy your presence even more.

Volunteer at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, give blood to the Red Cross or provide another service in the community. Show God’s love through deed and word.

The story of the birth of Christ should sweep across us and cause us to want to love others. Mother Theresa once put it this way:

Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your

children, to your wife or husband, to s next door neighbor…Let no one ever come to you

without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness

in your face; kindness in your eyes; kindness in your smiles; kindness in your warm

greeting.  

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Discovering “Joy” in Bible Study

4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
(John 15:4-5, 11 NIV)

It would be easy to allow despair and gloom to take hold of our small groups and Bible studies in light of the violence around the world. It would be easy to allow anxiety to paralyze us over the events in the past few weeks as we saw on the TV screen the tragic events in Ferguson and NY. I see Christians with different views of these events that prompted anger, hatred and verbal violence on Facebook. The same may be happening in some of your Bible study groups. Please hear me say that God always wants us to stand up for what may be injustices. We, however, should never allow ourselves to be overly focused to the point that we become less than what Jesus expects in our attitudes and behavior.
Galatians 5:22-23 reminds us that, 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. We have an obligation to the class to focus on abiding in Christ, bearing fruit and transforming lives. Here are some ways we can allow Christ’s joy be in us.

Bible study is about abiding in Christ. Let your focus be on your group and what Christ wants.

Pray for families on both sides of a tragic experience. When we pray for all people involved, we are less likely to make one group out to be villains. God may lead us to express in tangible ways God’s love to families on both sides affected by tragedy.

Focus on the lives of your group and lesson. Events in the news can monopolize your Bible study and you will miss out on what God is doing with individuals in the group. Acknowledge tragedy, pray for the families and see if God has a tangible way to help. Then move on to the lesson.

Recognize your attitude as the teacher matters. Dr. Joey Faucette and Mike Van Vranken in Faith Positive in a Negative World shares a wonderful illustration about our attitudes. Joey and his four year old daughter set up a bird feeder in their back yard in the winter to watch the pretty birds come to eat. Soon the squirrels began to take over the feeder. Soon Joey began reminding his daughter to look for the squirrels at the feeder, so he could get rid of them. Each day he would remind her. One day she said these wise words, “Daddy, we used to look out the window for pretty birds. Now we look for ugly squirrels.” Joey realized all of the joy of the bird feeder was gone. (If you want to know about this book and a special program for business professionals in your church, e-mail me at tony.brooks@vbmb.org.)

Last week I had the chance to teach the Roma Pastors in Romania. The Roma people have been marginalized by the Romanians. Many cannot find jobs. Most of the Roma pastors are not paid by their congregation, because their congregational members can’t afford to give much. Yet the Roma pastors are filled with joy. At every break they would pull out the guitar and accordion and play and sing praises to God. Our world’s state and life’s circumstances do not determine their joy. Their joy comes in abiding in Christ and sharing that joy with others.

May we grasp hold of this concept and let it spread!

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