3 Ways to Assist your Group to Grow from Burning Bush Experiences

In Exodus 3 we read these words: “Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mo…

Source: 3 Ways to Assist your Group to Grow from Burning Bush Experiences

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3 Ways to Assist your Group to Grow from Burning Bush Experiences

In Exodus 3 we read these words: “Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

Today I want to talk about one of the most important functions we have as SS teachers: helping our students see God at work. Moses took the time to see why the burning bush was not consumed by the fire. Because he took the time, God spoke to him. We live in a fast paced, tunnel vision world. It is time to help students slow down and see where God is working.

As we prepare to teach every week, hopefully we have two foci in mind: studying the text and finding ways to help our folks discover its application for themselves, and providing an environment where students/disciples can experience God in their lives. Though we may not have a burning bush experience every day, God is always at work in our world. We simply need to help others see God at work. So how do we do that?

Share your own burning bush experiences. I will never forget Dr. Karen Joines in an OT class at Samford University talking about the Jewish perspective about God and life. When his son was born and he was taking him home from the hospital, he noticed the trees’ branches arching across the road. The wind was blowing hard enough for the branches to almost touch each other in the middle of the road. To the common person, it was simply the wind blowing. Dr. Joines, however, saw it as God’s approval of the new birth as the trees were clapping. Some may see it as sentimental, but it reminded me that God is all around us and wanting us to take notice.

At other times, it may be a tragic experience and we are simply helping a person see where God is wanting us to bring something good into the situation like our response to a natural disaster as a class. (I keep in mind Romans 8:28 at this point.)

Have an environment where others share their experiences. Perhaps some may feel intimidated by the thought in class, but allow them to share by e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or other ways as they see God working in our world until trust is built. Of course for people to share intimate experiences in class, we must have a level of trust. Other opportunities outside of class experiences make this a more plausible possibility as you have socials, service projects and opportunities for people to bond. As people realize that another in the class has something to say about how God is working and may help them, they will feel more comfortable sharing and listening closely to another’s opinion.

Help others flesh out what God is saying to them through theitr experience. At this point we are simply life coaches asking powerful questions as people process what God is saying. Typically when God shows me something, I should be asking, “What does God want me to do?” So, as teachers, we are asking questions like: What do you think God is saying to you through this experience? How can we be praying for you as you process this experience?

The bottom line is: all of us need people reminders to look for God each day or we spend our entire lives focused on the trivial and miss the eternal. Read the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning –

Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God;

And only ~he who sees~ takes off his shoes,

While the rest sit round it and pluck blackberries

Do we recognize God speaking to us from every place and every bush or do we just sit round picking blackberries and making blackberry jam?

 

 

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Five Ways to Encourage Spiritual Growth for your Teachers

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (II Peter 3:18 NIV)

We all need to grow. Teachers are no exception. We learn best by being with others and hearing what they share about Scripture as we study together. Teachers in preschool, children, youth and special needs classes need time to grow as well.

At the beginning of every Sunday School year, as you commission SS teachers, have a covenant for them to sign in worship that would include some of these ideas:

 

  1. Be involved in corporate worship. You may think that this is a given, but there are teachers who come to teach and leave after Sunday School. What example are they setting for their class? How do they know what the pastor is sharing that may impact them? Have this in your covenant that they will be faithful to attend the worship service on a regular basis.

 

  1. Spend time daily with God. Teachers need time for their own spiritual growth and not just preparing a lesson. Encourage every teacher to have a daily time with God not tied to the lesson. God may reveal something to help them grow and move beyond just the lesson for Sunday.

 

  1. Encourage other times for them to be in Bible study. They need to hear other perspectives about a passage. I have seen this done in three ways. Come to Wednesday night Bible study where the pastor leads. Join a small group during the week. Have a teacher share a lesson on Wednesday nights just for teachers. Teachers need at least one Bible study to attend that they are not leading. Add it to the covenant.

 

  1. Encourage prayer partners for teachers. If teachers are willing, pair them up with another teacher to be praying for each other during the week.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17 NIV)

Praying for each other can lead to guidance beyond themselves.

 

  1. Encourage one training event per year. Training events can lead to spiritual epiphanies! I have never been to a training event where I didn’t learn something new about myself and what God can do! You can find three large training events coming up in August at: http://bgav.org/sundayschool/

We all need to grow. Encourage your teachers to keep growing. The class is only as strong as the teacher is.

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4 Ways Sunday School can Lead to Mentoring

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

Sunday School/Bible study groups provide the best way for us to grow in Christ, and be yoked with Christ. All of us face burdens/challenges in life. We need to recognize how another brother or sister in Christ can help us go further in our spiritual life. I want to suggest to you (though we are yoked with Christ in our relationship), we need another Christian to pray and encourage us for growth to take place.

Let me share an example. Often I hear people say (after a sermon), “God really spoke to me.” They have observed something that God is saying to them that leads to a possible change needed. To act upon that change, they need someone to encourage and pray for them on a regular basis. (Honestly, what I need to say is, “What is God saying to you? What do you need to change? How can I be praying for you about it?” (Since I am often not at my home church and cannot possibly follow up, what they need is someone in their church to be there for them!)

To be yoked is to recognize the need for another (more mature Christian) to walk alongside for encouragement and prayer. We need someone to pray for us, ask good questions and help us flesh out what God is asking us to do.  Jesus was talking about oxen and being yoked. Often they would pair a mature disciplined Ox with a younger undisciplined ox. We need a mature Christian to walk alongside us. Here are some suggestions:

 1. Develop prayer partners in your class. Encourage each person to find a prayer partner who goes beyond the Sunday morning class. Perhaps they will talk by phone, get together for a meal or find other ways to communicate during the week. On average you have about thirty minutes in Sunday School to hear the Word of God and apply it to life. It is impossible to see life-changing transformation in that time. Another time during the week to flesh it out is imperative.    

 2. Partner with another class of mature Christians. Suggest to an older class that we need mature Christians to mentor new or young adult Christians. I have seen this done in many ways. You may want to start by having a young adult class visit with an older class. Have the older class share about their commitment to the Church and Christ and how that is fleshed out day to day. Have the mature class come visit the younger class and hear their dreams and aspirations, and get excited about the future.

The millennial generation wants someone older to mentor them. They are looking for skills they don’t have. This is an opportunity to walk alongside, and teach them as well as get a glimpse of their passion for Christ.

3. Have a joint mission project. As I have shared in the past, every Sunday School/Bible study class should have an ongoing mission project. Providing an opportunity for two classes to work together may lead to a more natural way of providing prayer partners and spark passion for both classes.

4. Mentor around skills you offer for other people. Use your skills in your vocation or hobbies to mentor others.

a. If you are a mechanic, have a car maintenance day to help others know how to do                    the basics. (Take on a high school student, who wants to be a mechanic, as an                          intern.)

b. If you are a hair stylist, set up a day to give free haircuts and mentor students                          who want to learn.

 The list around job skills and hobbies are endless! Using things you are interested in makes it easier to mentor. As you do so, you can help another on the Christian journey.

The bottom line is we need each other to grow in Christ. Who are you yoked with?

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4 Ways to Increase Communication Skills in your Teaching

 

The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction. (Proverbs 16:23 NIV)

We communicate in many ways as we teach. Here are four ideas to help you in the process:

  1. The way you say it matters! Based on inflection and volume, you communicate different ideas and emotions. If your volume is raised, some will think you are angry or passionate about this truth. If your volume is low, they make think you are timid, reflective or having a moment of vulnerability. All can be important if used at the right time. A monotone voice will suggest you are not passionate. Change the volume for the situation as you teach.

 

  1. The “Why” Behind What you say Matters! Do they experience your passion and emotion as you share? Check out this video to get a glimpse of how your “Why”- context matters: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=michael+jr+amazing+grace&view=detail&mid=E95A885D6C9F09E94C1DE95A885D6C9F09E94C1D&FORM=VIRE

 

  1. Your Body Language Matters! What does standing behind a podium say? You are the teacher and the expert. What does sitting in a circle say? We are all studying God’s Word together. You can learn from the class as well. If arms are folded and legs are folded, what is a person saying? I am not interested, or don’t want to talk about this subject. If they are leaning forward or showing emotion, they are engaged.

 

  1. Dialogue Matters! If you lecture only, persons will remember 5% of what you say. If there is a dialogue, they will remember 50%. (E-mail me at brooks@bgav.org, and I will send learning retention levels.) Discussion is better. Self-learning is best.

I look forward to seeing your responses as you communicate in different ways!

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It’s More than Just the Kids!!

Many years ago while attending seminary I was fortunate to be in a class that focused on youth ministry. The professor caught my attention the first day when he said that if you are taking the class to be a “pastor in waiting”, get out! The man truly saw the need of ministering to youth and not just using the position as a way up the ministerial ladder.  After being under his tutelage, I have adopted his concept for not only youth but for both preschool and children’s ministry. I just have adopted it to meet that particular age group. These principles are true today just as they were back then.

The role of ministering to preschoolers and children takes on three points to a triangle. The most important work we do is with the children. That is why we have been sent to serve them. They are the apex of it all. We are there to help mold them in God’s image.

But the two other corners to the triangle are just as vital. Many church leaders overlook them in the haste to meet the needs of the children. Any oversight in these other areas will greatly affect the ministry to your children.

The first angle is that of the role of parents or guardians. These are the most influential adults in a child’s life. If we do not spend any time supporting them and encouraging them, we miss out on an unfilled ministry to not only the child but to the whole family. What are you doing to strengthen their home environment? How can you reach out to these adults?

The last but not the least corner is that of the adults in your church who minister to these children. They are giving of their valuable time to make a difference in the lives of these young people. These volunteers need to know you have their support. Are you meeting regularly to share concerns about them as well as the children? Have you lined up any training opportunities to enhance their roles as leaders in the children’s ministry? What are the ways you are saying “thank you” to them for their tireless efforts? Any good worker needs to feel that their efforts are noticed and appreciated by the church.

When your church decides to reach and teach preschoolers and children for the Kingdom’s work, be sure to get all the angles right. The stronger each area is the stronger the whole becomes.

Our guest writer this week is Steve Zimmerman. Steve (lives in Danville) is the founding partner of the Barnabas Partnership. 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 www.barnabaspartnership.com.

 

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Four Transformative Benefits of Training for SS/Small Group Teachers

II Timothy 2:15 says: Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (NIV)

Teachers/Disciples must continue to learn. There is nothing more frustrating and disappointing than to hear someone say, “I have learned all I want to learn.” As long as there is breath, we continue to learn and allow God to shape us (See Jeremiah 18.)
Today I want to encourage you to seek teacher training on a regular basis. If you are a public school teacher, lawyer, doctor, nurse or other professional, you are expected to experience continued education/learning every year. We have a bigger responsibility than all of the above as Sunday School/Bible study teachers. We are asked to facilitate a discussion of God’s Word (alive and transforming.)
Here are four benefits of training on a regular basis:

1. We always need a reminder of the “why.” Sunday School from its inception was a missionary and disciple-making endeavor. Over time with our busy schedules, we- as teachers, can become complacent. We can see teaching as just another duty or service. We need reminders that Sunday School/Small Groups are a life changing and transformative experience.

Transformation is essential. James 1:22 reads, Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (NIV) We need to be reminded that Bible study is not just about knowing the Bible, but living accordingly. How do we teach for life transformation?

2. We discover new ways of teaching and new resources. At every training conference I have attended over the years, I could always find new teaching ideas: curriculum, learning style approaches, outreach ideas, ways to care for class members, and wonderful anecdotes to use with my class. One or two ideas, which can be implemented in your class, makes it worthwhile.

3. We receive encouragement as we meet new teachers and share with each other. Sometimes as a youth teacher, I felt isolated at church. I was the only youth teacher, and faced joys and frustrations with no one to really get where I was.

Proverbs 27:17 reads, As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (NIV) When I attended conferences for Youth teachers, I met others who faced similar struggles and joys. We could stay in touch and continue to encourage each other!! Training leads to new relationships with other teachers.

4. Training Rekindles our Calling. Teachers are missionaries and disciple makers. We sometimes put this calling on the back burner, and need to be reminded. Allow the Spirit to fan the flame within you as you seek training. You will come back with a renewed sense of purpose and calling.

You can find three large training events coming up in August at: http://bgav.org/sundayschool/ Come join us and see the benefits.

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