Fuel for the Soul—Part Three
I had two interesting conversations this week. They covered two ends of the spectrum on what can be a polarizing subject.
Earlier this week I sat across from a millennial-aged believer who had questions about the Bible and Jesus. This weekend I talked with another believer in his late 40’s among a group of men. We were discussing whether or not another men’s Bible study was needed in our church.
The younger man showed great interest, but found resistance from other Christians when he questioned specific teachings. The other man seemed to prefer talk about life issues over Bible study and discussion. In which conversation would you be most engaged?
Here’s what I think
America has a surplus of biblical resources, literally. A Christian leader from a developing country (MOTROW) visiting a LifeWay Christian bookstore would be like a child entering a candy store.
So, back to my conversations, what do you think? Is there really a need for one more Bible study for men? Also, is there any place for preaching in our post-modern world?
I admit that I gravitate toward the younger man than the older, and here’s why. I came across a post this week that resonated with my heart—3 Ways You Can Be the Church for Millennials.
Those of us who have a grounding in God’s Word have a responsibility to mentor younger generations.
Preaching and teaching
This is the third part in a series of posts titled Fuel for the Soul. Last week, I started to look at Paul’s admonition to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:13, where we looked at public reading of Scripture. As I said last week, it is a lost art, in my opinion.
Here are a couple more links to check out—
One Year Bible Online AudioDaily Audio Bible
This week we’ll look at the place of preaching and teaching of the Bible as a means of nourishment for our soul, both personally and within the church. “...devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching” (1 Tim 4:13).
Before we dig into these, another point why these are important. The first verse provides some context, as do my two conversations this week—
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. (1 Tim 4:1)
Preaching and teaching can play an important part in keeping people from abandoning the faith.
What’s the difference?
Is there a difference between the two? Is preaching any different from teaching? Yes. Here’s a simple way to distinguish them.
Preaching is persuasive in nature, and aims to stir the heart to respond in some way to the message preached, to be moved to take action.Teaching is instructive and intended to provoke thought. The purpose of teaching is to explain the truth so it can be processed and internalized.
Both expressions of communication have various styles, depending on the training and personality of the person presenting the message. Most pastors do a little of both, but not everyone.
Some people are more predisposed to preaching and exhorting people. Others like to lay out the truth in a linear, systematic way.
The place of preaching
Preaching is what most people are exposed to in church services. Many pastors are trained through homiletics courses and develop certain styles of presentation. Of course, there are plenty of stereotypes from judgmental broadsides delivered by fiery preachers warning them to repent, to the eloquent pontification on a certain topic.
The typical American evangelical church features more toned down or conversational messages. There are three general styles commonly used—topical, textual, and expositional. Here’s a very brief and general description of these—
Topical messages are just that, focused on a topic, and often include several different Bible texts.Messages that use a certain text to launch from to discuss a topic or theme are textual.Expositional messages are tied to a specific Bible text of varying lengths. These focus on bringing the truth out of the text in a persuasive manner.
Did Jesus preach? He did! We see Him preach in public and in the temple area throughout the gospels.
One thing He did that may not seem like preaching is telling parables, stories with a simple truth. We can find seven parables in Matthew Chap 13, and three related parables in Luke 15.
He spoke these to stir the hearts of the people, as well as their minds. Did it work? Most definitely, as we see by the reaction of both the crowds and the Jewish leaders (Matt 21:45-46).
Biblical storying is a natural way to preach, and is very effective because stories engage our hearts, not just our minds. I’ve found biblical storying quite effective as a prelude to preaching, rather than just reading a text. I’ll include an audio clip below this post as an example.
The usefulness of teaching
When it comes to teaching, Bible study comes to mind. There are many different styles and approaches to teaching the Bible.
A common way the Bible is taught in churches is what I call the “stand and deliver” approach. One person, the teacher, delivers their teaching in a linear, one-way conversational manner.
Often this becomes an information dump of biblical knowledge. Does this engage people well? Perhaps if it’s short, but not if it goes on and on. Why? Because there’s no dialog, no opportunity for people to ask questions when things aren’t clear to them.
Is there a better way? I think so. Questions can be used, as long as they are genuine inquiries, not just posed for straw man arguments. Then the teaching needs to clearly answer those questions.
This is more of a socratic teaching approach. It also helps to be willing to answer questions after the teaching is finished.
My preferred way is using this socratic method in an interactive discussion with those gathered to learn. It’s how I lead the three Bible studies I’m involved with each week. It’s also how I taught in our Bible school in the Philippines.
What is your preferred way to nourish your soul with the truth of God?
Have you had a memorable experience with preaching or teaching that blessed you?