Welcome to the fourth blog entry of New Direction, where we search the Spirit, Scripture and more discovering the New Direction God is leading his church in this post modern culture. Today, we take a quick look at Reading the Bible as a Narrative.
If you walk into a typical church these days and listen to a pastor preach, you will likely jump in the middle of a “sermon series.” This generally involved the pastor taking a book of the Bible, verse by verse, spending an entire 45 minute speech going into his take on a few of the verses in that book. Because this approach covers only a few verses, it typically takes pastors months, or longer, to go through one of the sixty six books of the Bible.
Imagine if as an art teacher, I take a group of students to study the Mona Lisa on display in the museum. When we arrive, however, I have the entire picture covered with a sheet. Then, I take some scissors, and I cut out a tiny square so we can see part of her nose. I then spend 10 weeks discussing all of the techniques that Leonardo da Vinci mastered to learn how to pain that nostril so well. You can bet that not only would my students get bored, they would not learn a whole lot. Essentially, I put the cart before the horse.
With new believers, we should always strive to have them read the entire Bible first. Now, as I mentioned an earlier entry, understanding the gospel is key. We must preach the gospel those who have yet to submit their will to God. If they accept that, we have a tendency to immediately teach them doctrine, and lots of it. As I mentioned in our last episode, doctrine plays an important role in equipping the saints. However, unlike the gospel, we do not require unity in all points in order to share fellowship and call each other brother.
We also need to recognize that a challenge with our current approach has to do with the fact that a post modern generation does not respond well to prolonged, instructional teaching. They connect best with stories, and lives lived out in front of their eyes. Interestingly enough, the Bible delivers that, in spades. In fact, while the Bible has depths of wisdom that modernists may spend eternity searching for, it immediately appeals to the post-modernist, showing story after story of sinners who defy God, and others who follow Him. Reading through the book of Genesis, for example, you have over a half dozen stories of men with numerous short comings, but one thing in common – a faith in God.
While parts of the Bible prove difficult for even the most educated follower, the entire book, written by 40 different authors, has several overarching plots and threads. When anyone (especially a post modernist) read and discover such threads on their own, the lessons taught hold much more meaning than if someone simply delivered them through a monologue.
Neil Cole offers two simple tools for engaging with people today. First, mostly for the unsaved seeker, he proposes taking them through the book of John. Specifically, you and your friend review the seven miracles mentioned there, and ask …
- What does this story say to you about people?
2. What does this story say to you about Jesus?
3. What does this story have to say about you?
4. Who needs to hear this story?
The second tool is called an LTG, or Life Transformation Group. You form these with one or two other believers. One of the fundamental activities you would engage in would be to read a book of the Bible each week and have a discussion about it. The Bible points out that we can learn from each other, and therefore, even a seasoned vet might learn from the insights of a new, young believer.
You can find out more about these at CMA Resources: Link 1, Link 2 . If you would like someone to join you in either exercise, and you know of no one in your local area, feel free to reach out to me. I would happily join you on your so we can learn, together.
Regardless, I believe that approaches, like what I just described, would go a lot further to reach and educate a post-modern culture than the typical approach of taking just a few scriptures and spending months expanding on them via a monologue. While such approaches do have merit, a different approach for a different generation will yield much better results. Numerous churches recognize the benefits of expedited Bible studies and smaller group fellowships by offering such gatherings through their programs.
My challenge to you, today, if you have not read the Bible before, do so! Pray that He will reveal His will to you through His Word and dive in. This is how I came to know God. For those who have not done so before, I recommend the book of John and Romans first and second. If you struggle with some of the books, or chapters, do not worry. We all do. That is part of the journey. Remember, no one has all of the answers, but God.
Thank you so much for watching. I would love to hear from you. You can email me at jcservant at cyberlightcomics.com. You can follow me on twitter @jcservant . You can, of course, write comments and questions right here. Until next time, may God bless you.