teaching the Word

I’ve missed solid Bible teaching, both hearing it and teaching. It’s funny how I feel more enseñada (accustomed, at home) here in Loja city than in Gonzanamá, and I’m generally content with how things are going with my ministry (in spite of frustrations I know are a natural part of being in ministry) – but this element has been a little lacking.

Out in the province, I was leading a weekly youth Bible study, and and we had a weekly church Bible study in addition to the Sunday sermon. Three sessions a week. Since I moved to the city, Sunday sermons have been long and fluffy, and I only had occasional Bible study at SIM team meetings – until recently.

A few weeks ago, we started studying Romans with the weekly youth leaders discipleship group. I’m encouraged because they were the ones who’d been asking for more Bible teaching from us, and they’re eager to learn. It also gives the pastors JL and K the chance to teach what they’ve learned in the Bible training course SIM is running for Loja’s pastors and church leaders.

I’ve also had the chance to preach twice at youth group now. And I’ve realised I have a lot to learn!

Not so much in terms of Bible knowledge. I was told that by having been through Sunday School in Australia, without any formal training I already know more than 90% of pastors here; and I can see how that could be true.

My presentation could be better. Quite aside from more time to practice and deliver more smoothly, I am sadly not naturally engaging in oratory, the way I can be presenting the same message in writing (or in conversation).

Perhaps that’s part of the problem. I prepare my sermons the same way I write an essay, and I got pretty good at that after 6.5 years in uni! Introduction, three key points, conclusion.

I have realised that is overload here. Too much information. Too abstract.

None of these young people have a Sunday School background. Only one university-aged girl could tell me who Abraham, Jonah and Sarah were.

The education system here is based on rote learning, absorbing via repetition. University taught me not to be repetitive, to make every word I write count.

People here respond better to emotion and real examples. I like structure, various points that all contribute to an overarching argument.

So I am praying for more opportunities to share the Word. Because I love it, and I love teaching from it. But I need to pray for discernment and creativity in doing so, because the methods that worked for me personally don’t seem to fly here.

I have been thinking about how we can do Bible teaching via interactive storytelling. I have been thinking about how imparting a small, basic theological idea can be extremely valuable in laying solid foundations for this fledgling youth ministry (see the goals I’ve set for church). It’s not a question of value-for-money, how much you can fit into the time you get given, but of penetration and durability, how deep it goes and how long it stays with the listeners.

Some timely reflections as I am about to begin Bible study next Monday night, with A, a young woman who wants to explore what life lessons the Bible has for her. Praise God for the opportunity, and pray that I would be directed by the Spirit, and not by my (learned) academic instincts!

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