Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sharing Struggles - How to Teach the Bible Better Pt.5

One of the biggest difference in teaching the Bible verses teaching anything else is that the Bible is not simply a collection of historical facts but rather a narrative of salvation that invites us to both participate and be transformed.  One of the greatest temptations that is faced by anyone in the teaching ministry is that of simply conveying facts, doctrine, and theology apart from personalizing the truth in one's own journey.  The people who hear the messages we bring each week don't simply need to hear truth but to hear of how we have struggled and wrestled with the truth ourselves.  To hear of how we have found victory as well as how we have missed the mark in our own journey.

For most of my first decade as a Christian I rarely ever heard any pastors admit their struggles from the platform.  So I walked out of the shiny happy church gathering on Sundays thinking that I must be one of the only people struggling on the inside.  The truth of a transformed life seemed very illusive in part to the lack of being able to see the process behind the scenes.  I was listening weekly to pastors telling me what I should do with my life but rarely ever hearing of how they struggled with following Jesus in their own lives.  The reality is that every Christian struggles with faith and sin and working out their salvation but if this struggle is never mentioned it will make the very message we teach seem either theoretical or unattainable except for spiritual giants.

One of the greatest lessons I learned about speaking came from my time at the Kenner Vineyard.  Phil Jeansonne, the senior pastor, made a point to share his own struggles within the delivery of each weekly message.  I found that this was one if the biggest ways that the messages connected with myself and others because Phil wasn't portraying himself as someone who had it all together and had mastered spirituality but rather as someone who was struggling to work out his faith as much as anyone else in the room.  In fact when I first began to speak occasionally at the Kenner Vineyard, Phil would always make sure that I would share from my own personal wrestling with whatever was being covered that week.  I thank God for this part of my journey towards learning to teach better as it has truly helped me to connect with folks at various stages of faith.

I think many pastors want to be known as people of unwavering faith who pray all the time and never lack joy or peace or clarity on anything but that kind of thinking has more to do with ego and insecurity than wanting to connect people to God.  I am thankful that the New Testament is filled with stories of Christ followers who had all kinds of struggles in their journey towards Jesus and the kingdom.  Stories of men of God such as Peter who experienced great heights with God and amazing lows gives me hope that God can continue to form me into a "rock"no matter how much I fumble in my own journey.  The same can be said of our preaching and teaching.  If we never let people in to our own struggles with anger, lust, ego, jealousy, we will just be placed on a pedestal and are only setting up people for real disappointment when they realize that we are in fact human and still mess up as we follow Christ.  But when we share from our own struggles in the midst of teaching we are inviting people to journey after Christ from right where they are.  This doesn't negate the message of transformation, if anything it begins to crack the door of the heart open so people can truly experience truth and freedom.

How have you benefited from preachers and teachers who share from their own struggles as they teach?

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Charles Young said...

Hi chrispen...your message is so very heart felt,I'm not a pastor,but it does identify That for all of us who follow Jesus are at different levels of growth,maturity,wisdom,knowledge,discerment,understanding and insight and there are differnces in these for people.Yes,some matters spoken and displayed can go right over someone's head and for some at whatever insight level,it can penetrate the mind and heart for the better.People are struggling with their lives and for a pastor to reveal his own struggles past or present brings the person hearing to a place where they don't have to fear.I know for myself for a long time fear discourange me from moving out on the water with the Jesus,because thats where he is above all the waters and I have spoken with others about that,so when I began basically confessing and showing myself as we all are,things changed dramatically with the Holy Spirit in my life,it gives others a point to see that they aren't the only ones that have gone through a particular issue or is presently going through a struggle,so any way,Thanks for your teaching series,Merry Christmas and Happy New year to you and yours.....A'gape Charles Young

Dan Nitschke said...

This subject reminds me of that saying that you hear from time to time. "Never follow a pastor who doesn't walk with a limp."

I think that is how it goes, anyways I find if you get caught up in that trap of being someone your not, and role playing a holier person then your just a poser. To some degree we all want to put on our best in front of our peers, but being true ourselves and to others means we have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and that is hard to do.

The church is for the broken people of this world, and to add to that we are all broken and in need of a savior.

Thanks for the message.

greenturtle said...

I can't say I've ever had a pastor who admitted to their own current struggles.

They used to talk about their struggles BEFORE they got saved, indicating that once they got saved, they didn't have struggles anymore.

And I wish that were true. I wish all you had to do was "get saved" and you'd never have struggles again.

In fact they took it a step further:

I'm by nature a genuine and honest individual, so I tend to be truthful about what I'm struggling with at any particular time.

As a result, I was told by those same pastors (and echoed by my fellow church members), that I must not really be saved at all. For if I was, I wouldn't be having such problems.

I would go up for prayer every Sunday, only to be told that there was something terribly wrong with me-- otherwise I wouldn't need any prayer.

Some would even refuse to pray for me, because I was so far gone that God himself did not want anything to do with me.

Some said "don't touch me, because you have demonic spirits that will spill over into me."

I know now that the only difference between those people and myself, was that I chose not to lie about my struggles.

But, at the time, you can see what such messages from the so called "body of Christ" would do to a person.

And, for lack of a better description, that is fairly f**ked up.

Pi Man said...

This is one of your best blogs, Bro. And yes, I have benefited many times from hearing the very real and very personal struggles of a relatively new pastor. His name is Crispin Schroeder. 8^) Thank you for your openness, Crispin. It has really, really made a difference. And may I add, that Ronnie Boudreaux has made an enormous impact on me as well. His servant heart has done nothing but grow in the 4+ years I've had the pleasure to know him. Peace and Merry Christmas to you and your family. TA