Monday, June 30, 2014

Jesus' Teaching Methods

Recently I have been startled by studying the teaching methods of Jesus.  Why are they so different from what we typically think of when we say "teach"?  How would the message of Jesus have been subverted if His methods were more like ours? 

Commands.  These constantly brought His followers to a point of choice about whether they would continue to follow Him; they could not remain undecided.  Study the gospels to see how many times Jesus spoke commands!

Questions.  What are the benefits of using questions in teaching, and how did Jesus use them differently than Socrates?

Stories.  I find that stories stick in my mind much longer than prose, don't you?  And when I tell Bible stories during evangelism conversations, they form such a helpful framework around which to teach important truths!

Traveling.  Rather than establishing a school in one location, Jesus traveled widely to make it easier for many people to hear Him.  This also meant that the people who wanted to hear Him more had to... follow Him!  For more detail on this, go here.

Analogies, illustrations, similes, and metaphors.  If stories are like paintings, analogies are shafts of sunlight to illumine the subject.

Brevity.  The Sermon on the Mount is only 15 minutes long.

Difficulty.  Jesus was sometimes deliberately obfuscatory.

Shock talk.   Jesus wasn't joking--or putting anyone to sleep--when he talked of cutting off hands, swallowing camels, escaping hellfire, or giving everything to the poor. If you haven't noticed this, you have a log in your eye.

Tangible.  Why use a blackboard when you can touch a coin, a fig tree, a mustard seed, a child?

Authority.  The MacArthur Study Bible, commenting on Matthew 7:29, says "The scribes quoted others to establish the authority of their teachings; Jesus was his own authority".

Scripture References. Jesus may not have quoted humans, but He sure did quote or refer to the Scripture a lot, and rebuked people for their ignorance of it.  (See, for example, Mark 12:24.)

Repetition.  That's right, He said important things multiple times.  He didn't mind saying things more than once to make sure His listeners "got it".

Demonstration.  Jesus lived everything He taught.  I'll have to show you how this one works. 

Supervised delegation.  Go explain these methods to someone else (using your own words) and let me know how it goes!

In-the-moment.  This one would be better explained over lunch.  When can we get together?

What other methods can you identify in Jesus' teaching?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Don't Beat Around the Bush

This is a true story about the danger of assumptions.  So if you're going to read this, please read it all.  Don't assume that you know how this story will end!

The video and audio teachings by Todd Friel and the team at Wretched have been a great blessing to me.  I thought I would make a donation to help further their ministry.

Then I learned that they are a for-profit company so donations are not deductible.  That didn't bother me too much.  I can see how being non-profit could hinder their effectiveness.

The name of the parent company behind Wretched is Burning Bush Communications.  A quick Google search showed me that a man named Chuck Bush owns Burning Bush Communications.  According to the Wikipedia article, Chuck Bush seems to be a wealthy financier behind various film and TV products, focusing currently on producing 'non-toxic' films and programs.  No indication that he's a Christian, just a shrewd businessman.

That turned me off.  Not to Wretched, but to the idea of donating.  I didn't like the idea of giving money to help some rich guy who was using Wretched as part of his 'non-toxic' media portfolio.  And I found it puzzling that a brother as seemingly conscientious as Todd Friel would be a financial bedfellow with someone like Chuck Bush.

Months went by and finally I decided to email Wretched and ask about this.  I was afraid they would be offended and write back to say, "Why are you judging our motives?  Chuck Bush is a fine Christian man!"

Twelve minutes after I sent my email, Todd Friel wrote back from his iPhone. 
I don't have any idea who Chuck Bush is!

My best guess is that he might be related to George. Otherwise Chuck Bush has nothing to do w us.
It turns out that there are two Burning Bush Communications that are completely unrelated.  They both happen to be involved in producing video-based programming.  But that's where the connection ends.

I sent Wretched a donation immediately.

I wonder how many other wrong assumptions I have made about people?  It's better to ask the difficult questions than go on in assumed estrangement.