Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Ok... so I'm a big fan of narrative teaching. I have taught a few series in my day in a narrative format with characters and such and they are always very memorable... and a lot of work.

My favorite one is the story of Jesus and the passover that I did as a sermon back in Nor. Cal. after a trip to Israel. That trip radically changed the way I viewed Jesus last week of his life for me and inspired the story in me. I told an Easter message from the fictitious perspective of the son of the owner of the upper room. People still talk to me about that sermon. God was all over it and my pastor told me I should take it on the road.

I think I love narrative teaching because it really sticks and helps people to keep a message, so much better than a series of points. This is probably why I tell so many stories in my sermons too. I love a good story.

Well, to that end, I'm trying something in our guys groups that was introduced to me a while back through Youth Specialties and the YS One Day material I taught last spring. (You can find it on this website and in this book.) It's a series of stories.... 21 in all, that walk you through the OT and NT to give students a sense of the common threads, themes, and proper order to the key stories in the Scriptures.

I took a risk and we kicked it off at our fall retreat with the guys in the desert and 4 discussions. I decided that if it was a success, I'd keep going. If it bombed, I'd scrap it. Well, It was a HUGE success!

Here's how it worked:

  1. We review the memory tool, main point, and any critical details of each of the previous stories.
  2. I then set the scene and encourage them to get ready to really listen.
  3. I read the story out loud, as dramatically as I know how.
  4. I ask one question: "what did you hear?"... and the students re-tell the story back to me. I ask them to try and stay in order and to share one piece at a time, not going farther in the Bible Story beyond this story... even if they know more of the "rest of the story".
  5. We make observations along the way.
  6. In small groups we ask 2 questions: (1) What does this teach us about God. (2) So what... what difference does this make for your everyday life?
  7. Then we conclude by compiling our learnings into one bumper sticker statement we agree upon as a group. I also have been bringing a memory tool of some sort (the book suggests pictures, but we are using physical objects, and now we have added slide pics for our projectors too).
So now we have completed one week of small groups to build on our 4 stories from our retreat. Thus, every small group table has an old school ammo can on it that has 5 items inside: An artist brush, a broken chain link, a compass, a piece of duct tape, and a knife.

Here's why:

EPISODE ONE: the artist brush. (Genesis 1-2)

EPISODE TWO: the broken link (Genesis 2-3)

EPISODE THREE: the compass (Genesis 6-9, Noah is the only one going towards God)

EPISODE FOUR: the duct tape (Genesis 11-18)

EPISODE FIVE: the knife (Genesis 22)

It was great to be in the desert with our guys and have them truly be able to wrestle with scripture as men, like an old school oral synagogue midrash of the jewish culture. The result is that most can still tell me the 4 stories we discussed in the desert, the symbol, and the main points from memory. Now if it just gets from the head to their heart to their hands and feet.

Here's a pic of some of our younger men under a "chuppah" being prayed over by our older men after the Sunday Covenant message as these young men covenanted with God in the desert. Each of the posts is being held by a father of teens or older. The contrast of these generations and the decisions they are making is so critical in this fatherless generation. I love this pic of Greg praying with some younger guys in the background. I'm super blessed to play even a small roll in this kind of mentoring.



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San Diego, CA
Husband. Dad. Jesus Follower. Friend. Learner. Athlete. Soccer coach. Reader. Builder. Dreamer. Pastor. Communicator. Knucklehead.

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