Articles on this page: Be A Good Bible Study Chef; Creativity: It’s in the Hands of the Creator
Be A Good Bible Study Chef
Perhaps like me, you have been to restaurants with highly paid chefs and high priced menus. I have had the experience a couple of times. After the initial shock of the prices (if there are prices listed), you place your order. Some time later the meal is delivered and you look at the plate set before you trying to decide if it is truly what you ordered. The second question is, “Is this all or just the appetizer? I eat more than this for a bedtime snack.” Someone at the table invariably comments, “Well, it looks neat, (pretty). Let’s see how it tastes.” The fine dining experience, is not always what we hope for or desire.
You can watch the gourmet chefs on TV prepare their dishes. You will notice a lot of time is spent on the presentation of the dish. The chef is concerned with how the customer is “wowed” by the looks of the dish when it is first set before him/her.
Presentation is great. However, when a meal is set before me, I want to know that it is something I can eat, and later not regret having eaten this meal. I have seen certain chefs come out of the kitchen to the tables of the restaurant and inquire of the customers dining experience. This is good follow-up. This chef is not looking for what the customer thinks of the presentation. He/she wants to know, “Did this give you something to satisfy your appetite? Were you able to eat it?” At this point he knows it is not about a pretty presentation. It is about fulfilling the hunger or thirst of the customer. If it did, chances are they will return for more, and they will tell others about it as well, inviting their friends to try this restaurant.
There are some interesting similarities between the church and this type of restaurant. You, our Bible study teachers, are our chefs.
We prepare what we believe to be a good or at least a decent lesson, and we enter the classroom prepared to “wow” our listeners with our presentation. I applaud you and thank God for the time you put in to your lesson each week. Presentation is important. The presentation of your lesson and the class room experience is like the presentation and service at a restaurant. If the presentation is not up to the expectations of the listener (customer), they may not return.
However, presentation isn’t everything and it’s not the main thing. Just as in the restaurant we need to know that we are filling the hunger and thirst of our customer – our listener/learner. How do we ensure we are giving them something to satisfy their spiritual hunger? As in the restaurant, it is dependent on our preparation of what we will be serving on Sunday morning.
A good chef does several things to assure proper preparation. Chefs attend training. Like most professions, chefs attend training schools on a recurring basis. They know to remain on the cutting edge of culinary arts requires keeping abreast of new dishes, preparation methods, and techniques.
The same is true with the church. As teachers, we should do no less than the chef. We owe it to our listeners, our church, ourselves and especially to our God! Training never hurts. It only enables us to fully utilize what God has given us. Training helps us relate to our listeners assisting them to become better learners.
The second thing a good chef does is research. Chefs are always looking for ways to improve what they are doing. They read and discuss with other chefs and try dishes from other restaurants.
In teaching, we can apply the same principles. We need to study – to read articles and books about our spiritual calling. Each teacher should talk with other teachers – not only your buddy. Talk to teachers from other departments and other churches. One good way to interact with other teachers is by attending monthly meetings and other local and national training conferences. The networking of individuals at these workshops and conferences can be as helpful as the conference itself. The upcoming CLT is great place for top training and networking with your peers (teachers).
One of the most important things a good chef does is listen. He listens to his peers and those who have been successful in his profession. As important as these are, a good chef knows he must also listen to his customers. This is the follow-up he does both in and out of the restaurant.
As teachers we must do the same. Follow-up is important. It requires time. A good chef knows that a few minutes out of the kitchen visiting the tables will pay big benefits. At schools, training, and through research we can learn the “how to’s,” but it is at the tables where we can see the effect on the lives we serve. Do you do table follow-up? How often do you talk candidly with different learners throughout the week to see how Bible study is changing their lives?
Do all you can to be the best Bible study chef your class members have ever known. Teach to change lives! Teach to Bear Fruit!
Creativity: It’s in the Hands of the Creator
I sometimes have people refer to me as creative. Often they will make statements like, “I could never be as creative as you”, or “How do you come up with all of those creative ideas?”
The truth is, I am no more creative than the next person. Most of my ideas and “creative” works are variations of something I have seen, read about, or experienced in another venue.
I have learned over the years to become a student of creativity. In order to encourage creativity, I have studied creativity. How it works, what it is. Why some people seem to be more creative than others.
Thom and Joani Schultz of Group Publishing say, “Many people mistakenly believe that, ‘creative people’ come up with new ideas out of thin air. In actuality that rarely happens. Outside of God, creativity does not happen in a vaccuum. We humans do not create new ‘stuff’ out of thin air. Creativity is less like the big-bang theory and more like selecting clothes from your closet.”
In the late 1970’s the British rock group “Who” released a song with the words, “Every thought that’s in my head, Every word that I have said, has been said before.” I do not remember the name of the song, but I do remember those words impacting my life. I can think of nothing new. I cannot create anything from nothing. To be creative I must reformulate the ideas and materials that already exist.
My point is anyone can be creative. You need only to look around you and be willing to reassemble what you see into a new pattern.
Study how the Master Teacher, Jesus, taught. He used the things that were relevant to the people of His day. He used things as seeds, grain, fish, figs, and boats. He was creative with His teaching methods. Whether in the temple, the house of a friend, or walking down the road, Jesus always used the objects and illustrations at hand to teach the truths of scripture.
What are the seeds, grain, and fish for your learners today? They are computers, food prices, car keys, and McDonalds. Jesus used objects that were relevant in the lives of His listeners. We must learn to do the same. They are all around you. The question is are we walking around with open minds and a willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to show us the right objects to use in our Bible study lessons.
Can we use the same scripture to teach a similar lesson to adults, youth, children and preschoolers alike? We sure can. The objects and delivery of the lesson may need to vary for the different learning styles and needs. Yet, all scripture is given for the Christian to be made complete and equipped.
In other words the truths of scripture are relevant to people of all ages and all walks of life. It is our duty as teachers to bring the relevancy of those truths to applicable practices in their lives.
Be a student of creativity! What will help put this weeks scripture in perspective for your learners lives? What can you give them this Sunday morning that will enable them to put into practice scriptural truth this week? Let us see that our listeners are carrying home a lesson learned (the truths of the scripture) and not only the facts of the scripture studied. Facts do not change lives. Application changes lives.
Creativity in action. Taking what we already know and reassembling it into fresh configurations. Unleash your God-given creativity today and everyday! This is Teaching That Bears Fruit.