So we don’t want people to feel guilty at church – does that mean we don’t ask them to do anything or not rebuke them for laziness? How can we encourage people to grow and serve without inducing guilt and without going back to rely on their own strength? How can people have real thankfulness that drives and motivates them to serve?
One of the things that has helped me a lot in this area is when I was studying a preaching subject and we went through Bryan Chapell’s ‘Christ-Centred Preaching’. In fact, we were blessed enough to hear him in person. I find a lot of what he says can be applied to teaching in general. I’d like to share it with you.
Firstly, how do we know our teaching/preaching are “man-centred”. Are any of our messages of the following? Chappell calls these “the Deadly Be’s”
- Be Like (follow this example – Daniel, Moses, David, Jesus, etc.)
- Be Good (save yourself – don’t drink/smoke, try harder!)
- Be Disciplined (sanctify yourself – pray more, read Bible more, go to church more, etc)
He says these imply WE are able to change our condition. But you may ask, isn’t that what a lot of the Bible says? It does encourage us to be like someone/good/disciplined?
However, “these ‘Be’ messages aren’t wrong in and of themselves, but they are wrong messages BY themselves.”
And we see the Bible does this. In the Epistles, you can see that the first couple of chapters are always about what God has done. Then in the middle somewhere, there’s usually this massive ‘THEREFORE’ and it shows that in light of God’s grace, we are to live accordingly. In any passage of scripture we teach, we can look for these two things:
1. We recognise ‘our need’
What is it that is a result of the fall that means we need God. In any passage you read, there is something that it says about us as humans that needs God’s grace from the passage. For e.g. it might be that we grumble, are lazy, we are idolaters but also things that may not be sin like we need comfort or we are sick.
2. We recognise Christ’s work (not ours) in the situation meeting the need (Grace)
- Sometimes the TEXT explicitly mentions Christ’s work
- Sometimes it is a TYPE representing Christ’s work (Moses, Joseph etc.)
- Sometimes it’s the CONTEXT in a passage:
– Predicting Christ’s work (prophecies)
– Preparatory of Christ’s work (law, temple, sacrifices etc)
– Reflective of Christ’s work (God’s gracious character)
– Resultant of Christ’s work (prayer and access to God)
(this is so super summarised – I’m sure many books on ‘Grace’ will help in this greatly if you wish to explore further)
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” (Titus 2:11-12)
If we can get a good grasp of this and teach this well, I believe it will compel us and those we minister to to serve and act on our faith. We are reminded that we can’t do this in our own strength because of our fallen nature, it encourages us to fully rely on Him. The Bible does command us to do things, but it is always in the context of what Christ has already done 🙂
Does our teaching and encouragement ultimately centre around grace? Again, we recognise our inability to change so we ask for God’s help as we seek to show His grace to people’s lives.
P.S. In my next series of posts, I’m going to be putting together collections resources for Christian women with some brief reviews and things. If you’d like to contribute – please leave a comment (or just contact me) with what book/blog/studies you’ve done and a sentence on how it was helpful/not helpful. If it sounds good I might contact you for more info 🙂