Posted on December 1, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
I saw a funny church cartoon once that had a tall man and a shorter man walking down the church hallway.  The tall man’s caption read, “Just once I’d like to see this church elect deacons by height!”  Obviously, church leaders are not elected by height or any other physical appearance for that matter.  Church leaders are not selected based on income or notoriety or any of the things we often associate with leaders in the world.  Jesus taught us that His kingdom leaders should have a servant’s heart, not an attitude of superiority.  That being the case, how do church leaders influence others to follow their leadership?  Here are a few more thoughts to consider.
Church leaders influence through relationships.  I’ve made a discovery in ministry—enlisting people to serve from the pulpit is pretty much a waste of time.  Announcing a need for more ministry workers during announcement time just doesn't work.  People need a personal contact to see the need, see who they are working with and catch the vision.  They have questions that cannot be answered from the pulpit, anyway.  They need a face-to-face conversation.  People want to feel valued as a part of a ministry team and how we enlist them is critical.  In addition, they continue to serve as they sense a comradery and connection with the leader.  To deepen those relationships, we need to learn what inspires a person and what burdens him.  We need to pursue a little deeper relationship with the people we lead.
It is important for us to value people over rules.  As a church grows larger, good structure and effective systems are critical.  The challenge to keep everyone going the same direction is real—Christians tend to get sidetracked easily.  At the end of the day, the church is still in the people business.  Years ago, my wife and I attended a big minister’s conference in a huge church.  The church provided childcare, so we dropped off our two preschool boys.  I politely asked if they could stay together since they were quite close in age and we knew that it would be best for them and the workers.  I was promptly told that they had to be separated and if I didn’t like it, I would have to take it up with the senior pastor of the church.  I tried to explain the reasons for my request, but the rule had to stand.  I think we were offended more by the attitude of the leader than the rule itself.  If I had been a prospect for that church, I would have never returned.  
People are inclined to follow leaders of character and competency.  In Psalm 33 worshipers are told to praise God from an upright heart and they are told to play skillfully.  Character and competency are both necessary when leading worship.  The same can be said of other areas of ministry.  Consider the church leaders who have greatly influenced your life.  These key influencers had character, but they also had people skills, communication skills and an understanding of the Bible.  This is why church leaders need to become lifelong learners.  We need to continue to grow—even in those areas we feel we are most competent.  It is why teachers attend teaching conferences.  It is why schools and hospitals have in-service training days.  A sharp ax can chop more wood than a dull one.  When the leader is not skilled at what she does, it creates tension and frustration, but if she lacks character, it is even worse.
Christians leadership is quite different than the world’s style of leadership.  Sure, there are concepts that can apply to a church or ministry as well as a business, but Jesus clearly instructed us that His kingdom is led differently than the world’s.  In fact, we might be better off to take our organizational charts and turn them upside down!
Dave Frasure is CABA's Leadership Catalyst and pastors First Baptist So. Lebanon, Oh.
Posted on November 28, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
One day Jesus was dealing with a couple of ambitious disciples who wanted to be at the top of the leadership ladder.  They boldly requested special positions in His kingdom.  The other disciples were no displeased as they watched to see how Jesus would respond to such a request.  Jesus’ response was inspired, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45 NKJV)
Jesus established an important fact in His statement about kingdom leadership.  Church leadership is much different than the leadership of the world.  Instead of “lording” our leadership over others, we are to be servant leaders.  A bossy, harsh church leader is a contradiction of terms.  In the 1990’s movie, The Preacher’s Wife, a domineering choir director decided to strongarm the church choir.  As a result, she ended up losing most of the choir members.  She came to the preacher to complain about the lack of commitment on the part of the people she was trying to lead.  Of course, the real problem was the style of leadership she was using.  She learned the hard way that church leadership is not the same as the world’s style of leadership.
Church leaders reward those who follow them in the form of gratitude and encouragement.  I’m sometimes overwhelmed with the fact that I am required by God’s Word to encourage others (Hebrews 10:24-25).  I love to encourage others.  It is part of my spiritual gift of exhortation.  But how do you give encouragement to hundreds of people in a church on an individual basis?  I know it is a small thing, but to me a thoughtful, handwritten birthday card is one way I can encourage each person in our church at least once a year.  It is a simple way for a church leader to show gratitude and encouragement for those he or she leads.
I have found that casting a compelling vision is another way to lead people in a church setting.  I have pastored smaller churches in my ministry and I have faced the dilemma of inviting people to a church that did not yet have a strong children’s or youth program.  A smaller church cannot afford a youth or children’s minister.  It is hard to convince a parent to bring their kids to a church that cannot possibly provide all the bells and whistles of a larger, next-generation ministry.  I did find, however, that parents would respond to a vision for a strong ministry to their children.  They often decided to become members of that smaller church, motivated by the desire to be on the ground floor of building an exciting new ministry.
Church leaders can also motivate people through a sense of community.  That is often why people will say, “I like a smaller church.”  If we obey the Great Commission, however, there is a good chance the church will grow larger. 
As a church gets larger, there is a danger of becoming detached and impersonal.  That’s way a growing church must also “grow smaller” through a strong small-group or Sunday School ministry.  It’s where relationships are born.
There are no church bosses or CEOs.  Jesus is the only head of the church.  Pastors, deacons and other church leaders serve at His command and as we serve, we serve as servants—first to Him, and then to others.  It is an attitude that must go along with the authority of a church leader.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon, Oh.
Posted on November 24, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
One core value of our church's Sunday School ministry is reaching lost people.  Sometimes Sunday School teachers and classes can lose sight of this foundational principle.  It is easier to focus on member care, fellowship and teaching, and neglect reaching new people.  Some have said, “You worry about how deep your ministry is and God will take care of its breadth.”  That might get a few “amens” at a conference, but it really isn’t biblical or practical.  We cannot do the Great Commission without trying to reach new people.  In fact, we really aren’t loving our neighbor, if we neglect to invite them to receive Christ and become part of His kingdom.  Here are four fundamental reasons to keep outreach as a top priority of our Sunday School.

1. God commands it in His Word.  That should be enough motivation for any Christian. The Great Commission is found in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus' final command before He left earth included reaching people with the Gospel message. These "marching orders" are repeated in the other three gospels and in the book of Acts. The New Testament Church took the Great Commission very seriously and thus, evangelism became the priority mission of the church.

2. People cannot be discipled until they are first reached.  Discipleship is a function of Sunday School, but it must not become the mission of the Sunday School.  Christians need to grow deeper in the Lord, but have you ever asked yourself why?  What is the purpose of discipleship if it is not, at least in part, to equip believers to obey the Great Commission?  If a Christian is growing "deeper," yet with no real concern about the eternal destiny of the unreached people of the community and the world, is he or she really any closer to Jesus?  The closer we are to Him, the more obvious is our love for the lost.

3. It creates a healthy church focus.  When a local church begins to put too much focus on politics, or music style, or the building, or social reform, reaching people becomes a very casual activity.  Besides that, who wants to bring a lost neighbor to class, only to have the teacher blast anyone with a different political view or another viewpoint on gun control?  Certainly, Christians are to be "salt and light" and we need to be involved as patriots and engaged in public reform that aligns itself with Scripture.  Yet, to make any of these things the primary focus of the church will create an unhealthy environment with very limited evangelistic potential.  People need the Lord no matter their political stripes.  We see the Apostle Paul with an incredible burden for lost people in Romans 9:1-3.  Where is the Bible verse that shows the early church involved in excluding people because they are of another political party?  I’m pretty sure it isn’t there.

4. It is fulfilling for God's people.  Any church worth the bricks it is built with rejoices to see lost people come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  The salvation of souls is something only God can do, and when a church family sees people coming to Christ, it is evidence of God's work in their midst.  The Christians in such a congregation are encouraged and thrilled as new believers are added to the church.  Folks can’t wait to attend a church where people are being saved routinely.

I’d like to challenge each Sunday School leader to develop a prayer list of lost people that can be reached through the ministry of your class.  Maybe you could have a wall covered with post-it notes that have the first names of people the class is seeking to reach.  Let’s make it a true priority to contact these people, giving an invitation to attend your class and know your Savior.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors First Baptist So. Lebanon, Oh.
Posted on November 13, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
In October of this year we had the privilege of having LIfeWay Sunday School Consultant, Allan Taylor in our state.  Brother Taylor inspired and challenged us to take Sunday School back to its evangelistic roots and to use it as a primary tool to minister to people and disciple them in Christ.  The workshop was like taking a drink from a fire hydrant, but let me share a few big takeaways.

1. Sunday School works if we work it.  Far too many churches have their Sunday School on autopilot.  No one is leading the effort to start new classes, organize ministry, invite new people or enlist and train new workers.  Teachers too often come under-prepared and unenthusiastic about putting forth the effort to reach new people.  Without a willingness to work the Sunday School, its impact weakens, and it becomes ineffective.  The need is for leadership.

2. Sunday School is an effective strategy for church growth.  Growing churches have learned that growing the Sunday School will bring growth to other key areas of the church.  When the Sunday School grows, baptisms increase, giving increases and more people are involved in the worship service.  Churches can be very busy without going anywhere, but a growing Sunday School still brings the results we all pray for, if we use it as a deliberate strategy to reach and disciple people.

3. Starting new classes is essential.  Taylor outlined several ways to start new classes.  It seems we fear the concept of “splitting the class,” but churches are more open to other methods.  Sometimes a new member’s or pastor’s class can be developed into a new class.  A class may be started relationally by enlisting a teacher and her closest friends to be on mission through the Sunday School.  Some people can become trailblazers by seeing a need for a certain kind of class.  With a fist full of prospects, they seek to start a class where one never existed before.  Brother Taylor also spoke to starting new units based on a special topic or felt need, that could then be easily transitioned into a disciple-making class.

4. Sunday School classes must focus on making disciples who can make disciples.  Taylor offered several biblical disciplines of a real disciple of Christ and challenged us to deny our self-centeredness, stay in the Word and obey the Great Commission.  

5. Sunday School must become a leadership pipeline for the church.  New leaders must constantly be developed in a growing church.  As we enlist new leaders for ministries, we look to those growing, committed people who are already active in the Sunday School.  In fact, as we organize leaders within the class to do member care and evangelism, we are preparing leaders who may serve in other areas of the church.  Taylor insisted that each adult class needed an apprentice teacher who would one day take over the class or start a new one.

6. The Sunday School must be mobilized for the mission.  The Sunday School can put more people to work doing ministry than any other ministry in the church.  We generally want trained, “professional” pastors to preach the Word and provide the overall leadership of the church, but Sunday School is designed to be the ministry of the people.  It is God’s “stimulus plan” for pastors to equip the people so they can also do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12).

A growing, vital Sunday School translates into a healthy, mission-focused church.  It doesn’t just help the church to grow, it helps the church to boldly grow!
Dave Frasure is CABA's Leadership Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon, Oh.
Posted on November 2, 2017 10:00 AM by Josh Carter
Categories: Evangelism
Many churches do outreach events each Fall. If your community is like mine, Trunk-or-Treats and Harvest Festivals seemed to abound this year. But if your church is like mine, two things are equally true: 1) You don’t do these type of community events just because you like to. You do them with the hopes of engaging people with the gospel and seeing people come be a part of your church family. 2) Following up with guests from these types of events can be difficult at best. That being said, here are five ways you can see better results from your Fall outreach and other community events.

1) Be Intentionally Evangelistic. A lot of times we think we need to go soft on the gospel to attract people to our church. We might not even say this out loud, but we let our fear of offending people sway what we do at these type of events. In truth, I’d say this actually has the opposite effect of what we might be hoping to accomplish. These people have come to your church property. In general, they are expecting people to talk to them about faith and church related things. What happens when we aren’t direct is that they are constantly on guard about who is going to “hit them over the head” with some Christian ninja sneak attack. Being forward helps them put people at ease and opens up conversations throughout the night. We did this by stopping all games and activities each hour and doing a short welcome and gospel presentation from a central location. This went incredibly smooth and most people seemed to really enjoy the friendly welcome.

2) Invite Them Immediately. During the event we had several trunks that promoted other upcoming events going on at the church. As we handed out candy at these trunks we also handed out invitations to the families. Doing this gave us opportunity to let them know we were serious about continuing to minister to their families. An event can come off as a gimmick if you don’t show the families that you have a plan to continue to care for them.
3) Follow-Up Makes A Big Difference. Here is where most of us fail. The community event is over and we are off to the next thing on our calendar. If you do this, you are missing one of the greatest opportunities your church has to personally connect to the community. Here is how we did it: First, we registered almost everyone who came. Registration was required in order to have tickets for the free food we were providing. Each ticket was for a different food item. Not everyone registered, but a majority did. Second, we scanned the registration forms and sent them to a trusted data-entry company. That sounds like big bucks, it’s not! In fact, it might have been the best $20 we spent all year! We used  Invensis Global Outsourcing Services.  They compiled all our scanned contact information into a simple excel document within 48 hours. I was easily able to then forward the document on to church members who called the families, thanked them for coming, invited them to church, and asked how we could be praying for them. Families were blown away that we were thanking them for coming.
4) Follow-Up Again. Can this one really be overstated? In addition to phone calls, we also send out a “thank you” email. In the email we included a link to a short survey that asked about what we could do better, if we could add them to our emailing list, and how likely their family was to come to our church in the next few months. We received great advice and a lot of really positive feedback. In every follow-up we have asked if the family already has a church home. If the family responds that they do we then remove them from the next layer of contact. For those that don’t have a church home, we plan to send postcards in several weeks to advertise our Christmas sermon series and Christmas events. None of these ideas cost a lot or take a lot of man-power, but they do take intentional planning.
5) Be ready for guests. Over the next few weeks you will likely notice an increased number of guest visit your church. If you are not ready for them, they will leave as quickly as they came. Here is an article by Lifeway on how you can be ready: 7 Do’s and Don’ts of Welcoming Guest to Your Congregation.
None of these things are rocket-science. If they were I wouldn’t be able to do them. They also don’t cost very much and they don’t take very much time. Any church of any size ought to be able to put some if not all of these ideas into practice. As you do, pray that God would use your efforts to draw people to your church, to reach people with His gospel, and to build up His body.
Josh Carter is CABA's Leadership Catalyst and pastors Clough Pike Baptist in Cincinnati.
Posted on November 1, 2017 2:51 PM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Leadership
The Engage24 Workshop was conducted last month (October 2017) at Liberty Heights Baptist. One of the speakers was Ken Whitton who was mentored by the late Adrian Rogers at Bellevue Baptist in Memphis. Ken said, “The 100 most important members of your church are those who are not yet followers of Jesus.”

Intentional evangelism requires walking among new people – and the Cincinnati Area is full of them. Jesus said to Andrew and Simon, “I’ll make you fishers of men.” With one million people around here not claimed by any religious organization, the fishing is great!
Align with God to witness among those who you talk with, encounter in your routine, and give yourself permission to address. To really impact Cincinnati’s culture, we must begin to disciple our members to do different things, travel in different circles, and become intentional in their witness.
It's been said that a rut is a grave with the ends kicked out!
You hit the target where you aim—or at least get close. Ready-Aim-Fire is not a bad evangelism strategy. It beats Ready-Ready-Ready or even Fire-Aim-Ready!
I’m sure your church members are wearing you out whining about our societal ills and moral decay in our culture.
Yet, why do things rarely change in our churches? Why is it that church schedules don’t allow for stopping to do something to address spiritual transformation?
The new mission statement for CABA is a game-changers to go after lostness. We’re now budgeting, staffing, and providing help to pastors through networking, coaching, and church planting.
1.    Networks: Ten zones have been formed to help pastors have fellowship, encouragement, and support. Josh Carter is taking the lead.
2.    Coaching: Brad Cunningham, pastor, Liberty Heights, and Doug Sibcy, pastor, Impact, are taking the lead to provide coaching.
3.    Church Planting: I’m taking the lead to help churches multiply themselves through unfunded church planting using church members, bi-vocational pastors, and using multi-site methods.
Change for the sake of change is scary and dangerous. Bringing change that glorifies Jesus brings transformation to a pastor’s ministry and a church’s effectiveness. And let us never forget in the meantime, that it’s worth it because those 100 most important members of your church are still out there.
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership (DOM) for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association (CABA).
Posted on October 31, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
Once a pastor stepped out during the Sunday School hour for a breath of fresh air to find a teacher and her preschoolers class of running through the grass, holding paper streamers over their heads.  The teacher continued to shout, “God made the wind!  Boys and girls, God made the wind!”  There is a teacher who understands the need to illustrate a point in her Bible teaching.

No matter the age range of your class, there is an obvious need to illustrate the Bible truths you are teaching.  Illustrations are windows that allow your students to see into the truth you are trying to communicate.  We want our people to remember what we teach them.  They are much more likely to remember a story or object lesson, so teachers know they must illustrate!  Here are a few thoughts to consider.

The more of the five senses you can use in an illustration, the better.  Many people think of illustrations as stories a speaker uses to drive home a point.  Of course, a good story told by a good story teller can be very effective, but that method of illustrating only uses the sense of hearing.  Imagine how much more effective an illustration becomes when you use other senses.  You may use a visual to show the size of a mustard seed in relation to other seeds.  You could even drop one seed into the hands of your audience and allow them to see and feel it.  You might even find various pictures that could show the development of the mustard seed into a large plant.  As more of the senses are used, the more likely your point will be remembered.

One teacher actually lit up a small propane torch in class to illustrate to adults how words can be used to scorch and burn the lives of others.  You know he had their attention!  A youth teacher regularly video tapes himself in humorous roles or uses the “man on the street” approach of interviewing people to illustrate major points of the lesson.  Children’s teachers will frequently use various kinds of foods to illustrate a Bible truth such as heart-shaped cookies to illustrate love or fish-shaped crackers to remind the children of a particular Bible story.  One teacher used a spray bottle to simulate the sea mist while teaching.  Preschool teachers will select specific toys for the children or decorate the room in a certain way to help them illustrate a Bible thought.  The point is that an illustration can be so much more than a story or quote you found in a book.

The more fresh and creative the illustration is, the better.  Using a Shakespeare quote may be effective in some settings, but having the class use a lump of clay to form an object that is often related to a temptation, maybe better.  Reading an illustration out of an illustration book may be fine, but it might be better to offer the class copies of the local newspaper and then tell them to find stories that demonstrate moral failure.  Sharing what you heard a radio preacher say one time may communicate your point, but having the class-members act out a scene from the gospels might leave a greater impact, simply because it is more memorable.

The more you vary your illustrative methods, the better.  Use video one week and try drama the next.  Use case studies one Sunday and then try a craft project the next.  It doesn’t take long for a certain method to become dry and predictable.  The more you vary your approach to illustrating the Bible, the more likely the class is to remember what you are teaching.  It takes a lot of work to come up with good ways of illustrating God’s Word.  But remember that boredom is one of the greatest enemies of the Sunday School lesson, and illustrations are one of the most effective weapons against it. 

Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors First Baptist, So. Lebanon.

Posted on October 27, 2017 8:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
The human body needs a skeleton to give it structure and strength.  In the same way every Bible study lesson needs some kind of structure to help the teacher deliver the body of material he or she is presenting.  Here are some thoughts on developing those main thoughts or points:
First, we must be sure our major thoughts are based upon the text we are teaching.  Have you ever listened to someone talk, and you were certain that you knew what they were about to say before they finished their sentence?  If you were hasty, you might even cut them off and finish the thought for them, only to find out, that they were not saying what you thought they were.  Have you ever listened to someone share a thought and later find out that you took their comment entirely different than they intended?  Communication can truly be a difficult task.  
As we read and study the Bible it is easy to read our thoughts into a passage.  We may even find ourselves teaching an idea that the text does not intend at all.  One time I was developing a sermon that was focused on the phrase that is repeated in Isaiah stating, “His hand is stretched out still.”  My first thoughts were that of a compassionate God who was still reaching out to receive His hurting children.  After further study, I discovered that the phrase actually referred to God’s hand of judgment being stretched out over a stubborn nation of rebellious children.  I was about to teach the text incorrectly due to reading my thoughts into the text.  I cringe at the thought of misrepresenting God’s Word in such a way.  This is why proper study of the text is essential before we completely develop our major thoughts or points that we wish to teach.  It is very easy for us to read our thoughts into a Bible text.
Second, teaching points need to be clear and understandable.  Be sure your points are on the correct age-level for your pupils.  Even in adult classes you need to assume your students have not studied as much as you have.  Have you ever walked away from the doctor’s office or a mechanic’s garage scratching your head because he uses terms you do not use every day?  Every profession has its own lingo.  Sunday School teachers can get accustomed to using “churchy” words as well.  Be sure the main points are easy to understand as you prepare your lesson.   Someone has said that a scholar can make simple truths sound complicated, but a good communicator can make complicated truths sound simple.  Go for simple—strive to be a good communicator who happens to know his Bible well.  
Third, consider making your main points statements of action or dynamic life principles.  Some teachers are very accustomed to using a teaching outline like we learned in high school speech class.  We might outline the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:1-34 using, 1) The Reason for the Council; 2) The Reports during the Council; 3) The Resolution from the Council.  Many teachers and preachers, however, are enjoying using an outline that is more application driven, such as, 1) When disagreements arise among believers, we need to work hard to find God’s solutions; 2) Really listening to people who walk closely with Christ can bring resolution to a conflict; 3) Finding God’s solution to a conflict brings great reward and encouragement. 
A more principle-driven outline can also be useful, such as, 1) A growing church is not free of difficulties; 2) Real solutions to conflict are biblical and center on the needs of people; 3) When addressing conflict, stay focused on grace.  Whatever way you choose to word your main points, make sure your statements are easy to remember and easy to apply to the lives of your people.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon, Oh.
Posted on October 18, 2017 8:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
One well-known pastor speaks of listening to sermons most of his life.  He even took notes on the messages.  He often would take down the main points of a Bible teacher’s lesson and next to the point write “YBH” (Yes, but how?).  As a young man this pastor discovered that much of the teaching he heard spoke of living a proper Christian life, but very little of it told him how to do so in practical ways.  
Many of your students may be able to tell you the names of the 12 apostles after you have worked hard on teaching them, but will they be able to resist temptation, speak kindly to an enemy or share the gospel with a friend?  Learning Bible facts is very important, but we should remember that the Pharisees knew a lot of Bible facts while missing the fact that God in human flesh was standing right in front of them.  Below are some thoughts that may help you develop application of the teaching points you share each Sunday in class.  
Try to practice empathy with those you teach and apply the truth appropriately.  Try to understand their frame of reference.  If you teach sixth graders, try to understand their world and feel what they feel.  If you teach high school girls, try to think about what they are experiencing at school and at home.  The more you understand your pupils, what they need and what they are facing, the easier it is to apply God’s Word to their lives.  
Ask yourself “yes, but how” questions as you prepare your lesson.  Maybe you are teaching young adults that it is important to train their children in the ways of the Lord.  That’s good, but it is even better if you can explain to them in practical terms, how they can do that.  Maybe you are teaching teens that they don’t have to give in to peer-pressure.  That’s great, but how can they resist the temptation?  As a teacher, you need to look for real answers in God’s Word that will help them to answer the tough questions.
Ask yourself “perspective” questions as you make a certain teaching point.  You may be teaching about the importance of the local church.  To make application you might think about how this point fits into the life of a faithful Christian, a very busy family member, a struggling doubter, an unsaved visitor or a hurting person.  Suddenly you are able to begin to shape application points that will fit the perspectives of the various people in your class.
Make your application thoughts as positive and encouraging as you can.  Guilt-trip applications seem to have lost some of their effectiveness in recent years (if they ever were effective).  Guilt application lasts a while, but when people see the benefits of an application, they are more likely to continue it.  People are much more responsive to application that helps them see the blessings of following the ways of God and the practical ways they can walk in obedience to God’s truth.  
Your people are also much more likely to respond to well-worded applications of Bible truths.  To say, “Your walk with God is pretty lame if you don’t pray every day,” may feel good to get off your chest, but it might not be the best way to get people to pray.  But to explain to a working mother with three very active preschoolers that she might try keeping a basic prayer list in her car, and that she could use that list to guide her thoughts before she enters her place of work, could prove to be very helpful.  She is much more likely to respond to practical steps rather than trying to deal with the guilt of adding one more thing to her very active life.  
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon, Oh.
Posted on October 17, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
There was a Southern Preacher that once preached a message about the resurrection.  The title of the message was “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a Comin.’”  I often will quote that title around the house and adjust it to the day of the week.  It reminds me that I need to stay at it because Sunday is a comin’!  It is amazing how quickly Sunday comes around when you are a Sunday School teacher.  Preparing the lesson is a task that requires some diligent work.  Today we look at some practical questions that might help as you prepare for the lesson you will teach.
What does the text say?  As we study the Bible for lesson preparation, it is important to have some paper and a pencil or use a computer program that will allow us to record our thoughts.  As we teach, we want to teach out of what the Lord has taught us in our personal study.  Using a quarterly or commentary is helpful later on, but first, we want God to speak to our hearts through the text.  Many teachers find it helpful to simply read the text several times, allowing the passage to penetrate their thoughts.  You may also wish to read the text in several translations and note subtle differences that may help you understand the intention of the writer.
What is the background and the context of the book my passage is in?  A good study Bible can help you get a good overview of the author’s intent as he writes the book of the Bible in which your text appears.  For example, it is good to know that Timothy is serving as a pastor as Paul writes to him in the books of First and Second Timothy.  It is helpful to know that the book of First Corinthians is written to correct the improper behavior of the Christians in the church at Corinth.  It is helpful to know that Deuteronomy is made up primarily of Moses’ farewell speeches to the Hebrews. 
When we see a text in light of the book in which it appears, it adds light to the passage.
What comes before and after the text?  Just reading a chapter or two before and after the text, can help you understand what is truly being said, and help you avoid misrepresenting a text of scripture.  You will also need this information later when you introduce the lesson, so jot down what you learn.  For example, 1 Corinthians 13 is about love, but the context is a church at war with itself.  That is helpful to know, especially in the application of the passage.
Are there words and phrases that I am unsure about?  You can write down parts of the text that you don’t fully understand.  For example, if you are studying John 3 you might write down questions about the text such as, “Why does Jesus say “we” and “our” in verse 11?”  “What does it mean to be born of water and of the Spirit?”  “What’s the Old Testament passage that Jesus refers to in verse 14?”  You will likely accumulate quite a list after many readings. 
You may not find answers to all your questions, but this process will deepen your understanding of the text.  Later when you go to the quarterly, a commentary or a Bible dictionary, you may discover some of the answers to your questions and have many great insights to share with your class.  This will give you confidence in your teaching and prepare you for those unexpected questions in class.
Are there other places in the Bible that might teach some of the same ideas and truths?  Here the use of a concordance or a Bible software program can be very helpful.  You can cross-reference words and phrases and find out how they are used in other passages.  If humility is a key thought in your text, you may find many other verses to shed light on your text, deepening your understanding of the truth being taught.  The goal is to be true to the text and allow God to speak His truth through you.  May He bless you as you study and prepare to teach the Word.
Dave Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon, Oh.