I am honored to lead the Resources Division at LifeWay and serve with a team of leaders who are passionate to serve the Church in her mission of making disciples. Each Wednesday, I share the heart behind one of the resources our team has developed and give an opportunity for you to register to win a free copy of the resource. This week’s giveaway is The Heart of God’s Story Bible Study Leader Kit from Dr. George H. Guthrie.
In this post, Dr. Guthrie offers us 3 important ways leaders can help teach the Bible’s overarching, grand story. Dr. Guthrie serves as the Benjamin W. Perry Professor of Bible at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.
Scripture presents us with a beautiful, powerful, overarching story. It has a meganarrative “backbone” that takes the reader of the whole Bible from the rhythmic beauty and order of creation, through the chaotic crisis of the fall, to the climax of the cross, and finally to the renewal of all things in the new heavens and earth. That “story” is at the heart of what God is up to in the universe, and at the heart of God’s story, we find our purpose in life. So, it is important that teachers and preachers of the Bible help people grasp and live that story. Yet a very big, very practical question for most of us is how can we help people ‘get’ Scripture’s grand story? How can we encourage them to embrace and embody the biblical story when that story is so big, so complex, and so interspersed with lots of other parts of Scripture?
Here are three practical things we can do to move from a lower level to a higher level of effort and commitment:
1. Participate in a “Read Through/Preach Through” Year.
Over the past few years, many churches across North America have had a year-long focus of preaching through the high points of the biblical meganarrative as their congregations read through the Bible chronologically. There have even been groups of churches in a given city who have done the emphasis together, neighbors “talking across the fence” or over lettuce in the grocery store about a passage from Job or a detail from Romans. The experience is unifying for a church, and I have heard over and over again that many members of a congregation remarked, “I have never understood how all of this fits together before!”
2. Tap Special Studies Annually.
You should have ongoing, special opportunities for your people to be educated in the details of Scripture’s meganarrative (perhaps at least 1 class a year that addresses the topic). Recently, we released a new 6-week Bible study titled The Heart of God’s Story, and it was designed for churches to use as a whole-church experience or as an elective study. The content speaks of the importance of knowing the story of Scripture and tracks three key themes woven beautifully and powerfully through the Bible: Knowing God’s Face (His Presence), Thriving in God’s Space (the Tabernacle/Temple theme in Scripture), and Extending God’s Grace in the world. The study can be used to teach believers the overarching beauty, progression, and unity of Scripture and can be used to introduce those who are not yet Christ-followers to the gospel.
3. Incorporate a “Story” Approach in Small Group/Sunday School over Time.
Ultimately, our task of teaching people the big story of Scripture is not about a book or a curriculum or an event. It is about us thinking through how, over decades, we can change the way people in our churches engage the Bible. In the fragmentation of church education over the past 30-40 years, many of us lost systematic approaches to helping our folks work through the whole of Scripture. Therefore, we also need to tap into long-term educational strategies through curricula to expose people to the whole of the Bible. (Note from Eric: We designed “The Gospel Project” specifically around this approach to group study and curriculum for kids and students.)
More and more in the days ahead, people of our churches are going to need a clear, compelling, counter-cultural story in which to live. Let’s give them that story, strategizing various ways to expose them to and shape them by the most beautiful, powerful, transformative story in the world. As we do this, they themselves can become more effective tellers of that story.
If you are interested in learning more about the Bible’s grand story, be sure to check out The Heart of God’s Story. This group Bible study will help you discover the presence of God at the heart of His story and understand why we were created, where we are heading, and how to live out the gospel in the world right now.
Register here or in the form below to win one of ten copies of The Heart of God’s Story Leader Kit.
You can also purchase kits at lifeway.com/HeartofGodsStory, 800.458.2772, or LifeWay Christian Stores.