How to Prepare to Lead in God’s Word
Posted: 29 July 2014
Vine Growth Short Courses
As we seek to provide Vine Church with practical training in different areas of ministry life, we come to looking at how to prepare to lead other's in God's Word. But firstly, we need to understand that this training is not 'how to lead other's in God's Word' but instead 'how to prepare to lead other's in God's word'. In my own ministry I have found a great difference to these two steps, and in my failings at times I have all together forgotton the importance of preparation.
So what do I mean by prepare? Well really just 2 steps...LEARN the Word & LOVE the Word. So lets explore each of these to help you think through how to lead others.
LEARN the Word
This is what we may call the art of biblical interpretation or just asking the question 'what does the bible say/mean'. This is such a crucial step for it moves us to our belief that God reveals himself in the pages of scripture, in His word (2 Tim 3:16). As we look towards leading other's in God's Word means that we need to take seriously the word of scripture. So we learn. How you ask? Here a a few pointers...
- Read the passage, read the passage, read the passage... Print the passage out with no headings or even verse numbers and just read it. I am always gladly surprised that as I pour my self over the bible I end up with a much greater clarity of what it says/means than I though I could get on my own.
- Ask the text a few questions... what do surrounding verses say into this passage, who is this written too, where does it place in the biblical narrative (the bible as a whole), what is hard to understand, what do other biblical authors say into this passage.
- Use a helpful Bible Study booklet that asks questions for you to answer of the text... the 'Knowing the Bible' series by Crossway are a helpful example of this.
- Read a helpful commentary or listen to a sermon... Now I do say this with hesitation because I know that in my busy schedule this was my first step as a young Christian. I was time poor and I just wanted to know the answers. These days I try to only reach for outside sources when I really hit a road block, rather than at the outset.
Remember though, we LEARN the text to help others discover it for themselves. If you just want the answers then you will lead others to just want the answers. But if you prepare by discovering the text for yourself, leaning on the Spirit's help, and being guided by others, you have the opportunity to take others on that adventure too.
LOVE the Word
This seems like such an obvious step but too often due to time constraints, pressure to look clever, or just laziness, this step is too often neglected. John Piper, head of Desiring God Ministries, used to finish his sermons on Fridays and use Saturday mornings to 'get it into his heart'. If we as leaders dont use our preparation time to not only learn the Word but love it then we will be ineffective in our ministry to lead others. So how can you seek to LOVE the Word? Here is a short method that I use that I find helpful...
- Who Is GOD - simply, what is the passage telling you of God's character
- What has he DONE - from the passage or other scripture, what actions has God done that have displayed this character. Here I turn to the climax of the Gospel and see how Jesus has made known the character of God
- Who am I - from the text, who am I. Not what you feel like, but what does the text say about you.
- What am I called to DO - I pray and ask the Spirit to reveal to me what I am to do in light of the above.
This may seem simple but it shapes my devotion time and the pages of my journal. I am too prone to ask 'who am I' but this method of look at God and what he has done turns my hearts affection to him as I see myself in the person and work of Christ. This simple structure is actually behind many of the questions that I ask the groups I lead. As I set out to facilate leading the group, I only write down 4 questions that are each tied to the above 4 questions and as I lead the group I see where the Spirit takes us on each. Sometimes we spend a lot of time on one, sometimes we get through all. It changes every week.
For more thoughts on Preparing to Lead in God's Word see the resources below...
David Powlison, Bible Reading for Personal Application. LINK: http://www.ccef.org/store/catalog/conference-audio/bible-reading-personal-application
Col Marshall, Growth Groups Manual. LINK: http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/growth-groups-manual
Jeff Vanderstelt, Gospel Fluency. LINK: http://wearesoma.com/resources/featured/gospel-fluency-2/