3 Ways Leaders Can Teach the Bible’s Grand Story
Adapted from My Recent Guest Post at Ericgeiger.com
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, in partnership with the Read the Bible for Life initiative, 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!”
(you can see testimonies from those who have participated in various aspects of the Read the Bible for Life initiative here.)
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. LifeWay 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.
(In my next post, I will point out 3 ways a church could use The Heart of God’s Story this Fall, and from time to time will post clips that will give you a taste of the curriculum so you can see the potential impact in your church context.)