Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pastors' Conference - Day 3

I was up late last night trying to figure out what I was going to teach today. I had some general ideas, but the just didn't seem to be coming together. It's difficult to know what will work and what will not work in this context. And it's difficult to know what the pastors and church leaders need. And it's difficult to know how to communicate the ideas cross-culturally.

So, I was up until 1:00 am. Of course, part of that late night was eating cake and ice cream at Steve's birthday party.

I went to bed knowing that I did not have enough material to fill half the time for today.

But then when I woke up, I had an hour to get ready, and it all came together so well.

We met at the Iglesia Filadelfia again. The local church leaders had asked for more time. So, our schedule was 8:00 am to 12:00 pm, with a 2 hour lunch break, and then another meeting from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. But, schedules are far more flexible in Latin America. Rafael and Roberto (pastor of Filadelfia) have joked that saying 8:00 am means we'll start at 9:00 am. And that was true our first day. But, the people have been coming early. Today, we only started 30 minutes after our scheduled time.

In Latin America, it's a really good sign when people start arriving closer to the actual scheduled time.

Session 1 lasted for 1 hour and 40 minutes,and 16 people attended. Again, that was a great turnout. Remember that the pastors and church leaders have other jobs. They have to take time off from those jobs in order to attend. And some had to travel long distances. So, I appreciate every one who attends.

Our first topic was how to identify Christ in any biblical text. I used the ideas of Bryan Chapell. And we practiced with some texts from the Bible: Job 42:7-17, Ezra 1:1-11, Ezekiel 24:15-27, and Zechariah 3:1-5. At the beginning of the week, I explained that the entire Bible is about Jesus (see Luke 24:44). So today, we talked about how we can identify how the texts point to Jesus.

Next, we talked about different types of people who exist in our churches. I used the ideas from J.I. Packer here. I explained that in our teaching, whether preaching or teaching a Bible study, we need to consider the situations and needs of several different groups of people. Here are a couple examples. Some people might be ignorant of the Word, but have the desire to learn. Such people need clear, thorough instruction. Or, others may know the Word well, but they have never been humbled by it; these could be the Pharisees of our churches, or people who have heard all the teachings, but simply refuse to believe. They need to be confronted with their sin and challenged to respond. The various groups need to hear different things in the Word. So, it's good for teachers to consider the needs of each group and who should be addressed, and how each can be addressed, when teaching.

Then, we took a nice break.

After the break, we had session 2, which lasted for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

In session 2, I focused on 6 ways of applying the truth of a text. Again, this was from Packer. And we returned to our examples from Job, Ezra, Ezekiel and Zechariah, and we discussed the applications of each passage.

Then, it was time for lunch. During our 2-hour lunch break, I ate a quick lunch. And then I went back to work refining my plans for the afternoon session. Before I knew it, it was time to get back to work.

Session 3 lasted for 1 hour and 40 minutes. There were also 16 people in attendance, although it wasn't the same 16. Some from the morning sessions could not attend in the afternoon. But, we gained some people in the afternoon who couldn't attend in the morning.

I explained Mark Dever's sermon application grid. I explained the parts of the grid, and then we practiced them with Job 42 and James 2:1-13. I had focused on Old Testament passages in the morning, because I began with the task of identifying Christ in the text. That is usually pretty easy in the New Testament, but I wanted to show them that Jesus is throughout the Old Testament, too. But, in the afternoon session, I wanted to make sure I also showed how to teach from the New Testament.

When the session was over, I asked the people to complete another feedback form. And I asked them to add something on the back. I wanted them to describe how these meetings together would affect or change their ministries. I said it's fine to say you've learned a lot, or that it's been beneficial. But, I wanted them to think about what difference it was going to make for them.

Here are some of the feedback responses (from the 4 standard questions and today's addition)
  • One asked to learn more about the history and cultures of the Bible, so that he could better understand the texts.
  • One person said he learned a new method for preparing sermons, but all the information made his brain tired. He also said that he learned that the theme of restoration is throughout the Bible. And he asked if we could discuss the concepts of revenge, punishment, discipline and payment found in Hebrews 10:29-30 and 12:7.
  • Two said they learned how to organize their teachings of the Word.
  • One said he learned more about preaching to the unsaved people in his church.
  • One said that he will be more careful about examining his own faith and his spiritual life.
  • One said he learned more about how God pardons our sin and has mercy on us and gives us a purpose in life.
I won't be teaching again until Saturday, because the mission team is taking a trip tomorrow and Friday. But Saturday I'll be with the pastors from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, and we're serving them lunch, too. Meanwhile, the ladies on the team are going to be spending the day with the pastors' wives.

And here are some pictures from today.

Most of the pictures are pretty self-explanatory. But, I want to add something to this first picture. It's a picture of Ramon, who is pastor of Second Baptist Church, here in Nagarote. He's the only one of the pastors who has attended any amount of seminary. And he's been asking a lot of questions. The other pastors have even joked about it. I think, maybe, he's been testing me. But, all the questions have been good and relevant. And he keeps coming. So, I'm happy.

Oh, and this is the projector set up at the start of the afternoon session. The mission team had provided a projector last year. It's housed at Filadelphia, but available to all the pastors in the group. They've formed a local cooperation for sharing resources. And this year I brought some books for the group to share.

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