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Using A Sermon Prep Team [3]

okay, here is the third post of this series, but i've decided to add a fourth.  when i originally thought of this series i wasn't thinking of my 6 week prep period prior to teaching the series. so in this post i will discuss that part and then the next post will cover what we do in our weekly meetings as we teach through the book.

here is what we did those weeks:
  • week 1: read entire book (prior to our meeting) in an unmarked bible (preferably one without chapter or verse distinctions) and talk about our initial observations, one chapter at a time
  • week 2: read through entire book again (prior to meeting) and list out tensions in the text (theological or relational) or tensions in life the text addresses
  • week 3: read through entire book (prior to meeting) and note where thoughts start and finish.  every author has a "flow of thought" and this is CRITICAL to understand when teaching through a book.  in our meetings we talk about and share where we broke things down.
  • week 4: repeat week 3 without looking at our previous weeks' notes.  doing it this way you get a fresh look at it and in our meeting we then compare our new notes to the previous week and then collectively decide where the thoughts start and finish and which thoughts seem to be transitions between larger thoughts.
  • week 5: read through entire book again (prior to meeting) and choose one verse for each major thought.  we've already listed out where these start and finish already so now we simply pick one verse or verses that best summarizes each thought.  we then talk through each of our conclusions and collectively land on the key verses for each thought.
  • week 6: read through entire book again (prior to meeting) and take note of major themes we see throughout the book and then list specific verses we see that theme.  in our meeting we collectively decide on these as well.
each of these areas require a lot of time for each of the team, but when a team of people are speaking into it is a balanced result.  "living" in just the text like this over a period of time you become very familiar with the book and really feel like you know it well.

finally, here are a couple of other (important) thoughts i'd like to mention:
  • notice we did not once look at a commentary during this time of preparation - not even the introductions in study bibles.  when teaching our job is NOT to give a book report.  nobody wants that.  a lot of people think that "doing the work" of preparation simply means reading what everyone else has said about the book after the study they did.  i couldn't disagree with this more.  i'm not negating the benefit of commentaries but there is a huge difference between teaching from our head knowledge and teaching from our hearts and lives.  i believe it's vital for people to hear from someone that has lived in this book for a while versus someone who has simply studied and then regurgitates what they learned.
  • going through this process before i teach makes sure that i really do understand the flow of the book before teaching any one part of it.  it helps me keep each section of scripture, however i break it down, in it's appropriate context. in other words, it keeps me honest as i teach.
in the next post i will share the process we go through in our weekly meetings as i prepare to teach through particular sections.


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