Who is the greatest teacher who ever lived?
And how did Jesus primarily teach?
All Jesus did that day was tell stories—a long storytelling afternoon. Matthew 13:34 (MSG)
A more straight forward translation:
Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. Matthew 13:34 (NIV)
Notice that last line: He did not say anything to them without using a parable. Effective Bible Teachers never teach anything without some stories.
Why did Jesus use so many stories when He taught?
Perhaps He knew what brain scientists have just now discovered: our brain is wired for story.
Effective Bible Teachers include three or four great stories in every lesson. They include. . .
- Touching stories
- Shocking stories
- Funny stories
- Interesting stories
- Puzzling stories
- Lots and lots of stories
It would be good to have a story from the Old Testament in every lesson. You teach the Bible truth and you teach the Old Testament at the same time.
It would be good to have a story from your own life in every lesson. A story from your own life makes the truth real.
It would be good to have a story from the news in every lesson. Jesus taught this way. Remember when He said, “and those men who died when the tower of Siloam fell. . .” (Luke 13.2 – 5) Teach like Jesus.
It would be good to have a thoroughly hilarious story in every lesson. I heard someone say, “It is the rare communicator who can connect with an audience without humor.” You don’t have to be a standup comic, but a little humor goes a long way in connecting with an audience. One funny story could greatly improve any lesson.
One area where we probably have too many stories is from the farm. Unless you teach in a church like mine—which actually sits in the middle of the farm—you probably don’t teach to all that many farmers. Jesus told a lot of stories from the farm because it was an agrarian society. There were lots of farmers. We have too many stories from the farm and not enough stories from the news.
It is always interesting to imagine how Jesus would tell a story if He were telling it today. In the story of the prodigal son we read, “He went off to the far country.” We don’t talk like that today. I think Jesus might say, “The boy ran off to Las Vegas.” A little later it says, “There was a great famine.” Ever been in a famine? An honest-to-goodness famine? Ever been to Wal-Mart and there was no food on the shelves? How would Jesus tell the story if he were telling it today? I think he would say, “There was a recession. Unemployment was high. Jobs were nowhere to be found.”
Jesus told made up stories that sounded current. We should do the same.