I was privileged to hear Mike Dean preach recently. The big idea of the message was on service. We need to do more than sit and soak up Bible study lessons; we need to be doers of the Word. The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve. We too need to serve.
One of the great things about this message was the application. Mike gave lots of examples of different ways we can be involved in service. No matter your interest, your talent, your schedule, there is a way for you to serve.
The entire time Mike was speaking, there was a clear bowl of water in front of him with a large yellow sponge in it. With the bowl of water just sitting there, you couldn’t help but wonder why it was there. Toward the end of the message he used it as an incredible object lesson.
Mike said that God doesn’t want us just to sit and soak. When we sit and soak, we sour. Mike put his hand on the sponge. He dipped into the water. He squeezed it and let it go. He lifted it up and squeezed again. Water poured out.
Mike talked about how we don’t want to sit and soak. He talked about how we all will be used by God. He kept dipping the sponge in the water and pulling out and squeezing it. I’ll never forget that picture.
Object lessons are like that: we never forget them. I remember an object lesson from when I was in the sixth grade. I don’t remember the preacher, but I remember the object lesson. The preacher pulled out a big barrel. He talked about Elijah and the widow at Zarephath—how “The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.” 1 Kings 17:14 (NIV)
I listened to that preacher for a whole year. I don’t remember any other sermons he preached. But I remember that one because he used an object lesson. Object lessons stick to the brain.
What if you’re not very creative? What if you can’t come up with object lessons? I’ve got good news. Here are four sources of great object lessons:
- Google it. There are tons of sites with ideas for object lessons. Don’t be afraid to look at children sites. If you keep the kids’ interest, you will likely keep the adults’ interest as well. (The opposite is not true.)
- Similarly, there are tons of books available on object lessons. Many of them are geared for kids, but work equally well for adults.
- Your group’s creative juices. You may not be all that creative, but there’s a good chance someone in your group is. Email them and ask them for ideas. My guess is group will suddenly become a whole lot more interesting for them and everyone else.
- Form a group of teacher friends. The technology could be as simple as an email group where everyone simply hits “reply to all.” Alternatively, you might make or join a Facebook group. If everyone is studying the same curriculum, all the better. In any case, you all have a similar interest: to make your Bible teaching effective. Swap ideas. Brainstorm.
Effective Bible Teachers use stuff that you can touch and feel. They use stuff that you can smell, taste, hold, manipulate. Such teaching is unforgettable.