Sunday, December 14, 2014

Why you shouldn't program what you're studying

Tomorrow I'll get to wear a black robe, a funny hat and graduate with a Bachelor of Theology.

In theory, for a while, it will be the end of my studies (aside from some more Greek I'll be doing next year) and, in partnership with a question I was asked during a congregational meeting, the process has reminded me about programing.

When I was asked about the curriculum we use in our youth/children's ministry, I mentioned that I've already planned a rough outline for the cycle of the children's and youth ministry (thus I could look up and tell them an outline of what we'll probably do at the start of 2017).

One advantage I have, now that I've been in ministry long enough, is that I have a vast bank of lessons and programs to go back to.

AND, I'll never fall for the programing trap which ensnares a lot of ministers...
Using your current topic of study in the current program.

By this I mean, say you're studying 1 & 2 Samuel in your theological studies, then, simultaneously, you'll also study the same thing at youth group bible study or the church preaching plan.

On face value, it seems like a decent idea.

First, you get to share with those you minister to what you're learning.
And second, you get to cut down in preparation time, since you're going to be delving into the topic anyway.

But, there's a significant danger...

First, until you've finished the topic, you might be shooting in the dark when initially planning the series since you're unfamiliar with the way your topic hangs together. In short, you're without a fully developed big picture.
Second, the reduction of preparation could blow up in your face if you need to cram a confusing week of lectures into a somewhat coherent talk.
And third, you're not far enough ahead of your people in order to adequately address unforseen questions.

So, while it might seem like a wise idea to "preach from the overflow of your studies" the risks aren't worth it.

Give it another semester, it can only help...

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