Have you ever heard someone talk eloquently, even entertainingly and not had the first idea what their point was? You are not alone. Sometimes I’ve finished a lesson and not know my point. It happens to us all, but it never happened to Jesus, nor God’s prophets.
Today we investigate the significance of every lesson having a ‘Big Idea’. The inspiration for our material comes from the second chapter of Haddon Robinson‘s magnificent book ‘Biblical Preaching’.
The central point here is that Scripture contains so much truth that to simplify lay it out to the hearer will overwhelm them. We do not make a nutritious meal by taking everything in our fridge and combining it into one dish. Everything in that fridge might be healthy and tasty, but piling all the ingredients into one pot will obliterate the unique flavours and textures, creating a bland meal. The illustration has its limitations, but the point is that lessons, like meals, are more palatable when care is taken in selecting the ingredients. In this case, we are determining the main element in a dish. Condiments may be added to the pulses, cheese, meat or vegetable which form the heart of the meal, but they are there to enhance the main event, not replace it.
Chapter 2: What’s the Big Idea?
- The importance of a single idea: A bullet, not a shotgun. The parables are the supreme example in the teachings of Jesus. Sometimes they have more than one act — like the parable of the prodigal — but they have one point.
- The definition of an idea: A sentence that contains the essential truth of a text. This is not the title of the lesson, nor the purpose of your lesson to your hearers, but it is the key point from an in the text. Now that you have this you can move on to ponder its meaning to your listeners.
- The formation of an idea: Look for all the truths and find what they point to. We need a question and an answer. In Luke 15 it might be, “Who does father God want at his heavenly banquet?”, “Father God wants the ‘sinner’ and the ‘righteous’ one at his heavenly banquet.”
- Examples of forming an idea: Acts 2 — v36
Conclusion: Finding the big idea in a text is usually not a quick task. We must consider the passage, its co-text, context and genre. Bible dictionaries and commentaries will be needed. However, once that work is done, it is a relatively simple matter to structure a lesson, illustrate and apply the big idea to the group you will be speaking to
Consider joining AIM UK&Ireland to develop your understanding of Scripture: https://aimukandireland.com/. Our most recent module is Homiletics (the preparation and delivery of lessons).
Contact us here with enquiries: email@example.com
The website can be found here: https://aimukandireland.com
Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.
Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, or practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.
Please pass the link on, subscribe, and leave a review.
Remember to keep calm, and carry on teaching.
God bless, Malcolm