As I draw near to the end of my Old Testament class, I am excited to consider how this experience will be used in my ministry in the future. As director of Spiritual Formation for my congregation, I have several avenues in which this material will be of great benefit. I will list them here.
- Worship. I have already had an opportunity to share my takeaways from our study of the lament psalms. I preached two services this past Sunday based upon Brueggemann’s “The Costly Loss of Lament,” framework. It was good in that many shared with me a gratitude for having been given the freedom to “lament” in worship along with addressing their true emotions. It was very well received by several in my congregation. I intend to work with my senior pastor and worship leader to incorporate more opportunities to experience worship in non-traditional ways in the coming year because people are always looking for alternative ways to connect and experience God’s presence.
- MLK Weekend. I already have a sermon planned for Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend 2018 based upon the work we did with the Letter from the Birmingham Jail. The annotated letter, along with the work with the Book of Amos, I believe, will give me a great start to helping my congregation to engage with an issue that is still just as relevant today as it was 5o years ago. As well, my church is in the heart of Birmingham, AL , which I believe will make it even more real for our hearers. However, without this course, I would have never made the Amos connection. So I believe my congregants will find it most interesting since many of them have never even heard of Amos! (But really, who has outside of seminary??) So good stuff!
- Sermon Series. As well, I like the idea of creating a few (maybe a series) of sermons that truly get into the messages of the prophets. Only with this course have I come to truly understand the different messages. Economics vs. Social Justice vs. Religious Issues – all relevant today if we take the time to understand their points. I normally only have the opportunity to preach 4-5 times a year, but I think people would enjoy those messages. My congregation loves “learning something they have never heard before” concerning biblical culture, history, politics, etc. And to learn that the prophets were addressing different social and cultural issues would maybe bring life to a part of the Bible that most folks have never studied before. Sure did for me!
- Disciple Bible Study. I normally teach a “Disciple Bible Study” course during the school year on Wednesday nights. I am heavily considering leading Disciple III in the fall which deals specifically with the prophets during the monarchical period. I have never felt equipped to lead this particular study because of my lack of knowledge regarding the time period and the prophets’ culture in general. I look very much forward to engaging this material more deeply in order to truly learn more about it, but also to be able to present it in the classroom with as much value added as possible. Out of all the “Disciples,” this is the one that most people avoid. I am hoping to create some excitement around it!
- Sunday Morning Curriculum. I also teach a Sunday Morning class on complete scripture study. I have always created my own curriculum. I have a couple ideas that I am going to pray over and submit to the class for a vote. One is a study of the Davidic Dynasty. Our study of the Judaean Royal Prophecy along with the Deuteronomist theory would make such an interesting study if we read through the scriptural stories that most people are familiar with. The second would be a study of the Post-Exile period including Ezra, Nehemiah, the second Deuteronomistic redaction and the associated prophets. The point being, trying to bridge the gap between the exile and the period of the New Testament. Why did those temple authorities hate Jesus so much?? Interesting for me for sure, but I am quite certain that particular class would enjoy those conversations also.
- Big Ideas and Essential Questions. I am slated this summer to work on a team inside my church to create a two-year scope curriculum that will better prepare our 4th & 5th grade students for confirmation in the 6th grade. Our confirmation process lasts for an entire school year, and we have identified many weaknesses in their complete understanding of the major themes of the Bible. This is our number 1 priority, to give as much understanding to those children as possible regarding the nature of God, the importance of their decision, the meaning of grace, etc… Having become accustomed to thinking in terms of “Big Ideas and Essential Questions,” this framework will be most beneficial to me in beginning the outline process for that project.
Finally, I really enjoyed the extra resources coming out of the Bible Odyssey site. I can using that site quite often in the future as a research vehicle that is easily accessible and easily digested when one has specific questions and specific topics to research. Each speaker was top-notch.
Overall, I loved the course, learned tons, and am always looking for ministry applications inside my classroom work. I have definitely walked away with much usable content for my congregation and I am so thankful for it. Way to go OOTLE!! And big thanks to Dr. Lester and Sun-Ah Kang for making it such a fun and enjoyable experience!!