Staying on the Line

Church Leadership Training
We now have two weekly church leadership training courses with a total of 10 participants representing 4 different churches. The classes are deliberately kept small (ideally 4-5 men) to facilitate relational discipleship, open, transparent discussion, and more personalized training. The current focus of our studies is “Correctly Handling the Word of Truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). My burden is to teach these men how to interpret, expound, and apply God’s word to their own lives and the lives of those to whom they minister. Using an inductive Bible study approach, we work our way through different books of Scripture, seeking to understand each book’s meaning and message.  Our times of prayerful study are rich and edifying and full of exciting “aha” moments.

“Staying on the Line”
One of the teaching tools I use to emphasize the importance of sticking to the Bible’s text and message when preaching is the “staying on the line” illustration (not original with me).  The “line” represents the Bible, God’s word. Our task as preachers and teachers is to stay on the line—that is, making sure that what is being taught actually represents what the Bible says.

Two common errors in preaching are “going above the line” and “going below the line.” “Going above the line” means saying more than the text actually says. This mistake generally involves adding ideas and emphases to the message that aren’t in the text. Conversely, “going below the line” involves saying less than the text says. The error here involves leaving out significant parts of the passage’s message for whatever reason (fear, unbelief, etc.).

The task of the preacher, however, is to diligently seek to determine the actual message of the inspired text so that the sermon accurately reflects the message God intended for his people. Our job as preachers and teachers is to “let the Bible speak,” not adding our own ideas, traditions, or pet topics on the one hand, and not leaving out important elements of the text’s meaning and message on the other hand. A true “biblical” sermon is a sermon that “stays on the line.”

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