One of my hopes for Cross of Christ as a church, and especially the leaders, is that we be biblical and not just theological. Luther, Calvin, Keller, and Piper are all great interpreters of scripture, but their work points us to a far more amazing and sure foundation—the Bible itself.
A conviction that underlies this is that personal renewal precedes corporate renewal. Worship is the point and catalyst for mission - we do and share what we love - so we consistently aim to increase our affections for Jesus.
One simple way our leaders are cultivating their understanding of scripture together is to take turns at meetings leading the group in a devotion. In addition to helping them love Jesus and the Bible more, I think there are some great benefits to doing this together:
- They’ll be equipped to lead their families, friends, co-workers, neighbors in devotions.
- They’ll grow in seeing the Gospel in all of the Bible as they look for it.
- They’ll have a great toolbox of biblical applications of the Gospel for counseling friends in need.
- They’ll get the pleasure of hearing their friends interpret the Bible and bring it to bear on their lives.
I get excited thinking about a church whose leadership and culture is shaped by opening the Bible and preaching the Gospel together!
There are other good paradigms out there, but here are the six questions I trained our team to ask when preparing a devotional. One reason I like them is because you can roughly describe them as head (Q’s 1-2), heart (Q’s 3-5), and hands (Q 6).
SIX QUESTIONS TO ASK IN PREPARING A DEVOTIONAL
1. What does it say?
This is the scriptural question. What is the plain reading of this scripture? How would you summarize it in your own words? If it is a narrative passage, what is happening and why?
2. What does it mean?
This is the theological question. How are the verses you’ve selected related to the passages around them? To the chapter or book as a whole? Who was the audience and what is the author’s intent? Is there a truth in here that you can explain with biblical or systematic theology?
3. Why do we resist it?
This is the heart-level and apologetic question. What in your heart keeps you from believing or obeying the truth? Why and what are you trying to gain? Is there something on a cultural level that makes disbelief or disobedience more plausible? This needs to be granular and particular, not general.
4. Is there a story I can use to illustrate it?
Stories and illustrations add power and help people make connections that simply telling them information cannot. Is there a story from your life, a movie, a song, something in nature, or an everyday occurrence that can help illustrate the point?
5. How is Jesus the hero?
This is the Christological question. Without Jesus your devotional will just be good advice that isn’t even necessarily Christian; with Jesus, it will convey the great news of a loving and gracious God. Jesus said all of Scripture was about him (Luke 24) so we should be able to, without clumsily shoehorning him in there, find him from any point of scripture. The application of the Gospel here should be as granular and particular as what was exposed in question three.
6. Why does it matter for our community?
This is the mission question. Why does what we’ve seen from the Bible about our hearts and Jesus matter for our community and the mission where God has placed us? Why is this not only true but good enough to shape and move us and others?
I hope these questions serve you, your team, and your church well.