Awaken isn’t exactly a “traditional” church and we like it that way. We’ve had plenty of people ask questions about why we do certain things the way we do them, so this week, I hope to answer some of those questions. If you have a question of your own, let us know. These blogs won’t be exhaustive, but they should at least give you a peek into why we do church the way we do. I’ll hit on a few broad topics such as Bible Teaching (today), Giving, Kids Ministry, Outreach, etc.
I doubt you can attend an Awaken service without realizing at least one important thing about us: we love God’s Word and we fully believe that it is 100% relevant to our lives today. Believe me, if it were only a history book, I’d find something better to do with my life. You should be able to recognize our love for the Scripture just from our tag line (mission statement, vision statement, motto, slogan, whatever you want to call it):
AWAKENing people to the relevance of God’s Word and equipping them for His service.
I teach expositionally. If you’re wondering what that is, it could be quickly defined like this:
Exposing the truth of God’s Word by allowing the text to determine the content of the sermon.
In other words, what I preach isn’t designed around what I think you need to hear. It’s centered on what the text of the Scripture says. I fully believe the Bible when it says that it …is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires (Hebrews 4:12, NLT). Normally, I pick a book of the Bible and teach the whole thing, no matter how long it takes me. I’ve taught smaller books like Philemon & Jonah in 1 sitting, or larger books like Genesis over a period of 2 years.
Here’s 3 beauties of teaching this way:
1) It clears the airwaves for God. It allows Him to speak to us on exactly the topics we need to hear at the exact moment we need to hear them. I don’t have to try to be all edgy and figure out what it is that you need to hear – I’m pretty confident in the Holy Spirit’s ability to do that (refer to Hebrews 4:12 above).
2) It forces me to teach texts and topics that I may normally be tempted to steer clear of. For example, when I taught through Revelation, I was forced to teach on topics I had never taught on. Good example: Revelation 17 – a vision of a drunk prostitute riding on the back of a scarlet beast. What?! That’s in the Bible? Yeah…and it’s awesome. The idea behind the passage is the fall of the world system. The world system is represented by the prostitute (lust, fornication) drunk on the blood of the saints. It’s a very graphic description of the appeal of the world despite its final destination (violent destruction). Let me be honest – I would have NEVER chosen that passage to teach. But, since I was teaching through the book, it was next in line. I can tell you it was hard-hitting and extremely relevant. We needed to peek behind the curtains of the world system and see what fuels it and where it’s headed. It ended up being one of my favorite teachings in Revelation!
3) It helps me to be true to the text. Taking Scripture out of context happens FAR too often…and it’s actually really easy to do. We get a topic or an idea in our mind, then try to find a passage of Scripture to back it up. That’s all backwards. That’s not the way it should be done. Approaching it from the other angle helps me to say what the text is meant to say. I’m able to take into consideration the historical and literary context and expose the truth behind the passage.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with a good “series,” – I’ll do those here and now. I taught a series called Be Transformed when we started our Wednesday night home Bible study during the summer. Even a series can be taught expositionally.
So, when you come to Awaken, bring your Bible! We use them a lot. Bible teaching is the central part of the ministry of Awaken. It should be a part of your daily life as well.