Tool

Interpretive Lenses for Teaching and Preaching

Using The Interpretive Lenses

WEARING THE INTERPRETIVE LENSES FOR TEACHING AND PREACHING

 In studying a biblical text – the following lenses are ways of reading a text fully and well.  They can be used in the order given but will also be swapped out at times as insights arise.  Each section is completed by a meaning and significance statement, which describes how this interpretive lens has affected or changed your first understanding of the passage under study.

FIRST UNDERSTANDING LENS – A simple statement of what this passage appears to mean at your first read-throughs.  Take time to read through the text 30-50 times (yes, 30-50).  What are your questions/assumptions/impressions/reflections early on in your handling of this text?

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

GENRE LENS – What is the genre of this passage?  How will this genre awareness influence the handling of this passage?  What is the meaning and significance of the genre on the work of interpretation?  Use a good introductory work on the OT or NT to clarify the genre issues.

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

CONTEXTUAL LENS – What surrounds this passage?  What precedes and follows and what is the meaning and significance of this context?  This lens saves you from one of the greatest mistakes in handling the text of scripture . . . studying a text without a clear sense of the context.

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

PERSONAL LENS - How does this passage impact my life?  What is the Spirit of God impressing upon me through this text?  What is my response to God as I place my life before this truth?  This is the lens you must keep near as you work through a text . . .

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

CONTEXT OF REALITY LENS - What do we find in this text by way of an honest and real portrayal of reality?  What are the “under-the-sun” features that this text exhibits?  What seasons or situations or below the surface realities are in need of substantial healing?

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

WORD LENS– What are the words or key words (parrots) that must be given careful observation and interpretation?  How do the words themselves impact the meaning and significance of this passage and its truth?

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

STRUCTURAL LENS– For this passage what is the structure of the text?  What is the significance of this structure for interpretation?  Lay the text out in a word document and use the functions to note main and subordinate clauses / key words / linkage of thoughts etc.

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

LITERARY (STORY) LENS – What is the scene in this passage, and what is present in terms of characters, narrative, and plot?  What is to be discerned about the narrator in this passage?

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

 FALLEN CONDITION FOCUS LENS - What is found in this text that portrays the fallen, fragile, finite, or faltering condition of humanity?  To explore these dimensions see the work of Brian Chappell and Zack Eswine on the importance of this lens for teaching and preaching.

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

CULTURAL / HISTORICAL LENS –  Who is the author, original audience, time, setting, and purpose of writing that can be gathered from this scripture?  What are the discontinuities (in customs, practices, laws) between then and now AND what are the continuities (in universal kingdom history) between then and now?

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

SECONDARY SOURCES LENS– What is the take on this passage from three good commentaries?  How do these agree or disagree with your emerging understanding?  How would you defend or how have you changed your understanding?  Work with three to five good commentary sources as you prepare.  This is “the good work of others” that is a gift to ever teacher and preacher.

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

THEOLOGICAL LENS – What is revealed in this text about the nature of God?  How does this passage relate to Christ and how does Christ relate to it?  What does this text contribute to our understanding of Christ?  What in the context would connect to Him?  Finally, how does this text speak to the redemptive mission of God in the world?

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

PERSONAL LENS - Come back to this again!  How does this passage impact my life?  What is the Spirit of God impressing upon me through this text?  What is my response to God as I place my life before this truth?

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

ESSENCE LENS - Provide a succinct summary of the passage in view.  Work at declaring in a few words or sentences the essence of this text.  In some circles this is referred to as “the big idea,” but is truly all about answering the question – “What is this text seeking to say and do in the life of hearers?”

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

TEACHING LENS - As a result of what I have seen through these lenses, my first attempt or draft of a teaching framework would look like this . . .

From here you go to work on crafting the message for the audience or congregation before you . . .

Interpretive Lenses for Teaching and Preaching

Using The Interpretive Lenses

WEARING THE INTERPRETIVE LENSES FOR TEACHING AND PREACHING

 In studying a biblical text – the following lenses are ways of reading a text fully and well.  They can be used in the order given but will also be swapped out at times as insights arise.  Each section is completed by a meaning and significance statement, which describes how this interpretive lens has affected or changed your first understanding of the passage under study.

FIRST UNDERSTANDING LENS – A simple statement of what this passage appears to mean at your first read-throughs.  Take time to read through the text 30-50 times (yes, 30-50).  What are your questions/assumptions/impressions/reflections early on in your handling of this text?

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

GENRE LENS – What is the genre of this passage?  How will this genre awareness influence the handling of this passage?  What is the meaning and significance of the genre on the work of interpretation?  Use a good introductory work on the OT or NT to clarify the genre issues.

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

CONTEXTUAL LENS – What surrounds this passage?  What precedes and follows and what is the meaning and significance of this context?  This lens saves you from one of the greatest mistakes in handling the text of scripture . . . studying a text without a clear sense of the context.

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

PERSONAL LENS - How does this passage impact my life?  What is the Spirit of God impressing upon me through this text?  What is my response to God as I place my life before this truth?  This is the lens you must keep near as you work through a text . . .

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

CONTEXT OF REALITY LENS - What do we find in this text by way of an honest and real portrayal of reality?  What are the “under-the-sun” features that this text exhibits?  What seasons or situations or below the surface realities are in need of substantial healing?

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

WORD LENS– What are the words or key words (parrots) that must be given careful observation and interpretation?  How do the words themselves impact the meaning and significance of this passage and its truth?

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

STRUCTURAL LENS– For this passage what is the structure of the text?  What is the significance of this structure for interpretation?  Lay the text out in a word document and use the functions to note main and subordinate clauses / key words / linkage of thoughts etc.

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

LITERARY (STORY) LENS – What is the scene in this passage, and what is present in terms of characters, narrative, and plot?  What is to be discerned about the narrator in this passage?

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

 FALLEN CONDITION FOCUS LENS - What is found in this text that portrays the fallen, fragile, finite, or faltering condition of humanity?  To explore these dimensions see the work of Brian Chappell and Zack Eswine on the importance of this lens for teaching and preaching.

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

CULTURAL / HISTORICAL LENS –  Who is the author, original audience, time, setting, and purpose of writing that can be gathered from this scripture?  What are the discontinuities (in customs, practices, laws) between then and now AND what are the continuities (in universal kingdom history) between then and now?

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

SECONDARY SOURCES LENS– What is the take on this passage from three good commentaries?  How do these agree or disagree with your emerging understanding?  How would you defend or how have you changed your understanding?  Work with three to five good commentary sources as you prepare.  This is “the good work of others” that is a gift to ever teacher and preacher.

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

THEOLOGICAL LENS – What is revealed in this text about the nature of God?  How does this passage relate to Christ and how does Christ relate to it?  What does this text contribute to our understanding of Christ?  What in the context would connect to Him?  Finally, how does this text speak to the redemptive mission of God in the world?

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

PERSONAL LENS - Come back to this again!  How does this passage impact my life?  What is the Spirit of God impressing upon me through this text?  What is my response to God as I place my life before this truth?

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

ESSENCE LENS - Provide a succinct summary of the passage in view.  Work at declaring in a few words or sentences the essence of this text.  In some circles this is referred to as “the big idea,” but is truly all about answering the question – “What is this text seeking to say and do in the life of hearers?”

What I learned as a result of this is . . .

TEACHING LENS - As a result of what I have seen through these lenses, my first attempt or draft of a teaching framework would look like this . . .

From here you go to work on crafting the message for the audience or congregation before you . . .

Role Engagement Reflection

The gift of clarity . . . priceless!

The gift of clarity . . . priceless!

ROLE ENGAGEMENT REFLECTION

Contributed by Matt Boda

This is an opportunity to think through four specific areas of engagement related to your role.. On a separate sheet, take some significant time to pause, ponder and record your answers in various areas below. And then, let’s meet to talk through what your sense of engagement in your role.

The issue of engagement is a challenge in almost every enterprise these days.  This tool is a way of assessing the sense of engagement on the part of anyone serving on the front line.  We want to insure a good level of "get to's" . . . a reasonable perspective on "have to's" and "need to's" . . . and a valuing and promoting of "want to's."

GET TO’S

What energizes you

•     Think of the tasks, projects and experiences that are part of what you that cause you to say to yourself: WOW! I love that I get to do that!?

•     Related questions to mine for answers:

1.     What ingredients in your role most appeal to you?

2.     What are you doing that you sense brings God, you, and others great joy?

HAVE TO’S

What drains you

•     Think of the tasks, projects and experiences that are part of what you do that cause you to say to yourself: How can I manage this better or even get this off my plate?

•     Related questions to mine for answers:

1.     What ingredients in your role least appeal to you?

2.     What are you doing that brings little joy, drains you of energy, feels like a poor fit or you feel ill-equipped or capable of continuing to do?

NEED TO’S

What you tend to avoid

•     Think of the tasks, projects and experiences that you routinely avoid and consistently put off.

•     Related questions to mine for answers:

1.     What ingredients in your role do you find most difficult to do?

2.     What are you doing that you consistently struggle with and find difficult to complete? 

3.     What areas do you often find yourself referring to when you say “I need to get to that, but I would rather not!”?

WANT TO’S

What you dream about

•     Think of the tasks, projects and experiences that you find yourself dreaming about or making plans as to how you would engage in them.

•     Related questions to mine for answers:

1.     What ingredients do you wish were part of your role at this church or ministry?

2.     What are things you would love to have added to your role?

3.     What are things you’d love to do or develop if you had the time and resources?

ONE-SENTENCE JOB DESCRIPTION

In the space below, please write a draft of a one-sentence job description that you sense captures your role on our team……

Thank you to Matt Boda (Rock Pointe Calgary) for passing this on to ambrose@large.

The Five Questions of Courage

This summary is based on the work of Klein and Napier

This summary is based on the work of Klein and Napier

CANDOR:  DO WE HAVE THE COURAGE TO SPEAK AND HEAR THE TRUTH?

  • Do we raise thorny or difficult issues?

  • Are disagreements explored openly, without the team getting polarized and locked into adversarial positions?

  • During team meetings, are structures established to equalize the opportunity to receive input so that the natural tendency for the same few people to dominate does not occur?

  • Are defensiveness and skepticism acknowledged and addressed?

  • Does humor play a role in diffusing tension and helping the team not take itself too seriously?

  • Do people of diverse backgrounds feel welcome and respected as equals?

PURPOSE:  DO WE HAVE THE COURAGE TO PURSUE LOFTY AND AUDACIOUS GOALS?

  • Are charts, graphs, or performance metrics posted and visible?

  • Can people articulate their personal contribution to the core of what drives the business?

  • Is there a link between strategic, big picture goals and day-to-day performance?

  • Do teammates have an understanding of business conditions and of the wider business environment?

  • Are people willing to do the jobs that make the greatest contribution to lofty and audacious goals, even if those aren’t the jobs that are most comfortable, interesting, or enjoyable?

  • Do team goals and individual goals stretch people, challenge them, and evoke a high level of achievement motivation?

WILL:  DO WE HAVE THE COURAGE TO INSPIRE OPTIMISM, SPIRIT, AND PROMISE?

  • Do team members reflect a sense of eagerness and enthusiasm about their roles and the challenges that face them?

  • Does the team have a can-do attitude toward its work?

  • Are unexpected setbacks taken in stride based on an overall optimism about the future?

  • Is the team in a constant search for creative solutions and approaches to the problems with which they are faced?

  • Do individual team members have a general sense of optimism toward who the team is as a team and how well individuals work together?

  • Do teammates take pride in their work?

RIGOR:  DO WE HAVE THE COURAGE TO INVENT DISCIPLINES AND STICK TO THEM

  • Is there a built in expectation among team members that they will help each other learn the best practices essential to perform at the highest levels?

  • Has the team established procedures for planning, including gathering relevant data to make informed and prudent decisions?

  • Are equipment and supplies well maintained and kept in order?

  • Are rules and guidelines used to ensure the maintenance of the highest possible standards?

  • Do members of the team follow through and actually do what they say?

  • Does the team pay attention to the consequences of problem solving and decision making both within the team and in relation to other parts of the organization?

RISK:  DO WE HAVE THE COURAGE TO EMPOWER, TRUST, AND INVEST IN RELATIONSHIPS

  • Do all team members talk about team efforts with reference to “we,” or do a few individuals talk in terms of “me” or “us and them”?

  • Do team members celebrate the success of other teammates, sharing in each others’ achievements vicariously?

  • Is work delegated to the best person, with no hoarding of work as a means of control and personal entitlement?

  • Is there an atmosphere of benefit of the doubt, trust, and acceptance?

  • Do individual team members show the ability to shift their priorities based on changing urgencies and the needs of others?

  • Is time invested in building the kinds of relationships that foster trust and dedication?