in pursuit of jesus
a blog about student ministry, multimedia ministry, and leadership

Teaching from the first person…

Sunday night, I decided to try something different.  Rather than teaching Jonah straight from the Bible, I updated the story and taught it from the first person.  

I=Jonah, Las Vegas=Ninevah, etc.  I started out by saying a couple of years ago, God called me to go to Las Vegas and tell the people to repent from their sins.  But I had no desire to go there.  I didn’t like the people there.  Las Vegas is known for gambling, prostitution, clubs, etc.  It even has the nickname “Sin City.”  Just the thought of it makes me want to throw up.  So I headed on a cruise ship in the opposite direction.  

But after we got out to sea, a terrible storm hit.  All the people were praying to their gods and checking the weather reports hoping that they would survive.  I finally came forward and told them that I was the reason for the storm.  I explained to them that I was running from God and that I needed to be thrown overboard.  The crew insisted that they try throwing the luggage overboard first.  After doing that, they realized that it wasn’t helping.  Finally, the crew threw me overboard.  When I hit the water, my equilibrium was gone.  I had no clue what was up or what was down.  The storm threw me back and forth and I could see nothing.  As I started to sink towards the bottom, I felt a huge amount of suction and I was swallowed by a gigantic fish.  When I came to, I realized that I was alive.  As I lay in the belly of the fish, I prayed to God thanking Him for saving me.  (At this point, Lance yelled out, “You’re my hero!”  He had no clue that I was telling the story about Jonah.)  God caused the fish to vomit me onto the beach.  

I washed myself off and headed towards Las Vegas.  After arriving at Vegas, I toured the city.  Sin was all over the place.  I preached the word from God that the city would face destruction in 40 days.  To my surprise, the mayor heard what I said and called a fast for all the people and animals.  They all repented of their sins.  I found a place that overlooked the city to see what God would do.  After sitting their for a while, a shade tree miraculously sprouted up giving me relief from the 110 degree heat.  The next day, I woke up and took my post under the shade tree.  I noticed a worm on the tree, but I didn’t think much about it.  By noon the worm had eaten enough of the tree to cause it to shrivel up.  The scorching heat was unbearable, and I prayed that God would kill me.  God asked me, “Is it right for you to be angry about this tree?”  I said, “Sure it is, I even want to die rather than spend anymore time in this heat.”  God said, “You are concerned about a tree, how much more so am I concerned with a city that has 120,000 people in it.”  Because the people turned away from God, He did not destroy the city.

I explained how that was a true story but it was not about me.  It was about Jonah.  Here are the three lessons from Jonah:  

  1. You can’t outrun God.
  2. God has mercy on people who repent.
  3. We should have more concern for the lost than our own comfort.

Teaching from the first person challenges me to get inside the thoughts of the main character.  I also find that it flows better that reading it from the Bible.  It can also give you a different way of teaching a classic Bible story.  The downside is that the students may not follow you when you try to explain how it is a true story from the Bible brought up to date.  I also find that the names may get lost in the shuffle.  During the small group time, the students were referring to Las Vegas rather than Ninevah.  We had fun with it and I will probably try it again some time.  Do you have a favorite way of teaching the Bible that you have heard or tried?

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3 Responses to “Teaching from the first person…”

  1. That’s awesome Bro! I heard a preacher preach from Hosea in the first person. He spoke as if he was Hosea. It was very powerful.
    Excellent job man. I’m sure the teens got a lot from that message.

  2. Great idea!! It is vitally important to be a great story teller for youth. Jesus was the best story teller, it would make sense for us to follow suit. If we can make the truth of God’s Word come to life in the lives of students there is no telling what can happen and what God will do.

  3. Justin all the kids that came home with my kids were still talking about the message and acting it out in the house. Mikey came in and said right away how good it was and Brooke was talking about something and couldn’t quit laughing. Anyhow, I appreciate all you do for my kids and others.


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