I’m big on purpose-focused planning: Planning of messages, planning of events, planning of small group curriculum, etc. – all formed directly around the outcome(s) needed most by the audience(s). There’s not enough of this in collegiate ministry or in ministry as a whole, as far as I can tell.

But letting form serve function doesn’t mean we can’t also accomplish other purposes along the way, especially when it comes to teaching. Once our main points and outline are constructed, there are often ways to pepper our messages (or writing) with items that accomplish our ongoing purposes for our students.

For instance, we want our students to be great at biblical interpretation, right? Anytime we teach on the Bible, we have a chance to teach biblical interpretation… even when our message’s “topic” isn’t “How to Interpret the Bible Well.” We can explain how we worked through certain passages; we can illustrate our methods right in front of the students; we can make sure always to point them to resources that can be used in their own interpretive efforts.

Or perhaps we’ve established an overall purpose this year to encourage our students to serve their city. Sure, we might want the “backbone” of this effort to include a message series and a small group book on that topic. But even when we’re not teaching on that topic directly, we can still teach on that topic – in the stories we use to illustrate our other topics, the “asides” we work into our teaching at appropriate places, etc..

Of course, when it comes down to it, this is still being purpose-focused. But it recognizes that beyond our primary purposes, our (ongoing) secondary purposes can often be planned around, too.

(And kinda-sorta, the first paragraph of this blog post practices what I’m preaching here… So meta!)