Having done this blog for over 10 years, I find myself going back and repeating some of my favorite stories. It has nothing to do with getting old and forgetful. Although I am getting old and forgetful. Nearly a lifetime ago, as a new student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, I signed up to preach on the streets of the French Quarter. Of all the "field mission" choices available to students--working with inner city children, hospital and nursing home ministry, jail ministry, etc.--this one, preaching on the streets, was the scariest. Therefore, it would be perfect for me. It's not that I gravitated toward the scary. Quite the opposite. I hated haunted houses, had never been up in a plane (at that time), and could not stand heights. But I wanted to learn to share my faith and knew that confronting my fears was a huge component of mastering the technique. Al Maury was our leader. About a half-dozen of us would meet on campus each Friday evening and drive the seminary's ancient Volkswagen van down to the Quarter, maybe 3 miles away. On the way, Al told us how to preach to people on the street. "We'll set up the sound system and one of us can preach while the others take tracts and go up and down the street witnessing." Al continued, "Let me tell you how to preach on the street. Do not use a prepared sermon. This is not the place for it. From the time someone walks into ear-shot til they leave is maybe 5 minutes at the most. You do not have time for a well thought-out, formal sermon. Just share the gospel and do it several times. Repeat yourself for each new group that enters your space." It was a good word. The Lord Jesus did not mind repeating Himself. After all, He was not preaching to the same congregation each time, but kept moving about the country. Furthermore, people were coming and going. Since His sanctuary tended to be a hillside in the open air, doubtless people were arriving and moving about constantly. So, it was necessary for Him to repeat lessons made earlier. But what about a congregation that is basically the same week after week? You repeat yourself to them too. The learning technique called "spaced repetition" is for everyone, young and old, weak or strong, male or female. Now, in the typical church setting, some who keep track of these things may accuse the pastor of running out of material or losing his way if he overdoes the repetition thing. Therefore, the leader of the flock must occasionally pause in declaring God's Word to remind the people of a few basic teaching techniques which he will be using.... 1) He will tell them things they already knew but of which they needed reminding. Telling them what they already know is not insulting, but complimenting them for knowing this. "If you know these things," Jesus said, "blessed are you if you do them" (John 13:17). For most, it's not the knowing they're having trouble with, but the doing. 2) He will quote people he does not agree with on a hundred points but who got something right at least once. For the pastor to quote a writer or personality does not imply he is endorsing the individual. 3) He will have a few solid gold stories which he will sometimes repeat simply because they make his point so well and he knows of none better. Since congregations are fluid--people coming and going all the time--these will be new to some people, so the oldtimers need to be patient. (I know, I know. Somehow these people feel a necessity to tell others that they have heard this story before.) 4) He will have a few basic principles of life and ministry that have forever burned themselves into his heart which he will be conveying to the congregation by means of spaced repetition. Everyone needs this. On those rare occasions when I am in the car with my grandchildren, I do what Grandpas do with these young people who are dearer to me than life: I talk to them. And I repeat myself. When they were small, they wanted repetition. I think of Grant, now 20 and in college. I would be pushing him in the front-yard swing, and he would say, "Grandpa, tell me the story about the old man hitting Tracy's car again." I might say, "Grant, you were here when it happened, and I must have told you that story a hundred times." He did not reason out exactly why he wanted Grandpa to narrate that tale again. He knew only that he wanted to hear it. So I would tell of the time he and I were at this very swing when teenager Tracy and her friend pulled up in front of her house across the street, left the car, on the side of the pavement, and went in the house. A few minutes later, an old gentleman driving down our street brushed too close to Tracy's car and knocked the side mirror off. He stopped and got out, and Tracy's family came out of the house. Grant and I stopped swinging and went over to join the crowd. The driver was 70-ish with a huge mop of white hair. He looked like life had been hard on him. As we approached, little Grant said, "Grandpa, he's going to get me." I said, "No, he's not." But he was fearful in the presence of the old man. "Hold me, Grandpa." So, I picked up my grandson and he was all right then. The family took the man's insurance information, someone shot a few pictures with a camera, and we went on with the day. But it had made an indelible impression on Grant for some reason. And he loved to be told about that day. There are stories in your life you love to tell and enjoy hearing about repeatedly. There are Bible stories that never grow old. There are sermon subjects you could listen to for hours. Tell them, preacher. Hold nothing back. "I love to tell the story. Tis pleasant to repeat what seems each time I tell it more wonderfully sweet."