Jump Start # 3112
Matthew 28:20 “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
The core component of Christianity is teaching. God sent out His servants not to build homes, dig irrigation ditches or feed the homeless. They were preachers of God’s word. Our faith is wrapped around a message that is taught and we believe that message. Teaching God’s word, from young ages all the way up through adults until God calls us home. Teaching takes place in the home. Teaching takes place one on one. Teaching takes place in our public Bible classes.
Two things are very common in so many congregations today when it comes to teaching. First, many are reluctant to step up and teach. Second, and this may be the reason for the first, is that many have never been shown how to teach. Handed a class book and pointed towards a classroom, the one teaching feels overwhelmed, scared and unsure. It’s even worse when it comes to teaching an adult class. Very few like teaching an auditorium class full of adults. The challenges can be great. Once the quarter of classes ends, many a teacher says to himself, “never again.” And, never again is what takes place.
We need to help people feel comfortable, confident and useful as a teacher of God’s word. Here are a few thoughts:
First, teaching children is not the same as teaching adults. Teaching little kids is not the same as teaching middle school or high school aged children. Some are good at one and not so good at others. Because one can teach one age group does not mean that he can teach all the age groups. Children talk. Adults stare. Children will shout out answers, even obvious ones. Adults stare in silence.
Second, the atmosphere on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening is totally different. For children, on Sunday mornings, many are sleepy and not very alert. On Wednesdays they are charged up and ready to go. For the adults, it’s just the opposite. After a long day of work on Wednesday, many adults are tired and lifeless. On Sunday mornings, they are more alert and engaged.
Third, there are always challenges to teaching. For the young children’s classes, it’s keeping them in their seats and focused. One class clown can take the class over and it quickly becomes a headache for the teacher. It’s best for the teacher to have a helper in the smaller classes. One can quickly see which children are respectful and have had lessons at home and those who have not.
For the adults, there is the one in class who wants to dominate. He does all the talking. He answers all the questions. Everyone sits in silence, because they know this one person will do all the talking for them. The teacher cannot let one dominate nor take over the class. Some what to teach from their seat without being the official teacher. Others want to challenge the teacher and think it’s cute to put the teacher on the spot or in the hot chair. Their goal is to be controversial and stump the teacher. And, rather than lowering the nets into God’s word and deepening our faith, the class turns into a debate session and people feel frustrated.
The teacher must teach. The teacher must control the class and the flow of the class. Rather than allowing the same person to do all the talking, pick someone else to read a passage or to answer a question. Keep the flow moving. Don’t get bogged down chasing rabbits that have nothing to do with the topic being studied. The bottom line is that you are teaching God’s word and that must be done.
Fourth, some teachers fear running out of things to talk about. The solution to this is to have much more material than you will use. It is better to have too much than not enough. So, the teacher must be busy during the week doing his homework and getting his notes prepared so he can teach.
Finally, it would be helpful to spend some time helping teachers learn how to teach. Lecturing adults is not the same as with children. Asking questions that are so obvious usually gets no response. Team teaching with someone more experienced and can share some tips is helpful. Watching how others teach is very useful.
Our verse today shows the emphasis Jesus placed upon teaching. New disciples were to be taught. That continues on today. In many ways, more good can come from classes than from sermons. Classes need to be practical, Biblical, useful and informative.
God bless all the men and women in the kingdom who teach. You are making a difference.