teaching


True teaching aims at life change.  I can teach an amazing lesson complete with powerpoint and handouts, but if my students haven’t changed, then have I really taught?

Knowing full well that life change is impossible without God’s intervention, there are still some things that we as teachers must do.  I call it the M.I.A. (Missing in Action) as these 3 elements are often missing in our teaching:

  • Modeling — (ME) It starts with me.  The more I change, the more I can influence others to change.  I must become what I want my students to become.  Not a perfect example, but an authentic one.
  • Involvement — (WE) I must get my class involved in the learning process.  I must learn the art of asking good questions and become more of a leader than a lecturer.  Too much of our teaching is entirely too passive.
  • Accountability — (YOU & ME) When I’m done with my lesson, I’m not done.  I must create an intentional plan of action to be done outside the classroom.  Oftentimes, teachers feel the pressure to “get through the lesson” and leave out this important step.  But good teachers follow up with their students to see if they did what they were asked to do in an environment of humility and grace.

If you’re aiming at life change, look for ways you can build these three elements into your teaching, all the while depending on the Holy Spirit to do what you cannot do.

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Jonathan Dodson:

9 Marks is running an interview series with the British, insightful Steve Timmis, co-author of Total Church. Steve’s quotation of David Fairchild regarding the pastoral advantage of dialogical preaching is worth the whole interview:

Extended monologue can cause me to think about the sermon more than I think about the gospel and the people the gospel is for.  If I think of the people, I think about how I’m going to communicate the gospel to them.  If I think of the gospel, I think about how I am going to communicate the gospel to a particular people.  If I think about a sermon, I don’t much think about either of them at worst; at best I think about them as a sort of homiletical box to check.

1 Peter 3:15 says, “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect.” (NIV)

The Center for Public Christianity, out of Australia, has an amazing website full of resources targeting the various questions unbelievers inevitably ask.  Check out the site, peruse the various topics listed below, and bookmark it for future use.  Includes a wide range of audio, video, and print materials.

Christianity

Society and Politics

The Arts

World Religions

Science and Religion

Ethics

History

Big Questions

Spurgeon and Luther sure did.  Shouldn’t we follow their example?

Spurgeon:

If I am understood by poor people, by servant girls, by children, I am sure I can be understood by others.  I am ambitious to preach for all people, especially the simple, the rag-tag, the castoffs.  I think nothing greater than to win the hearts of the lowly.

So, too, is it with regard to children.  People occasionally say of such a one, “He is only fit to teach children: he is no preacher.”  I tell you, in God’s sight, he is no preacher who does not care for the children.  There should be at least a part of every sermon and service that will suit the little ones. 

~Taken from Spiritual Parenting, (Whitaker House, 1995):

Luther:

When I preach I don’t look to the doctors and magistrates of whom there are about forty in this church.  I have an eye to the many young people, children and servants of whom there are more than two thousand.  I preach to these, addressing myself to their needs.  If other people don’t want to listen to this approach then they can always walk out!  An upright, godly and true preacher should direct his preaching to the poor, simple sort of people. 

~ Adapted from Martin Luther, Table Talk (H.G. Bohn, 1857)

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The folks at Culture Making Blog have put together (above) a beautiful diagram of biblical cross-references:

This diagram arose from a collaboration between a Carnegie-Mellon Ph.D student and a Lutheran pastor to create a grand map of Biblical cross-references: “We wanted something that honored and revealed the complexity of the data at every level –- as one leans in, smaller details should become visible. This ultimately led us to the multi-colored arc diagram… The bar graph that runs along the bottom represents all of the chapters in the Bible. Books alternate in color between white and light gray. The length of each bar denotes the number of verses in the chapter. Each of the 63,779 cross references found in the Bible is depicted by a single arc – the color corresponds to the distance between the two chapters, creating a rainbow-like effect.

My friend, Chad Nuss, puts the gospel into picture form with helpful notes and Scriptures at his blog, christoschurch.  Here’s a sampling:

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The Sunday School Revolutionary offers the positives of taking prayer requests in Sunday School as well as some helpful suggestions to avoid taking too much time:

Positives

  • Class members feel like someone cares for them
  • Class leadership has the opportunity to serve through prayer
  • Praying for each other builds community

Suggestions

  • Take requests at the end of class
  • Take written, not verbal, requests
  • Send requests out by e-mail

What do you think?  Do you have any other suggestions?

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