Teaching is an exacting form of communication. Based on a biblical foundation, teaching in the church is an essential element in enabling people outside the church to understand the truth of the Christian faith and inside the church to instruct believers to grow in Christian maturity. Successful teaching in the church also involves more than our content alone, but it also involves the character of the teacher.
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. . . . . . if it is teaching, let him teach (Romans 12:3-7, italics mine).
If the lives of our people are not reflecting the kind of Christian maturity we would like to see, if we find ourselves lamenting their lack of basic biblical knowledge among Christians today—it is instructive for leaders in the church to examine what their people are actually being taught.
We have at most, a couple of hours each week to teach, and it might serve us well to look at how we use those precious minutes. Some considerations:
- How much time is spent actually sharing content, solid Biblical content?
- How much time is spent giving Biblical background and Biblical application?
- How much time is spent putting the Biblical narrative in a historical context?
- How much time is spent sharing your personal opinion of the lesson and associated topics?
- How much time is spent sharing your past life experiences or recent domestic dramas?
The Apostle Paul is an instructive example here to contemporary folks who seem compelled to share every detail of their childhood and the weekly status of their marriage in a time theoretically set aside for the teaching of God's Word.
Paul most certainly would have had some incredible stories to share. Stephen was only one of many whose death he facilitated. Did he have nightmares about the families he threw into prison, the lives he destroyed? His relationship with his family, who paid to have him study with Gamaliel, and who had proudly watched him become a "Hebrew of Hebrews" only to turn into a Christian evangelist most likely would have yielded some colorful stories.
But we know nothing of them. His focus was not on public therapy sessions of sharing, but instead:
"One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things (Phillipians 3:13-15)."
Immaturity in any Christian teaching situation is evident when the teacher's focus is on his or her past, personal experiences, and pain. People do not come to church to get to know the pulpit personality; they come to see Jesus.
We have so little time to teach the truths that can change lives for time and eternity, as church communicators, if we are called to teach God's Word, we should teach.