by David Apple
I am always interested in learning ways we can improve Bible teaching whether in a Sunday School class, small group, or one on one. Although there are many faithful Bible teachers who have influenced us, I am amazed at what we learn and rediscover by observing Jesus as a life-changing teacher. Among other things, we learn there are three dynamic ways we can improve teaching by learning from and following Jesus:
- We need to know WHAT we are teaching. We are to teach God’s Word. We need to know the God of the Scripture and be in relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus. We need to know the truth that comes from God through His Word. We are not the experts, but we depend on the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us as well as the group as we investigate and apply the truth of God’s Word.
We are to investigate the CONTENT of the Scripture passage(s). We must understand the importance of the message and meaning of the Scripture. We are not merely to discuss what we think it means or what we want it to mean.
We are to identify the CONTEXT of the passage. Take time to discover the background (including culture, location, people, history, and setting) that relates to the passage.
Grow in understanding of WHAT we are to teach by spending time in God’s Word, reading commentary and explanation of key words, phrases, concepts, and background information in resources available. Lifeway provides resources like the Leader Guide, Personal Study Guides and Daily Discipleship Guides, Biblical Illustrator, as well as other valuable helps like WordSearch.
2. We need to know WHO we are teaching. It is obvious that we need to know basic personal facts about each person (name, address, birth date, other special dates). It is also important for the teacher to learn and develop caring connection with persons regarding other life defining aspects: life stage, spiritual journey, family, background, interests, challenges. Yes, we teach facts, but we also teach people.
Jesus masterfully modeled ways to teach a wide variety of individuals and groups. There are people today in many ways like those Jesus taught. We are to teach those who have Christian heritage as well as those who have never heard the message of God’s good news. We are to teach those who identify as experts as well as those who are trapped or are running from God’s grace.
3. We need to know HOW to teach. A relatively small number of Bible teachers have been trained as professional educators. But every Bible teacher needs to know how to use appropriate skills, methods, and ways to guide people to discover and apply God’s Word. There are many teachers who know the facts (WHAT) but don’t engage potential learners. There are many teachers who know and nurture the participants (WHO) but are not always intentional in leading the persons to uncover the truth of God’s Word and relate it to their lives. The Master Teacher modeled dynamic and life changing teaching to the point most individuals or groups seldom noticed the teaching methods or processes. Yet, they encountered God’s Word and were transformed through the Scripture and the encounter with God through His Son. We will grow in an amazement of teaching methods as well as skills used by a life changing teacher by reviewing the methods Jesus used, whatever and whoever He taught. Masterful!
I join you in celebrating that we can grow in these three dynamic ways of learning from the Master, the life-changing teacher.