In many churches the main emphasis at a worship service is to “teach” God’s Word to His people. I do this on a regular basis. The goal of teaching is that believers will become more mature in their faith as a result of knowing more. This maturity would lead to a change in the way life is approached and lived as the Christian comes to know, through God’s Word, God’s will and God’s ways better. But, as I look around I don’t see this change we are teaching for. We have well informed and even well educated believers but not transformed believers. It seems we teach to impart information but not to see transformation. This needs to change.
Here is what I believe; It is not my job as a pastor / teacher / apostle to feed the saints. A good shepherd leads his flock to green pastures so the sheep can feed themselves. But what happens in many of our teacher-centric churches is that gifted preachers, who derive great satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment from teaching God’s Word, and who measure their success by how many people come to hear them on a given Sunday, perpetrate a dysfunctional, codependent relationship with their congregations, who come week after week to receive their neatly packaged carton of milk. The Church will never grow to full maturity as long as the church is filled with immature lambs, sucking milk from their pastor week after week, year after year.
Maybe we need to redefine what it means to teach. Here is one possible working definition: Teaching is facilitating the learning of others so that they KNOW, DO, and PASS ON TO OTHERS relevant and meaningful truth. We cannot say that teaching has occurred unless the following four pieces are in place:
1> We get the message right
2> We communicate the message in an understandable way
3> We see to it that the content is applied in the lives of the students
4> We equip and release our students to teach others what they have just learned and applied
Organic multiplication – the thirty, sixty, one hundredfold return of Matthew 13:23 – can only happen when teachers carry out 100 percent of their role as seen above.
We in the Church are educated well beyond our obedience. More information and education is not the answer; we need more obedience. It is God’s design for teachers to ‘teach’ others in such a way that they can then ‘teach’ others so that the Word of God is consistently passed on to succeeding generations. Parents teaching their children, teens teaching their friends, and so on. ‘Teach’ here being defined by 1 to 4 above….
And, we all know that when the goal is to learn so as to teach that the student who will need to soon teach the new truth that has been applied learns so much more than the potential student. Thus everyone will be learning more, applying more, and growing more – not just the pulpit teacher/preacher.
This teaching approach has many benefits:
1> Everyone LEARNS the truth on a far deeper level
2> Everyone UNDERSTANDS the truth, rather than merely remembering it
3> Everyone is better equipped to PRACTICE the truth they have learned
4> Everyone OWNS the message, rather than simply knowing it
5> Everyone SPREADS the core message to others, who in turn LEARN it, UNDERSTAND it, PRACTICE it, OWN it, and SPREAD it.
That’s how the Kingdom of God multiplies into a movement. So, it is time for the way we teach to change. The teacher-pastor needs to lead his sheep into the pasture and allow them to eat, digest, and grow through the Word so that they can then be truly healthy and reproduce…teaching others!