Or tell and show…
“Teaching teachers how to teach,” is what I called it, The Art of Teaching class I once taught in the 1980s.
Students ranged in age from 18 to 20-something. In this small Bible college, the class contained about twenty students with only a couple of them women. All came with the essential life-changing experience of being born again. Most came believing themselves called to ministry whether as pastor, missionary, Sunday School teacher, or secular worker with a spiritual mindset. Some came seeking direction, unsure of what came next for them.
Learning lots of things, students found some subjects fascinating, some dull. Theology. Hermeneutics. Bible history. Faith. Grace vs Law. Hope. The Gospel. The Trinity. The Holy Spirit. And then this class.
My goal was to impart strategies and methods of teaching, basic practical ways to connect with people of all ages, ways to relate and communicate the gospel from a pulpit, a kindergarten or a factory floor.
Methods ranged from incorporating flannel-graphs to handouts to overhead projectors to skits to field work. Non-verbal communication was a big hit. “She was a pretty girl.” Try that with emphasis on separate words, or eye movement, or grimace, or pauses, or changes of inflection.
Prepare yourself, not your sermon, I told them. Pray. Ask the Lord what he wants to say. Study, make an outline, pray again. Choose scripture passages, illustrations, personal examples, pray more.
Get the message in your heart and not just on your paper. By your final outline, you’ll know it so well you may not need the outline. Then open your mouth and let the Holy Spirit fill it.
One class assignment was to imagine yourself as a Bible-time object, then write a first-person narrative describing a day in the “life” of that object. For those less than creatively imaginative, I offered a list of suggestions: A plank of wood in the town Jesus grew up in. A brick in the floor of a synagogue. A sycamore tree along the streets of Jericho.
The papers were remarkable. Several were humorous, others serious, a few poignant and heart-felt. Many were works of art. How well the students conveyed their story told me, unlike any exam could ever do, how successfully I had reached my goal.
Our essential text for the course was the gospels, our prime example Jesus the Teacher. Raised in the small town of Nazareth just up the hill from a busy trade route, the Great Trunk Road section of Via Maris, (see http://www.bible-history.com/geography/ancient-israel/nazareth.html) he learned a trade that took him out into the community, getting to know people. Making friends, and possible future disciples… (see https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2008/03/19/strangers/)
By the time he began his ministry, Jesus was a master at connecting and communicating with people from every walk of life. Well versed in the scriptures, he offered synagogue teachings on the Sabbath. On week days he preached sermons on every imaginable subject to crowds on mountain sides. Everywhere he went, he demonstrated with signs and miracles the truth of what he said — the kingdom of God is at hand.
His messages to followers while walking back and forth from Galilee to Jerusalem were filled with illustrations from the landscape, even when accompanying the disciples on touristy tours around the temple. Dinner tables opened conversations with wealthy tax collectors.
He could discuss weather signs with farmers or religious doctrine with Pharisees, even give work advice to Roman soldiers. Fishing boats or temple grounds, any and all locales provided appropriate lessons. Jesus didn’t pass up any opportunity.
And neither should we, was my point. Observe. take note and take notes. Study what Jesus did and see how he did it, then do what Jesus did. Listen to the Holy Spirit. Talk with people. Relate, communicate and minister. Prepare your heart and you’ll do it well.
Scriptures to browse:
The Holy Spirit will teach you and remind you – John 14:26
Teaching others to teach also – II Tim. 2:2
The farmer must be first partaker of his fruit – II Tim. 2:6
You can’t give what you don’t have – Acts 3:6