One of the great challenges facing the church today is raising up excellent Bible teachers. Some teachers are content to do a “data dump” on their class, leaving them overwhelmed with information but uninspired to do anything with it. Other teachers give passionate speeches with very little substance, so lives are equally unaffected in the long term.
The best teacher training I have seen so far comes from the late Dr. Howard Hendricks. His video course, The Seven Laws of the Teacher, though dated, is full of valuable insight from a man with several decades of teaching experience at Dallas Theological Seminary.
Today, I came across an excerpt from one of Dr. Hendricks’ books called Mastering Teaching.
Here are a few highlights paraphrased by me:
- Good teaching is not simply communicating information but “causing to learn.” The Greek and Hebrew verbs for teaching include the idea that the teacher must be concerned with the student’s learning, not just the delivery of content.
- Good teaching requires the continual learning of the teacher. The ability to independently study and “rightly divide” God’s Word is essential for teachers who will be dynamic and effective, not simply restating curriculum.
- Good teaching looks different depending on the students. A great children’s teacher might make a lousy college teacher and vice versa. Poor teaching performance may simply require a change of audience to be more effective.
“The best training is being done by the cults.”
This was the answer of an IBM training coordinator when asked by Dr. Hendricks about the best teachers. Cults often train people in sets of two with one experienced member leading a recruit. When the recruit is ready, they are tasked with training another recruit and the cycle continues.
Of course, this is not unique to cults. In the Bible, Jesus told His followers to make disciples and teach them to obey everything He commanded. Unfortunately, modernism and other factors led to a programmatic, curriculum and classroom-oriented approach to Christian discipleship. As a result, individual mentoring has become somewhat rare in Western Christian circles.
The goal for those of us who teach God’s Word must include mentoring others one-on-one to do the same. We must model what “causing to learn” looks like, engage in lifelong learning, and know our best fit in teaching ministry to be effective and reproduce effective teachers.