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Monday, April 25, 2016

No Place for Teachers

I went to a church some years ago where the pastor seemed to preach from the Bible, but everything else was not. They had classes on finances and studies on books about the Bible, but very little in the way of actual Bible studies. I asked the pastor, "Do you have anything that teaches your congregation to dig deeper into the Bible?" He showed me this array of "book clubs". "No," I said, "I mean where they actually dig into the Bible." He looked at me and said, "I don't know what you mean." I took a different tack. "In your interaction with other churches in the area, do you find that they're all like this, or do others have things like Bible studies and the like?" "They're all pretty much the same," he answered.

It's a strange time. I remember there once was a day when we had home Bible studies and we had teachers. I ask people today who are leading these groups and they tell me, "I'm not the teacher; I'm the facilitator." One might think that they had taken James to heart where he said "Let not many of you become teachers" (James 3:1) if it wasn't for the fact that so few seem to know the Scriptures anymore. I suppose it's because it sounds so humble. "Oh, I don't teach; I facilitate." Interesting, since I do find references to people who are gifted as teachers, but nothing like "facilitators" (in the sense they're using it). All of the churches I've attended for the past 10 years have had a "Ladies' Bible Study" which was book club rather than a Bible study. They would have a book of interest to women that would teach Christian things. Some even taught about things in the Bible. But I can't remember the last time I saw a "Women's Bible Study" where women studied the Bible. And the pastor at that church I spoke of said that this is the norm, not the exception.

We seem to have arrived at a "kinder, gentler" Christianity where only the extreme few actually deign to teach the Word. Lots of reasons, I'm sure. "I don't have enough education" or "I don't want to appear proud" or "No one wants to hear what I see in Scripture." Most commonly I think it is the fear of appearing arrogant. So we step down to allow other teachers, teachers not actually present, teachers from books or study guides or both, and we make sure that we get "good teaching" without actually engaging teacher to learner, discipler to discipled, those gifted with the gift of teaching with those desperately in need of knowing the Word.

Scripture says that God gives the Church teachers (among other roles) "to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes." (Eph 4:12-14) Given the current state of the Body of Christ where we are marked as those tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, immature in the faith, subject to human cunning and schemes, I would suggest that the Church today isn't making use of those teachers.

If you are a teacher of the Word, you are a teacher by way of a gift from the Holy Spirit. Do it. If you have a good teacher of the Word in your life, thank God. If you don't have such a teacher, find one. They're not easy to find these days, what, with all the humility going around that argues that "I'm not good enough to be a teacher" despite the Holy Spirit's gifting. I personally think it takes more arrogance to question the Holy Spirit's gifting than it does to thank Him for giving that gift to some. Most importantly, we need to love the Word that God has given us. Anything less than sincere, lifelong study and learning of that Word is a slap in the face of the One who gave it. And we need teachers for that.


Anonymous said...

I would argue that humility is a basic starting place for anyone who'd want to teach.

Stan said...

I would argue further that humility is a basic starting place for all Christians (Phil 2:1-8). Humility is essential. But there is false humility (like "No one would want to hear what I have to say on this Scripture.") and there is even arrogant humility (which, by definition, is false humility as well) (for instance, "The Holy Spirit gave me the gift of teaching, but I know better than to use it.").

Bob said...

every one wants humility to be on their christian resume, great,,, but how about some boldness. if everyone would just stop looking in the mirror to determine how their humility quotient is doing, maybe we could get something done around here. One of the problems with the teaching subject is that those that have the gift; either don't want to teach or they have no forum to teach. so we are left with those that want to teach that should not. nothing like listening to a Sunday school teacher with a fifth grade reading level expounding upon why we need to speak in our special spiritual language, all the while hoping to achieve a higher metaphysical conscienceless. bring on the coolaid..
i have determined that it would be a good idea to start with Romans. just to get the facts sorted out. then study the Gospel of John. this is because Romans unlocks many of the mysteries of the John. just spit balling . oh by the way i am tired of being humble, i think it is time to kick ass and take names in the class room.