Disclaimer: This blog
is from a pastor, with a very slow learning curve, who has finally started
trying to follow the revolutionary plan of his Master.
your biggest ongoing challenge in ABF ministry? Is it keeping leaderships teams
in place? Is it encouraging member care within the ABFs? Those are biggies for
me, but the one I really sweat is having enough qualified teachers.You’ve had the dreaded call that one of your
teachers has to “step away for a time.” This usually means for the rest of
their natural life. The issue is not just finding a replacement, but a
replacement who buys into the ABF ideal of participatory learning. I’ve found
that many people who are willing to teach have one basic approach … lecture.
individuals are truly gifted in this area and to be honest many ABF attenders
prefer to be static learners. Simply put, people like to be in the position of
“expert” and people like to learn from “experts.” It’s gratifying to walk away
from Sunday morning reveling in some new insight, some startling Scriptural
nuance that you can use to impress your Christian friends. I’ll admit that I’m
a recovering expert … but the more I see the effects of this style of teaching,
the more I believe it disserves our people. Let me be clear that I’m not
referring to the pulpit ministry. Authoritative proclamation is a legitimate,
Biblical and needed type of communication. It’s just that we need something
different at the ABF hour. You know the old adage, “Give a man a fish and you
feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” I
believe well-rounded adult education must include both proclamation that feeds
and coaching that teaches people to feed themselves. ABFs should focus on
creating people who can open God’s Word and teach themselves and others.
church’s dearth of qualified teachers convinced me that I should be personally
discipling a few new teachers every year. After all, individual discipleship of
a few men was Jesus’ revolutionary strategy for reaching the world. Certainly,
Jesus did proclamation in large groups, but most of his time seems to have been
focused on discipling the twelve.It was
in the close fellowship that he said “The secret of the kingdom of God has been
given to you.” Mk 4:11 It was to this smaller group that he basically said do
for others what I have done for you … “Go and make disciples.” Mt 28:19 Jesus
revolutionary plan worked then … it still works today. I know I haven’t said
anything radically profound, but let me share what happened when I tried to put
this into practice.
first subjects were four couples in their twenties. All were involved in
ministry and all of the husbands had expressed some sense of calling to
vocational Christian service. I decided to start with a simple inductive Bible
study. I gave each couple a totally bare copy of Mark; no cross references, no
footnotes, no paragraph headings and certainly no study notes. I called our
experiment “The unMARKed Gospel.” Each couple was assigned two passages that
they would prepare and eventually teach. I encouraged them to mine the book of
Mark for all that could plainly be discovered without outside sources. They had
wide margins in their copies of Mark where they were to record questions they
had of the text and questions they would ask their future hearers. We had
subsequent group and individual meetings to discuss their passages prior to
public delivery. Finally, I had them team-teach the study to one of our small
things startled me as I observed their teaching:
• First they were all very good! Not one of
their lessons was a bomb. I remembered internally shaking myself and asking,
“Why haven’t you done this before?”
• Next, I was surprised at how revolutionary
the inductive study style seemed to these young couples. They spoke effusively
about how meaningful it had been for them to discover the text without the
assistance of study aids. They seemed amazed that they could understand God’s
Word without all the extra-biblical helps. All of them verbally commended this
study style to the group.
• However, none of them taught in a way that
encouraged this inductive style of learning. Somewhere between the process of
digging deep into the text and teaching the text, they had miraculously become
experts. They quoted John MacArthur, James McDonald and shared deep insights
into the historical and cultural nuances that informed the text. None of it was
bad, but the average hearer might have thought, “I can’t understand God’s Word
… I’m not an expert.”
are the corollary lessons I took away from this experience:
• Christ really has given the Church teachers
“to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may
be built up.” Eph 4:12 The real issue is that we often fail to discover,
develop and deploy the people he has given.
• Some foundational methods that pastors take
for granted are revolutionary to the people we serve. All too many learners
have inferred from the multitude of expert Bible teachers that God’s Word is a
coded book only to be handled by professionals.
• Finally, you are discipling future teachers
whether you do so intentionally or not. I was greatly convicted by what I heard
from those new teachers. I knew they had, in part, picked up the stance of
“expert” from me. I’ve rededicated myself to teaching in such a way as to
clearly display the perspicuity of God’s Word. I want people to leave my ABF
knowing better how to feed themselves and others from Scripture. And I will
endeavor to disciple a few new teachers every year.
Submitted By: Jon
Wiziarde.Jon has been on staff at Christ Community
Church in Zion, Illinois for 18 years, serving as the Pastor of Adult
Ministries. I’ve been responsible for ABFs since we adopted that ministry model
in 1999. Sue and I are currently transitioning into fulltime missionary service
with Converge Worldwide and will be establishing churches in Panama City,
Panama for English-speaking internationals.
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