A few years ago I found myself having to explain electrical concepts to a group of 8th and 9th graders. Everything I taught went straight over their heads. As a result, my young audience was as lost as a ball in high grass. You see, I didn’t know my audience.
On other occasions, I’ve had the deer-in-the-headlights look when I couldn’t rightly defend what I had just taught. I didn’t have a clue. I had taught my opinion rather than the standard.
We’ve all been there, and so once again, we can kneel at the Master’s feet and learn more of his teaching methods.
Jesus taught according to a standard. Christ never suggested that he came to eliminate scripture, but rather, to fully expand on its meaning. Jesus proudly held up the scriptures as the standard.
I believe that God did this because we all need something in black and white–something concrete and definitive. It’s important to be able to defend what you teach. The Bible gives us this capability, but we should do so with an attitude of humility and love.
When I say definitive, I don’t mean that it tells me exactly every step to take. For example, there is no scripture telling me that I should have married a young lady from Smith Station Alabama. But his word is sufficient in that it gave me the wisdom to make this life-changing decision.
One thing I have to be very careful about is teaching something that places an unnecessary burden on a person or that creates an unrealistic expectation in someone’s mind. We have a perfect example of this in the Pharisees. To this day, we have sects and denominations within Christianity that continue to do this very thing.
You may ask: what about the Spirit’s role in all this? And I’ll cover this in a later post. I just know from experience that my spiritual discernment is not always reliable. So thank God he has provided the Bible as the ultimate corporate policy, so to speak. It’s our most valuable check and balance for knowing and discovering God’s will.
I know–there’s still that issue of interpreting the scriptures. Don’t get me wrong in all this–there is still much about scripture that I don’t understand. But this is another reason we have the Spirit and Spirit-filled teachers and preachers.
He didn’t come to abolish the Law, but fulfill it – Matthew 5:17-19
Jesus has the words of eternal life – John 6: 68
God’s charge to Joshua – Joshua 1: 7,8
The Law of The Lord is perfect – Psalm 19
Scripture is profitable for teaching – 2 Timothy 3:16,17
Ask: Am I teaching from the standard of God’s word, or am I simply teaching my opinion and philosophy?
Idea 1: Have another group leader critique your teaching. We all have blind spots.
Idea 2: Spend time studying God’s word. Nothing beats the hard work of digging into God’s truths.
Jesus knew and prepared for his audience. All great instructors do some analysis on their audience. They carefully check the makeup of the group: Beginners or experienced? Male or female? Parents or singles? Believers or seekers? Sons or daughters? Professional or blue collar? A good deal of research should go into your students–their season in life, what they need to know and what they need to be able to do.
Jesus knew all of this perfectly, but we don’t. We still need to pray for discernment, ask questions, and get to know our group or team. To help us, God promises us His Spirit. I will talk more about the Spirit in a later post.
From a Bible-teaching standpoint, the one good thing working in our favor is the existence of the Bible as our standard. So with much study and prayer, it’s possible to know the whats–the content. And wouldn’t we all agree that God’s Word is the best content the world needs? We just have to learn how to present it so that God’s Spirit will help the learning stick and that it will become integrated into the believer’s life.
Jesus knows men’s hearts – John 2: 23-25
Trying to trap Jesus – Matthew 22:18
Jesus knew about the Samaritan woman at the well – John 4:39
He knew what Peter needed to hear – Matthew 16:18
Ask: How well do I really know the people I teach? And what do they need to know at this period in their lives?
Idea: Take some time outside of the group meeting setting and get to know your group members. Invite a member of the group to lunch or dinner. Be genuinely interested in their life.
Question: What other ways do you suggest to get to know your audience or group?