'Best Practices' for Bible Teachers (Part VIII)
By Buddy Hanson The Covenant News
Teacher, Teach Yourself!
To present biblical truths without the context of God's overarching concepts is to be an announcer for God, not a teacher. Think back to those occasions when you are sitting in a class, instead of teaching it, and I'm sure you will agree that the most effective teachers are those that go to great lengths to connect the new material to material that is already familiar to you. No topic, including God's Word, should be taught in isolation of related concepts. So, by connecting the information in each particular message to an overarching concept, you are helping your learners determine:
which things are more important than other things,
how to incorporate them into their worldview and lifestyle,
and why they must do so.
Remember, your number one job as a Bible teacher is to transfer
your knowledge to your learners so they can live-out their faith by
providing a daily testimony to their neighbors of the biblically
correct way to live, raise their families, work and govern themselves. Since the vast majority of Christians have not been instructed in how
to do this, their view of the world more closely resembles that of
their non-Christian neighbors than it does the biblical ethics in
which they profess to believe. This means that when they attend a
Bible study, or a worship service, their main concern is to learn more
about God, so they can find an area in their lifestyle that they can
"add-on" this new godly knowledge. Their motivation is to become a
"better person" in one or more parts of their lifestyle, instead of
becoming a completely "different (holy) person" in all parts of their
lifestyle. Even though the motivation to "improve" various parts of
one's lifestyle sounds commendable, and even though we would have an
"improved culture" if every Christian did this, the truth is that God
has called us into His family and Christ's Kingdom "Christianize" our
culture, not merely improve it. Besides, if our motivation is to
become a better moral person, rather than a completely holy person, we
will likely be tempted to pick and choose particular biblical ethics
which most conveniently fit our current lifestyle, while putting
others on the back burner of our minds to "get back to" at some point
in the future. Think about it: Does being a Christian mean that we
should strive to present an improved version of the way we lived as a
non-Christian, or does it mean that we are live like the completely
new ethical person we are, from the inside out? Of course, we all know
that when Paul tells us to "put off" the old man, and "put on" the new
man he is not suggesting that we put on a new biblically ethical
shirt, and/or a new biblically ethical pair of socks, but that we have
a life-long goal of completely undressing ourselves of our former
ethics, and replacing them with biblical ethics. This raises a key
question for every Bible teacher, whether you are a pastor, small
group leader, or a parent.
What opportunity does this message/lesson provide for me to challenge my learners to turn their entire lives over to Jesus, instead of only parts of their lives?
I don't know of a single "pat answer" to this critical question
(please feel free to send me your suggestions), but I do know this: As
Bible teachers, we are God's "watchmen" for our learners, and have
the same two-fold objective facing us with every message or lesson:
1. Bring to the learners attention some false presupposition upon which they may be unintentionally basing a current biblical interpretation of how they should be living. 2. Provide explicit examples on how to apply the biblical ethics in this message to their daily situations and circumstances.
Each lesson provides us with an opportunity to assist learners in
"putting off" their former, non-Christian ethics, and to "put on"
Christian ethics. Since non-Christians dismiss the idea of receiving
supernatural wisdom for living, they place their emphasis on
education. When John Dewey was selling the idea of the need for a
public school system, he said that such a universal system of
education would "empty our jails within a couple of generations."
We all recognize that the ranks of both Christians and non-Christians
are filled with brilliant and not-so-brilliant people. The difference,
then, between a Christian and a non-Christian lifestyle is not how
intelligent a person is, but how wise he is. Paul teaches us that "the
wisdom of the world is foolishness with God," but we, by God's
grace, have had His Law written on our heart by the Holy Spirit.
This means that God not only enables us to correctly understand His
Word, but also motivates us to obey it!
Our purpose as Bible teachers is to transfer God's wisdom from the
pages of His inerrant Word to the hearts of our learners so they will
be able to demonstrate His "wisdom to their neighbors each day" with
the result that they will say, "surely these Christians are a wise and
understanding people." As we go about this most important task, we
must also be careful to resist the temptation to "edit" God's message
in order to make it more palatable to our learners. Our duty is to
always present the whole counsel of God, and then trust-in His
sovereignty to bring about His intended results.
"Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." Acts 20-26-28
Next week our topic is, "Remind Your Learners of Who They Are!"
 Isaiah 49.18; 58.12; Matthew 16.18; Luke 19.13; John 17.15; 2
 Ephesians 4.22-24
 Ezekiel 33.7-8
 See "How to De-Program Yourself from All the Blasphemous Things You Learned in Public School," Buddy Hanson, (Hanson Group, 2009), which should be available this Spring.
 1 Corinthians 3.19
 Jeremiah 31.33; Ezekiel 11.19-20; Hebrews 8.9-10
 Philippians 2.12-16
 Deuteronomy 4.6
Buddy Hanson is President of the Christian Policy Network and Director of the Christian Worldview Resources Center and has written several books on the necessity of applying one's faith to everyday situations, circumstances and decision-making.