As a first time teacher in Church, I have met with some level of success. Why, you ask? I am motivated and seek to be prepared. As a first time teacher in Church, I have also met with some level of failure. Why, you ask? I wasn’t motivated enough and I hadn’t sought to be prepared enough. Make sense? Let me explain…
I started out with what I believed were some of the correct things to ponder. I believe we should continually be asking ourselves with each ‘to-be’ action, things like, “Whom do we seek to serve” with this action, statement, or question. In my heart of hearts I believe that question when adequately asked and answered is among the best we can consider. Honestly folks, if you haven’t thoroughly thought through why you’re doing what you’re about to do, and who this will impact, and the circumstances that surround it, you’re not ready to take a forward step.
In my case, there were many facets to the decision to offer an Adult Sunday School class. Yes…. I asked myself Who would I be serving. In case you missed the capitalization of the word “Who” in the sentence prior, that should give you the key to the answer. I seek to glorify God with my work. Not because of a flawed interpretation of something like the “Faith + Works” model, but rather, because this is my mandate. I’m only doing what is commanded of me.
In this case though, just as He intended, there are wonderful and fulfilling benefits from carrying oneself in the manner He lays out before us. All the while glorifying Him, I can offer my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ food for thought. I dig and delve into the Word of God, learning and seeking the vital context behind each bit of scripture. This experience has truly been a transmogrification for me. I can assure you, you’re not going to offer a valuable class by simply reading the prompts on a bible study lesson guide. Sure, you can read it off the paper, and it’ll make sense, but you won’t apply yourself to the work and Word. Your students will know this without even having to think through it. …And do you know what students do when they see a teacher that doesn’t do the work? That’s right. They don’t do the work either.
Another beautiful thing from teaching are some of what I’d call the ancillary benefits. When you’re in the Word, you’re not in everything else that is crappy with the modern culture. You’re not arguing on social media or being corrupted with the nastiness with which we’ve become accustomed. What you ARE doing, is showing your significant other what you’re made of. You in turn are showing your children what they ‘ought’ to be doing as well. You’re reading, researching, and contemplating. Aren’t these the things we expect for our children? You can’t possibly expect them to do any of this if you’re unwilling to do it yourself. What better way to lead your children than ways such as this?
Once you ask the question and can answer it properly regarding Whom we seek to serve, there comes another set of parameters. This is often a touchy subject, but one we are duty bound to consider as He lays it out before us. Are you a woman or are you a man, as built by God? Why does this matter? 1 Timothy 2:8-15… That’s why. Women are not to ‘Teach’ over the public Church service. Did Priscilla and Aquilla both instruct Apollos in Acts 18? Yes, but not in the middle of a Worship Service. Today we have a feminist view creeping into the interpretation of these verses. Frankly, we’re often looking through the wrong end of the telescope in these matters. Does the Bible prove to us spiritual equality? Certainly. You can find and prove that in any number of places, Old and New Testament alike. Deuteronomy, Exodus, Number, Genesis, John, 1 Peter, etc. But the church in Ephesus had a specific problem to deal with and Paul addressed it in his letter to Timothy.
Here’s the thing. When I wrote that people were looking through the wrong end of the telescope on this issue earlier, that’s exactly what I meant. We’re approaching the subject of women not preaching from the pulpit as an inequality directed towards women. That’s not it at all. We’re not kicking women to the curb. Rather, this is a call to men to get off their duffs and fill that role. There is a responsibility for men to do these things, and quite frankly, they’re not. Think about it. If there is something in your home that isn’t getting done, I’d just about bet money that the woman of the household will eventually handle it. God knows our predilections. There is a specific reason that the second half of 1 Tim 2, harkens back to the original sin. And in case you haven’t read Genesis lately, it wasn’t Eve who committed the original sin. It was Adam. A good number of people have that one all wrong, which blows my mind, but it is true nonetheless. So, if you plan on becoming a female Pastor, you should rethink it. Offering your desire to lead a Sunday School class, or just about any other form of edification short of preaching from the public pulpit? You go, girl!
Short version? Women, stay out from behind the pulpit, but let that be your only teaching restriction. Men, you’re the reason we’re in this mess, so step up and fix it. Adam watched as the serpent corrupted Ever, all while doing nothing. The original sin is Adam’s, thus the emphasis on men stepping up into roles they know they should fill.
That was a quick and rugged explanation and someday I’ll offer a full blog on that subject – The Original Sin and a Woman’s Limitation in Church – but for now, let’s move forward. There are obvious questions that come next. How will I teach? What will I teach? Where will I teach? Who will I teach? These are all considerations.
WHAT TO TEACH?
I chose to teach an adult Sunday School class, but it might be different for you. Will you pick up a bible and go out to the homeless or drug-addicted in your community? You may have safety or preparedness and logistical concerns to overcome in some circumstances. Will you offer a class online or a social media page? Will this be done through an existing church? What parameters or prerequisites do they have? Are their constraints or guidelines biblical? Too many churches are abandoning the Word and embracing the corrosion of western culture in an effort to attract or retain their members. If you’re not prepared to offer the Word, despite the consequences, you should seriously reconsider your path. Nobody, at no place, said this was going to be easy. You will face challenges and you’ll get your ass handed to you. No joke. However, if you commit to offering the Word, you don’t have to be too concerned with the opinions of others. This places a very heavy emphasis on a proper understanding of the Word too, if you haven’t figured that out by now. I’ll touch on that in a bit.
HOW TO TEACH?
I prefer a face-to-face real-time dialogue, personally. I believe there is no better way. The idea of accountability and direct contact can’t be tossed aside, and when you offer your work from afar, it is diminished (as I write in a blog without a two-way real-time dialogue – hypocrisy much Michael?). I think, possibly, I can justify my blog yet today, as I began it years ago, more to purge and consider, while offering others something to ponder as well. This blog still remains that for me, and I don’t consider this blog, truly, in any way a ‘teaching’ platform. I’m sharing and thinking out loud. No more, no less. Face-to-face is key and should be your preference, especially if you’re a newbie. I seriously doubt you could have a great deal of success as a rookie teacher if you were teaching in a one-way method. So, whether that be face-to-face in a literal sense, or through zoom, or another method electronically, you should prepare yourself for the personal contact associated with the instruction.
WHERE ARE MY SUPPORTS?
I was honored to have a 95% complete set of the MacArthur New Testament commentary lent to me not long ago. Those are pure gold in my estimation. If you’re looking for true context to understand what you’re reading and offering to others, the mark has been set pretty high with that New Testament set. As for Old Testament, I have a couple of different sets that I use. My wife gave me the Layman’s Bible Commentary set as as a Christmas gift, and I’ve used that quite a bit as well. When you use these as compliments to the Bible you’ll deepen your understanding of the Gospel and you’re highly likely to strengthen your bond with the Lord.
This is all sounding pretty good, isn’t it? Well, here’s the problem. Your class, group, or gaggle of believers will be comprised of, people. Some will offer you delight. Some will challenge you. Some will disappoint you. Some will begin coming after rumors of the quality of your class get around. Others, who just happened to have been the ones that told people how great your class was, will stop coming.
You need to prepare yourself for the fact that you’ll put in the time, provide what you thought was your best class yet, and people won’t say boo. Other times, you’ll wonder why you even bothered to get out of bed, and people may tell you how you’ve impacted their lives with your edification that morning. …And when you put in time and energy, what you’re truly doing is offering passion. When you’re passionate, it hurts you when people don’t seem to care.
“Hey Mrs. So and So, I don’t see you in my class, would you come?” I asked one of my sisters not long ago. “I watch a program at home instead,” was the answer I was given. So you’d rather set through some boring thing that you could easily watch by recording, YouTube, etc. that doesn’t offer you two-way dialogue or challenge you, in place of sharing your lives with your church family? Yes… Yes, is the answer. You should prepare yourself for things like that. You’re certainly allowed to be unhappy about that, but that’s where it stops also. There are legitimate and true reasons why people may not participate. Sure, many are bogus, but if you hop up onto your high horse, God is not only going to knock you off of it, but you may end up really damaging a relationship due to assumption.
SHOULD I ASK THE CLASS WHAT THEY LIKE OR DON’T?
There’s nothing wrong with asking somebody about the quality and content of your class, but be prepared. The kinds of responses you’re hoping for that truly help shape and hone your instrument appear to be rare. You may end up sorry you asked. There will be assertions laid upon you, and when you don’t alter the class to reflect the change you were suggested by a participant, they could easily become offended. “I see my suggestions you asked for went unconsidered…” Who wants to start that jazz?
At the end of the day, keep it simple. Sound doctrine with content you can back up biblically is the only way to go. God never needs you to lie or embellish for Him. Provoke thought in your students. Illuminate the truth. Some will dig it. Some won’t. But while you’re doing this, remember above all why you sought to do this in the beginning, and stick with that. He’ll appreciate it.
Be salt and light my friends… I found my first year to be rewarding, hard, fun, and worthy of a second year. Pray for me.