Teaching with Depth

Today’s blog is in honor of Phil Stone, retired NC Baptist SS Specialist  

In their book, Lost and Found:  The Younger Unchurched and the Churches that Reach Them, Ed Stetzer and Jason Hayes shares from the research done by LifeWay Christian Resources Research.  They discovered that young adults were looking for four things:

  1. Community – A place to belong and find friends
  2. Responsibility – The opportunity for hands on ministry
  3. Connections – A place to find friends and cross generational experiences
  4. Depth – Engaging Bible Study

As teachers, when we think about Depth usually we think about more and more content.  However, the research showed that Depth is less about covering the content and more about engaging the content.  Adults indicated that only 14 percent of a possible study time should be dedicated to teacher explanation or lecture as opposed to 40 percent for discussion and hands on learning.

How Did Jesus Do It?
Read Luke 8 (The Message), and listen for how Jesus engaged his learners:
Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus.  “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life? 
 
Jesus answered, “What’s written in God’s Law?  How do you interpret it?”
 
He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence – and that you love your neighbor as you do yourself”

Good answer! said Jesus.  Do it and you’ll live.

Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”

Jesus answered by telling a story….  (The Good Samaritan Parable – I can hear Jesus saying, Now listen as I tell you this story and tell back to me the answer to your question.)

After the story, Jesus asked, What do you think?  Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers? 
 
The one who treated him kindly, the religion scholar responded.

Jesus said, Go and do the same.

Did Jesus tell the scholar anything?  Not really.  Jesus begins by pointing to the Word asking for the scholar’s interpretation of it.  When the scholar asked a deeper question, Jesus said, Listen to this story and discover for yourself the answer to your question. When the scholar shares the truth that he had discovered for himself, Jesus affirmed it and encouraged the scholar to appropriate the truth discovered into his life.  Jesus knew that knowledge is never enough; one must appropriate truth into life to be transformational.  Jesus had a transformational philosophy of teaching.

Can you think of other examples of Jesus teaching?

What’s your philosophy of teaching?  Your philosophy helps you ask the right questions.  What question do you ask yourself when you begin to prepare to teach the Bible?  Many teachers start with asking, What do my learners need to know?  What do I need to teach them? These questions assume that the teacher is the dispenser of knowledge.  The teacher studies the lesson and then tells the class what s/he has discovered.  Usually, when the class members leave this experience, they often say, We surely do have a smart Bible teacher; I wish I knew the Bible like s/he does! Teachers, this is NOT our goal.  A better approach would have the learners take responsibility for their own learning and discover for themselves biblical truths.  The teacher becomes a facilitator or coach of discovery.  A teacher with a transformational philosophy of teaching might begin by asking these questions:

How can I help learners
…experience the biblical story?
…discover for themselves the biblical truth?
…get involved?

Remember this transformational philosophy:

Where there is no involvement, there is no learning. Gains Dobbins

 

Phil Stone

About tonystopic

Seeker and connector to the abundant life as a husband (to Katrina), father (to Tara & Joseph) and Field Strategist/Sunday School Specialist for the Virginia Baptist Mission Board.
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