I’m thankful for the men and women committed to teaching God’s Word in my church. They are fellow soldiers who proclaim the truth to equip people to do ministry and to battle false doctrines in the world. However, there are some myths about teaching that need to be debunked and removed from our thinking for a healthy Bible teaching ministry to thrive.
1. All it requires to be a teacher in the church is willingness and/or passion. NO! Yes those things are important and essential but there must be a knowledge of the Word produced by diligent study on the teacher's part (2 Timothy 2:15) and a giftedness from the Holy Spirit.
2. Teaching positions in the church look like a corporate ladder (Ex. start out with a children's class and over time work your way up to teaching adults). NO! Really the best teachers should be teaching the children and youth. Why? For one thing, they are still in very impressionable learning stages- bad teaching or weak teaching could be crippling. For another thing, statistically, most of the children in an average Sunday School class are going to be pre-conversion (i.e. they aren’t saved yet)... doesn't it make sense that the best teaching is for those who need it the most? If you are currently serving in those areas- do it with all your heart. Don't look for a "promotion" and if you are looking to exercise your spiritual gift of teaching consider an area that always needs reinforcements... children and youth.
3. Older people can't teach younger people because they can't relate. NO! Bobby Bowden (Florida State) and Joe Paterno (Penn State) are senior citizens yet still lead college young men and boys to be successful football players year in and year out. Don't waste your wisdom. You don't need to know MTV or read Teen People to relate to kids. Just study God's Word and be genuine. After all we don’t want the kids following a “cool teacher”, we want them following Christ.
4. Called Bible teachers retire. NO! There is nothing in the Bible that says after you help out in the youth department of your church for the six years your kid is there you can spend your Sundays at the lake or in the bed after they graduate! Paul tells Timothy (2 Tim 4:2) to, "be ready in season and out of season." I can honestly say that teaching and preaching is not a labor but a joy because I get to spend hours in the richness of God's Word and share that with people... Wow! Why would I want to retire from that? Remember, if you didn't call yourself into this ministry, you can't call yourself out of it.
5. It is more important in teaching to appeal to felt-needs than imparting doctrine (doctrine is boring). NO! Staring deeply at an awesome God should be exciting, not boring… especially if we say we love God. If studying the attributes and aspects of God and His sovereign will come across boring then the teacher is boring not the material.
6. Teaching begins when the class starts and ends when the class dismisses. NO! Teachers are not more privileged than any other Christians but they are more accountable. James (3:1) says, "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethern, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment." Teaching is a calling, it is a discipline, it is a ministry (you are investing time and relationship in people), and it is a commitment to a lifestyle of integrity.
Let us have integrity in life and in teaching. If the Word is not at the center of our teaching then what lasting effect can we hope to have? In John 17:17 Jesus prays to the Father, "Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth." It is the Word that transforms and not for a better self but for the glory of God. I hope you will join me in commitment to sound teaching and sound living, and also praying for God to raise up more men and women in our church to follow the call to teach His Word.