“Good Teaching…?”

CB064071What is “good teaching”? There is one class of people who would name their favorite pastor, or conference speaker to answer that question. (Usually based upon how that person measures up on the laughter meter, or how “deep” & theological that person can dive with their eloquent sermons) Others would say that “good teaching” is a non-negotiable when searching for a “church home”. Many venture out on a journey to find a church with “good teaching”, never to find what they’re looking for. The sad thing is that the phrase “good teaching” is usually measured with an improper “scorecard”. It is usually a question of, “good entertainment”, or “did the person on the stage say anything in particular that caused me to perk up in my seat-based upon excitement, or conviction?” Or, “Did the sermons elicit any emotional response?” What then, really, is “good teaching”, and how can we shift our minds away from an inaccurate perception to a healthy, Biblical one?

My friends Tony & Felicity Dale, along with the help of George Barna, have recently come out with a book I have been reading called, “The Rabbit & the Elephant”. As soon as I am finished reading the book I will be posting a more extensive “review” if you will. Today, however, I wanted to share with you a bit of what the authors have to say about this topic of “good teaching”. I need not add anything to their words…

“Let’s look at the Apostle’s teaching first. If our simple churches are going to multiply rapidly, we no longer have the luxury of taking several years to train a Bible teacher. Anyway, the goal is not a few gifted teachers but a lot of hungry learners. Paul the apostle faced this dilemma as well-in some instances he was forced to move away from the new believers almost immediately. For example, in Philippi he only ‘stayed there several days’ (Acts 16:12, NIV). Therefore, we like to use an approach that allows the Bible to teach itself, enabling even young believers to lead. In New Testament times, teaching was far more interactive. For instance, the word used for Paul’s lengthy teaching in Ephesus is the Greek word dialegomai, from which we get our word ‘dialogue’ (Acts 20:7). Jesus’ informal teaching was frequently discussion-based and interrupted by questions He either posed Himself or was asked by others. Evangelical Christians tend to emphasize the importance of good teaching, but we believe that this is missing the point of helping people to genuinely learn Scripture and apply it to their everyday lives. Statistics show that we learn far more by actively participating than we do by hearing alone. People remember approximately 20 percent of what they hear, 50 percent of what they see and hear, and 70 percent of what the say themselves. In simple church, everyone is involved in the learning process. More than once, we have had people tell us they have learned more in just a few months of simple church than in years of listening to good sermons!”

The authors then go into a few methods of scripture study and teaching they’ve experienced in different simple churches, but you’ll have to get the book if you want to learn about those! Many evangelicals get worried that this type of teaching is dangerous, and allows potential heresy to creep in…

“Many who come from traditional church backgrounds are concerned that such an approach opens the door to heresy. We can attest that in the dozens of groups we’ve been part of over the years, we have never seen anyone sidetracked by wrong teaching. Even with the youngest Christians, we’ve found that when anything too outlandish comes up someone will usually point it out.”

Some other good tidbits from the book:

“Larger groups may run more smoothly if someone acts as a facilitator-to make sure that the study keeps moving, that everyone is taking part, and that no one (particularly the facilitator) dominates. It is not the facilitator’s job to answer questions but rather to direct the questions back to the group…by continually pointing people back to the scriptures, the facilitator ensures that the Bible remains the authority.”

“…The Bible itself is the teacher, and everyone in the group is involved in both the teaching and learning, as well as applying what is learned to daily life.”

“…The hard fact is that listening to long discourses does not turn people into disciples!”

“…Research by the Barna Group has revealed that in conventional churches in the  US, within two hours of having left a church service, the typical attender cannot identify the topic of the sermon, much less the key points communicated within it!”

“While there are many people who appreciate well-crafted and flawlessly communicated sermons, there are even more who appear to get little value from them.”

***All exerpts from “The Rabbit and the Elephant” – Chapter 10: Simply Reproducible***

Click Here to purchase the book!

12 thoughts on ““Good Teaching…?”

  1. Now that is something I would love to be in on. I love to ask questions and really dive into things. Do you know of any simple churches in McKinney?

    • Hey there Tiffany. You do realize that starting these Simple Churches is what and our organization DO, right? =) There are many SC’s all over the country, and quite a few in the DFW area. We are actually a part of the DFW Organic Church Network. Send me an email or FB message if you’re really interested in something like this and i’ll see if I can get in touch with some people in the area who are pursuing this type of church life.

  2. Well, I realized that your ministry has something to do with discipleship and simple churches, but I didn’t know what a simple church was. I will shoot you a message.

  3. Pingback: “Good Teaching…?” | House Church Connections

  4. Aaron, Thanks for the article, and congrats on the baby. By the way, this is John from Aliquippa, PA. We heard that you ran in to some of our family. Daniel and Linda Yang, my wife’s uncle and aunt, are moving down to Dallas to work with Bob at Northwood. They said they bumped in to you while they were down visiting recently. Maybe once they go down there we’ll be able to visit and see everything going on down there. Take care and enjoy parenthood.

    • Hey John! Wow, I didn’t know you were related to the Yang’s? It was good to meet Daniel in person a few weeks back. He’s gonna have a blast at Northwood. My time there was wonderful. We’re still here in the Dallas Ft. Worth area until my wife is done recovering from having the baby, and then it’s back to Vegas where we live. I’d love to meet you sometime. We may be outside of Pittsburgh sometime in Oct…not sure if that’s ANYWHERE near you, but i thought i’d throw it out there. =) Take care.

  5. Hi Aaron, Congrads on the new baby! let’s smoke a cigar together sometime this fall when you come back to vegas for a while! love ya bro.

    i’m going to make sure that I am not coming from a theological bent or anything. But I do see in Titus 1:9 and Titus 2:1 that Paul tells Titus to teach sound doctrine. I think this What say ye? What qualifies as good teaching in your book?

    • Andrew, hey buddy. A cigar sounds great when we get back to Vegas. =) As far as the “good teachings” thing goes: YES, you are exactly right, Paul DOES tell us to teach sounds doctrine. That is exactly what my post is saying we need! (Not the opposite) All i’m questioning is the METHOD by which we TEACH that doctrine. I’m suggesting that it might not be ONE man at a pulpit preaching a sermon to a group of spectators week after week, that’s all. Good teaching, in my book, can be measured by whether or not the STUDENT is equipped to TEACH THEMSELVES. A teacher at a school’s job is to teach students so they can move on to the next grade. Their job includes much more than talking AT the students all day every day. They are interactive with them. There is participation, etc. At the end the students KNOW what they’ve learned and can pass tests. They move onto the next grade level. Jesus TAUGHT His disciples, and they went on to BUILD the church! Why in the world would we sit by and think for ONE second that “good teaching” is measured by how many hits a guy gets on his podcast for how well he can craft a 5 point, 45 minute sermon!? Seriously. That’s all i’m saying. Teaching is something that most pastors have NO clue how to do. We should call is public speaking, or something else, but not teaching. The hard truth is that is we’re gonna call them “teachers” then MOST of their students are failing with an “F”, and they should be fired. If I TEACH my daughter to play guitar, she will be able to PLAY guitar throughout, and after i’m done teaching her, right? That’s “good teaching” in my book. Love you buddy.

      • Aaron,

        You make some good points. I will add this too because i am just as guilty of it. It is almost like pastors and teachers tend to only go towards one stream of theology and make that theological stream an idol. I really think Matt Chandler was right in calling pastors that want to be the next mark driscoll jackasses because they don’t understand that God has a specific mantle for only them. (this actually was said at an Acts 29 conference in seattle in 2008.) They are stupid people that have never been taught that they should put their own personality into their sermons and bible studies. Heck, it’s becomming more common for pastors to plagerize from sermons online. (I actually knew somebody that got fired from a small church that actually ripped people’s sermons off online in 2003.)

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