What Preachers Can Learn from Teachers
I spend most of my life surrounded by educators. My wife has a degree in Elementary Education. My mom is an educator. I work with teachers all day during my day job (educational interpreting). I have seen a variety of educators and educational styles. I have seen many teachers that were phenomenal and a few who struggled. While I am not an educator, (I could never do what teachers do) I have tried my best to learn from some of those awesome teachers (and the not so awesome ones) and apply what they do to my passion, Deaf Ministry.
I want to start with a couple of clarifications. First, I am using educator and teacher interchangeably to mean someone who teaches in a school. Secondly, I do understand that there are some fundamental differences between what these educators in my life do and what I do preaching the Bible. For instance, all the people I named work with children. I work mostly with adults. All of those people teach the same group every day. I have a couple of hours every week. Most importantly, teachers convey information and educate. My goal in preaching is to capture people’s hearts and let the Word of God change their lives.
Even with all of these differences, there is still a good deal of crossover between educators and Bible preachers. There is a lot we could learn and glean from teachers and their work. Being an educational interpreter lets me become an observer in many of these classrooms and give me the opportunity to see these teachers at work. So, what have a I learned from teachers?
1. Passion. The genesis of this post was a conversation I had with a teacher who commented that she was trying to be more excited while teaching to make her students more excited about the topic. Which worked; her students were more excited when she brought her energy to the lecture. That concept is something that more preachers should try to grasp. If it is a topic that we are excited and passionate about, we should convey that in our preaching. We cannot expect the people we teach to be excited about soul winning, giving, service, or any other topic unless WE, the preachers, are excited about it!
We cannot expect the people we teach to be excited about soul winning, giving, service, or any other topic unless WE, the preachers, are excited about it!
2. Participation. The best teachers I have seen get their students involved. My current pastor does this phenomenally well. He often times has people come on stage during his message and uses them to represent different parts of the concept he is trying to convey. One time, he tied a person to one of the associate pastors and had the associate pastor try to walk around with another person tied to him. He used this to show how holding a grudge is a burden. It drive his point home. In a smaller way, he often has people come on stage to be “characters” when he is expounding a story or concept from the Bible.
3. Purpose. Our purpose to preach is easy to find. We have a lost world who needs the Gospel! Sometimes, however, we struggle to accomplish that simple purpose. We become bogged down in other topics that are not central to our faith. It is necessary to preach the whole counsel of God, but it should all relate back to the overall purpose, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Teaching on giving is not as profitable if it does not relate to how God gave His son. Teaching on marriage falls short unless it conveys that God’s purpose in marriage is to provide a picture of Christ and His church. If someone is teaching the Bible without teaching Christ, they are doing it wrong and missing the point.
If someone is teaching the Bible without teaching Christ, they are doing it wrong and missing the point.
4. Preparedness. Excellent teachers do not stand up with no idea what they want to say. I have seen some (one comes to mind in particular) preachers be able to preach amazingly well with little traditional prep time. However, I have noticed that those people tend to be older gentlemen, who are and have been close to the Lord for decades. I believe that those sermons truly had decades of prep time and those men speak out of an abundance of Godly wisdom. I have seen far more preachers THINK they can preach without proper prep time and fall short. For most of us, we need to be ready to preach. We need to know what we are going to say before we stand up there and convey God’s Word. In the words of Cavett Robert, “When it’s foggy in the pulpit it’s cloudy in the pew.”
I hope these observations challenged you to push yourself as a preacher and convey God’s Word powerfully. We all need to continually push ourselves and preach the most important message the world has ever had with the fervency that it is due.
What other things can preachers learn from teachers? Tell us in the comments or on FaceBook!