Jimmy Tuten, Jr.
Under the general theme heading this column various sub-topics will be discussed. The column caption means exactly what it says. To "teach" is simply to "cause to know a subject." Secondly, to "guide the studies." Finally, to "impart knowledge." Hence the concern of these writings is that of trying to instruct brethren in matters that will assist in arriving at a favorable termination. It is one thing to teach, but to teach successfully is entirely another matter. The goal of all teachers should be the termination of one's work with favorable results.
Instead of approaching the theme from a textbook" type of presentation, this writer desires only to offer advice and help in essentials of Bible class teaching. I intend to speak in heart-to-heart discussions as one Bible class teacher to another. I do not claim to know all there is to know about teaching for I am still a student of the subject myself.
Any advice or help from our readers would he greatly appreciated. The prayer of the writer is that the material presented in this column will create a thirst and desire to teach effectively. Very few teachers of the Bible have formal training in this field. It is essential therefore that we strive, to master at least some of the skills of effective teaching. Teaching is a venture in faith: Faith in God and faith in His Word. We must not overlook the fact that, it is also a venture in the faith of teaching itself. The process of instruction is like a double-edged sword: it works both ways. "Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?" (Rom. 2:21). Imagine the personal enjoyment and thrill derived from teaching when one masters the art of the teaching processes, the skill of lesson planning and the skill of directing students in class-room work.
Teaching involves more than merely telling Bible stories or relating facts and events. 1 It is more than exhorting people to apply Biblical principles so that they can live better lives as Christians. To ask questions, to give a lecture, or to stimulate avid discussion is not the conclusion of the whole matter. It is not a matter of chance, nor is it the strict observance, of rigid rules and laws of teaching and learning. Teaching requires preparedness, alertness and creativeness. To be a dedicated child of God, laboring from week to week, with a working knowledge of the Bible is one thing. Changing lives and promoting growth through teaching Bible subjects is something else. The latter should be the goal of those who teach. Teaching, in the broadest sense of the term, involves all the steps and processes by which an infant is gradually, transformed into a full-grown, intelligent man.2 In like manner, the New Testament pictures the child of God as a "babe" desiring the sincere milk of the word that he may grow thereby (I Pet. 2:2). It pictures him as being transformed by the renewing of the mind, that one may prove what is good, acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:1-2). Certainly, part of the-blame for failure to grow spiritually falls upon the Bible class teacher who fails in the wonderful task of imparting Bible knowledge (Heb. 5:12-14). "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment" (Jas. 3: 1, NASV).
It has been suggested that the "greatest enemy of the Bible is not the person who attacks it and claims that it is not really different from other books. Rather it is the person who sets the Bible up on such a high pedestal and makes it so different that its humanity is lost." 3 The key to this thought is in the expression: "its humanity is lost." Are we really communicating the Bible when we stress the Divine side of it but overlook the human element? After all, the Bible is a record of the experiences of real men in the midst of the conflicts of life. Until we view the Bible as relating to humanity, the real experiences of men coming to grips with God's will, and the elements of society in which they live, we will never grasp fully the real drama of revelation (I Cor. 2:6-10) and response (Jonah 1: 1-3; 3:1-4). It is essential that the student (be he a young person or an adult) view the Biblical world as a real world; Biblical people as real people and the unfolding of God's great scheme as something that occurred in the concrete, human situation. Furthermore the student must be made to understand that the Bible is a record 'written by a number of different writers over a long period of time and the result of God's use of men with all their frailness (Jno. 16:13; Eph. 3:4-7). Their own individuality, their own language or method of relating events, are all included in their writings. This accounts for the difference in style and emphasis of the various books of the Bible. One cannot eliminate the human element of inspiration (I Cor. 2:13). To lose the humanity of the Bible is to tear from it the human fabric of revelation. God used real people with like passions as those who make up the present generation to tell us of the events in the lives of real men and women. Men and women who before God, live, move and have their being (Acts 17:28). This is the factor that makes the Bible relevant to the 20th Century.
Truly the unsung hero of the army of The Lord is the teacher of the Bible. No collective, (or local church) of God's people can be stronger than its teaching arrangement. Students of Bible Classes grow in proportion to the efficiency of those who teach them. Because the teacher shapes and molds the life of the student, there can be no greater task or honor than that of teaching the Bible. This should spur the teacher to greater study of God's Word and the improvement of one's teaching methods. Let it be remembered: what a teacher says is important; what a teacher does is more important; what teacher is is most important! Are you a good teacher? You can become a more proficient tutor if you are willing to strive for goals that are attainable. No teacher is at his best until he is teaching at his best. Our life is but a little gleam of time between two eternities. Let's make the most of it as Bible Class teachers.
1. John T. Sizemore, Blueprint for Teaching (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1964), Pp. 7-8
2. John M. Gregory, The Seven Laws of Teaching (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1969), Pp. 9-10 3
3. D. P. Brooks, The Bible -- How To Understand And Teach It (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1969), p. 3
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 1, pp. 10-11