Chapter 1: The Pastor-Shepherd
Chapter 2: Chapter 3:
Chapter 4: Chapter 5:
Chapter 6: Chapter 7: Chapter 8: Conclusion Bibliography
Good and Bad Shepherds The Teacher
The Preacher – Teacher
Teaching Children and Teaching Styles
Feeding the Sheep Preparing the Message Expounding the Message
The Manual, A Bible, A Journal/notebook(s)
CHAPTER 1: THE PASTOR-SHEPHERD
We see in Ephesians 4:11-12 that Pastors are one of the five-fold ministries that God gave to the church to train, equip, prepare, build up and mature the church and bring her to a place of unity in the faith, and to prepare her for His second coming.
Ephesians 4 says: “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
A Pastor (of a local congregation) is usually the lead Elder of his local (traditional) church congregation. The term ‘elder’ was used in the Old Testament and the Hebrew for ‘elder’ means ‘an old man’. The elders in the Old Testament were respected leaders of a tribe, nation or city, so eldership was not confined to Jews alone. We see elders in Pharaoh’s house and elders in Egypt (Gen 1:17) and we also see elders of the congregation, elders of the whole number, and elders of each individual tribe of the Jews in the wilderness (in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). Once this custom of appointing elders had been established, the term could have been applied to men who occupied high positions in the community.
In the New Testament, the Greek work for elder means ‘older’. An elder was a respected member of the community and was one of its leaders. Most elders were probably part of the Sanhedrin which consisted of 70 members including the High Priest. Its function was to rule the internal affairs of the Jewish community. The early church probably adopted this tradition. An elder in the early church would have been a more experienced Christian, and was therefore a leader amongst a local body of believers. Some other terms given to an elder would be ‘overseer; or ‘bishop’ OR ‘shepherd’ - these terms or titles are interchangeable, and a pastor is a shepherd.
In some traditional, charismatic or Pentecostal-type churches, and structures and denominations, a Pastor’s title will change to Bishop, or Senior Pastor, depending on the size and structure of the church and denomination they serve in. Some local (traditional or charismatic type-churches) are lead by an Apostle with Pastors serving in and under them, so there may be many pastors in one particular church, each with different responsibilities, e.g. one may be appointed to be a Children’s Pastor, or a Youth Pastor, and some may be appointed to various duties, e.g. to visiting the sick. Other churches may have one Pastor with Elders who serve under his authority and they have delegated responsibilities to the Elders and Deacons. In Simple/Organic and House-churches elders tend to lead the church: there are Pastors, as there are Teachers and Evangelists, or Apostles, but they are servants and are not seen as leaders OVER others, but as guiding, but serving and raising up others into their own vision or ministry and not about the Pastor’s own vision or ministry.
The Pastor’s role
Elders in the New Testament were the Shepherds or Pastors, whereas today this role seems to have changed and the elders seems to have become the Pastor’s assistants and more of a spiritual guide and practical help to the church.
‘Pastors’, if we look back in the Old Testament, used to be called ‘Shepherds.’ These words actually mean the same, both Shepherd and Pastor serve the same purpose... which is to guide, lead and care for the flock, the sheep, the people of God. To really understand the role of the Pastor-Shepherd we need to look at the Eastern Shepherd.
The Eastern Shepherd was one who led the flock of sheep from the front, not by pushing them forwards from behind. If we are pushing the sheep forward, then something is wrong. The one who walks behind and drives the sheep forward is not a real Shepherd. The Eastern Shepherd always used to walk ahead of the sheep and they followed him – they followed him because they knew he was the Shepherd, their carer-protector, just as we follow Jesus and know that He is our Shepherd and carer-protector. Pastors then, were those who leads by example, by modelling how to do things, never by force or control, and the sheep follow, because they know the shepherd is leading them to good places.
In Acts 20, Paul calls the Ephesian elders ‘shepherds’ and urges them to watch
themselves and the flock because of wolves (false teachers).
A Pastor-Shepherd is called to love and care for the flock, and to lead them. This should not mean that the Pastor-shepherd becomes over-protective, or controlling, or jealous, but allows people to make-mistakes and allows room to grow. He gently guides or corrects and does not hold on people to keep them to themselves, or to hold them back, but rather lets them go when the time is right.
A Shepherd is responsible for the flock and for their growth, so he will need to feed them, more than that, he teaches the sheep to feed themselves and be responsible for their own spiritual growth. In Jeremiah 3:15 we read, “And I will give you pastors (or shepherds) according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.” I believe God wants his Shepherds to be close to his heart, so that they know the heart and mind of God, and does not feed the sheep with traditions and dead religion, but rather with God’s words with love. In Jeremiah 23:4 it says, “And I will set up Shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, says the Lord.”
A Pastor is one who is able to identify with people, and is willing to put himself out in order to nurture, guide and lead others. A Pastor is a leader by example: he goes ahead of the sheep and shows them the way to the Father, because he is a spiritual father. Because he is a spiritual father, he is able to counsel others with wisdom from the heart of the Father and with inspiration from the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is our guide and counsellor. The Pastor therefore, knows the Holy Spirit and is able to connect people to Him. A Pastor builds and encourages growth in his flock. He does not desire for them to stay as Lambs, but to grow and mature into their fullest potential and then is able to release them to become all they were meant to be.
A Pastor is also able to teach the Word of God in a way that it feeds the flock, and he is able to demonstrate to them how they may feed from the Word. It says in James 3:1, that not many should be teachers because they will be judged even harder than others! A Pastor is also a teacher, because he needs to impart the basic truths of Scriptures into people’s lives so that they have a foundation of truth laid, and are able to build on this foundation, to the place where people mature from the milk of the word to the meat, from babyhood to adulthood and into fatherhood in the spiritual sense of the word. Pastors teach and disciple in order to bring about maturity in the Body of Christ.
The Pastor-Shepherd develops the same love, compassion and care for his sheep as The Lord does. The Pastor-Shepherd has the same kind of heart as the Great Shepherd, he is like Jesus, with the desires to love, guide and care for the flock. His primary job is to lead people into relationship with Jesus, into a place of security, depth, and maturity, teaching them and equipping them to serve and be part of the Body of Christ.
A Pastor’s job is NOT primarily to develop programmes, works and ministries, or church buildings, or a business, but his primary task is develop people, to disciple, to lead, shepherd the flock (in humility), to help to build relationships between man and God and between family members, to teach, disciple, equip, train and bring the church to place of being fully mature ... ministries come secondary to this task and will naturally flow out of this place. The Pastor also needs to identify gifts within his people and nurture them in those gifts, and raise up other Pastors and leaders from within his family, passing on responsibilities and releasing people into the fullness of their gifts and calling at the right time.
In 1 Peter 4:2-3 it says, “Tend (nurture, guard, guide and fold) the flock of God that is (your responsibility), not by coercion or constraint, but willingly; not dishonourably motivated by the advantages and profits (belonging to the office), but eagerly and cheerfully; Not domineering (as arrogant, dictatorial and overbearing persons) over those in your charge, but being examples (patterns and models of Christian living) to the flock (the congregation).” Therefore a Pastor does not lead by fear, manipulation or control, or by forcing his authority upon his flock but by tending the flock and offering himself as an example.
Qualifications of a Pastor
To be an Pastor (or Elder, Bishop or Overseer) we need to qualify for the position!
A person would be appointed mainly according to this experience and character; as it says in 1 Timothy 3:6, “a man must be mature in the faith or he will swell up with pride.”
In 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 we have a list of qualifications. Paul says to Timothy that a Bishop must give no grounds for accusation but live his life above reproach. He must be respectable. He must have one wife, be self controlled, dignified, orderly and disciplined, hospitable, be must be able to teach, must not be an uncontrolled drinker of wine, but gentle and considerate, not quarrelsome but forbearing and peaceable, not a lover of money, and he must rule his own household well, including his own children. He must have a good reputation outside of the church as well as inside it.
In Titus it says that Elders (Overseers, Pastors, etc) need to be appointed and set in the churches (assemblies) in every city. Paul says that an Elder should be of unquestionable integrity, irreproachable, the husband of one wife, whose children are believers, not loose in morals or conduct or disorderly. He goes on to say that a Elder (Pastor or Overseer) must be blameless, not self-willed, or arrogant or presumptuous, not quick tempered or violent, not greedy, but a lover of goodness, sober minded, upright and fair minded a devout man, temperate and keeping himself in hand. In 1 Peter 5:1-3 it also says that Elders, (including Pastors) must be Shepherds of the flock. They need to tend, nurture guard and guide the flock of God, not by coercion or constraint, or with dishonest motivations and intentions. A Pastor must not domineer or be arrogant or dictatorial but be examples to the flock.
A Pastor has a lot to live up too! He cannot be a new believer, because he needs to have the right character, experience, understanding, lifestyle to qualify for this position. Today’s Pastor needs to have integrity, honesty in ALL his affairs, including his home, wife and children, his finances, his relationships, his behaviour in society, and the way he conducts himself in church affairs. Most of all, the Pastor needs to love – love his people, love the wider church family, love his neighbourhood, love the people in the world so that people will know who you we are BY OUR LOVE. Without love, we cannot achieve anything.
How can a Pastor live up to all these expectations and requirements of him? I believe he can with support and understanding from his family, friends, church and from a network of fellow ministers or co-workers who he can relate too. Pastors need people who can speak into their lives and they need to be accountable to their fellow Elders, or a Bishop who overseers who cares for his welfare. Pastors are just ordinary people, who need a support network. A Pastor has a lot of responsibility and at times becomes tired or burned-out with ministry, and prone to sin in areas of finances, wealth, and relationships outside of marriage, often due to stress, sometimes due to self-deceit; therefore Pastors need people who care for them. Pastors need people they can speak too about their concerns, about their own private affairs, and they need an outlet from church and ministry life. To summarise, Pastors are called to be wise and loving shepherds, who themselves are lead by the Good Shepherd.
CLASS – GROUP WORK:
In small groups:
1. Describe the varied and vast roles and functions of the Shepherd-Pastor. Are Pastors falling short of their true role?
2. Describe the effects of your role on your marriage and family life?
3. What are the worst issues or cases you are likely to face as a Shepherd-Pastor?
4. What accountability do you need as a Shepherd-Pastor? Homework – Journal:
1. What support and guidance or continual training do you feel you need to receive as a Shepherd-Pastor?
2. Write down how you feel you fit the role of the Pastor-Shepherd, and where you may need to make adjustments. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit how he wants you to enhance your role as a Shepherd and journal what He says to you.
CHAPTER 2: GOOD AND BAD SHEPHERDS
The Bible makes it clear that there are good and bad shepherds. We see this first in Ezekiel chapter 34. In this chapter the prophet Ezekiel was prophesying and rebuking the bad-false shepherd-overseers of Israel because they looked after their own needs rather than the needs of the people they were caring for: they fed themselves first and neglected the flock. They did not care for the diseased and weak and sick, or the hurt and crippled in their flock. They did not bring back the strays or the lost. They used force (rules) and control to rule the people. Because of their behaviour the sheep scattered and became easy prey to their enemy. Ezekiel continues with the warnings of discipline for these shepherds, because they fouled the waters and trampled on the good grass (food) they were supposed to be giving to the sheep, and because they pushed the weak and diseased aside. The Lord warned them that he would judge between the fat and thin sheep, and the goats, and he promised to rise up a Good Shepherd who would rule over all the sheep.
In John Chapter 10 we see an example of what a good shepherd needs to be like. Jesus said that He is the Good Shepherd, and that the true Shepherd enters by the door or the gate. True shepherds today should not try to enter via back door route, or try to force his way in, or try to enter through any other gate but Jesus. Back door routes include people who rise up to this position in the church because of their blood-line relationships within the church, or because of influence or control from within the church, rather than true calling and a real heart for the ministry. True shepherds need to be called to this ministry, not entering it merely as a profession, or for respect and title, or fill in, or simply because the position has been handed down to them, but because they love the Great Shepherd and love the sheep he gives them.
In John 10, Jesus said that he call his sheep by name. His sheep do not follow another shepherd, they only follow the voice of the one they know. Today’s Pastor- Shepherd also needs to know his sheep by name. He needs to know who is in his church-flock, making sure each member is cared for properly. Ezekiel says the false or bad shepherd do not care for the sick and ‘diseased’ sheep, or those who are hurt or crippled, but rather neglect them, ignore them, or even cast them out. In Ezekiel the Lord said that the bad-false shepherds have not bandaged the hurt or strengthened the weak and the sick. The Lord is looking for Shepherds who will look after the sick (in body, heart, mind, spirit) and weak, those who need their wounds healed.
When we look at the parable that Jesus told in Luke 10 about the Good Samaritan, we see a parallel between good and bad shepherds here also. In this parable, the Priest and Levite both passed by the sick, injured, dying man on the road as they went about their religious duties. Only the Samaritan (an outcast among the Jews) took responsibility to care for this injured dying man, until he was well. So the Priest and Levite were like the bad shepherds who ignored the sick and dying like the bad shepherds in Ezekiel, and the Samaritan was like a good shepherd. We need to be like the Samaritan, putting ourselves out, pouring oil on the wounds, bandaging up the wounds of the sick among the flock, until they are well and able to stand.
In Ezekiel it says that the false or bad shepherd will not lead or feed the sheep properly, but will look after their own needs first, neglecting the flock. They will give them ‘poor’ food and water that has been fouled, polluted and diluted, leaving no nutrients to feed on, therefore the sheep are hungry and thirsty and begin to wonder off.
Many sheep have wondered off, have left the flock looking for real food and real love. Some have left the faith and others have continued in the faith, but have become ‘stray’ sheep, looking for a spiritual home, and many have just simply given up looking – either way there is no help, and stray sheep and lost sheep are easy prey for the enemy to devour. So the Lord said, he himself would search for the lost sheep and bring them back. This reminds of the parable of the Lost Sheep. Again in this parable we see that the good shepherd cares for his sheep. He actively goes out to find the lost one, and bring him back to the fold. This parable not only portrays Jesus as the one who seeks and finds the lost, but also shows us that good pastor-shepherds need to be doing the same thing by caring for the sheep and actively looking for and find the lost ones to return them to the fold.
Jesus is like the Eastern Shepherd would lead the sheep from the front and the sheep would follow. He would lead them to good pastures giving them good food. He would guard and protect their lives, just as Jesus does as our Shepherd. A ‘thief’, one who is NOT the true shepherd will NOT lay down his life for the sheep. That is how you will know a true shepherd. A true Shepherd loves the sheep and will lay down his life for them, a false Shepherd will not do this, but rather look after his own needs first and would leave the sheep in a place of danger, where ‘wolves’ and false Shepherds can harm them.
A bad shepherd will also attack the sheep himself, leaving them wounded and bleeding, confused and betrayed. Bad shepherds attack (abuse) the sheep when they accuse, belittle, use threats, or control and manipulation (often veiled), use guilt or spiritual superiority, or use people spiritually, but never show gratitude or respect; show preference to some but neglect others, and abandon people in time of need.
Very often, leadership abuse is subtle. Some Shepherds or leaders can get into situations of abuse unwittingly, perhaps never intentionally, and most often without their own insight or understanding in what they are doing to themselves to others or to their families; otherwise, I believe, the majority would stop and take account of what they are doing. The deceivers are deceived themselves, blinded by their own revelations, their own spiritual superiority and ability to hear from God more than others.
Some leaders will have some specific revelations they believe are directly from God; often this is a false doctrine or a slant, an imbalance of doctrine or practice, that they believe is 100% correct and directly from God; these are belief systems or practices that they will not let go of – they truly believe within themselves that these revelations, or practices are correct and the only right way for them (and their church) to operate.
The revelations and practices that leaders have may not be entirely wrong, but they may not be entirely right either, especially if they do not build up the believer but rather destroys them. These revelations or belief systems will be feed to the flock, sometimes over and over again until it infiltrates, penetrates and completely convinces the receivers that what they are hearing, and being taught must be right .... even if they have niggling doubts and a check in their own spirit... what the leaders have said MUST be right ... to question it will take them out of the will of God, and the favour of God over their lives ...they cannot be hearing God properly if they are not following their leaders instructions.
Once the leaders have won the hearts, trust and confidence of people, they can then control the hearts, thoughts, wills and minds of listeners by moulding them with their revelations or belief systems. It becomes subtly manipulating and controlling... but it also damages the receivers on the inside of their being in a way that cannot be explained – they may feel stripped of confidence in themselves, in others and in their relationship with God; they may feel stripped of skills, knowledge, gifts, and their own true identity... and it is a hard cycle to get out of.... especially when those who are receiving and following this, have built up trust and love in their leaders.
Leaders can often withdraw contact and social isolate a person, causing the person(s) concerned to feel a sense of guilt, condemnation, shame and much more, when in fact, nobody in our churches should feel this way, for any reason. Many may have spiritual and nervous burnout and breakdowns as a result of bad treatment. False or imbalanced doctrines or practices do not build up, but they gradually destroy from the inside out. The test of truth is the true and balanced Word of God, and also the Body of Believers (outside of the circle) who really know and love the person involved, and can help them see things from a different perspective.
It is abusive to force or manipulate a person with doctrines, teachings, or practice or revelation, no matter how right we think it is, when they are not happy or ready to receive it, or they are not hearing these things from God themselves, only via the leaders, when it brings dependence on the leaders and destroys a person’s confidence in their own relationship with God; it is false. Force and manipulation, withdrawal and then guilt and rejection by leaders can follow, causing great damage to others.
Some sheep find it very hard to recover from this kind of spiritual abuse, and may find it hard to ever trust a leader again or go near a Christian or a church again.
A good shepherd will earn his respect and trust among the sheep by his consistent love and care, and will never force or manipulate, seek to control or condemn, but rather to restore, love, build up and release people in his care.
David was a Shepherd before he became a King, and he wrote Psalm 23. David was writing from experience, as he was a shepherd himself for many, many years before he become king. He was able to compare his own experience of being a shepherd, to our Shepherd who cares for us, and he records in this Psalm how he does this.
Good pastors-shepherds are like the Good Shepherd in Psalm 23. Pastors do not lead people to themselves, but to the Good Shepherd, Jesus. Pastors should not cause others to be dependent on them, but only God.
Good pastor-shepherds will make sure their flock is not spiritual hungry and will teach them how to feed themselves. He will lead the sheep to green pastures and feed them. The Pastor-Shepherd brings his sheep to a place where they are eating a balanced diet, good healthy spiritual food that feeds the mind, the spirit and the soul, and keeps the sheep strong.
The good pastor-shepherd will cause the sheep to lie down in green pastures – he will bring his sheep to a place where they can be by the quite waters and where they can feast at the table. Good pastors will lead them into righteousness, nor error and sin. They will stay close to their sheep when they are hurting, or go through trials, or are in pain; they will stay close when they are dying and they will teach them not to fear. They will protect and guide with their rod and staff – through teaching, guidance and counsel, comfort and encouragement.
Good pastors will prepare a table before the enemy; in other words they will teach the sheep that they can triumph over the enemy, by overcoming temptation and sin, difficulties, trials and all sorts of situations that will the sheep will encounter.
Good pastors will anoint the heads of their flock with oil – they will teach and lead the sheep to receive, to bathe in, and be full of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Good pastor-shepherds will guide and lead their sheep to know goodness and mercy all the days of their life. He will teach them how to know God’s mercy and goodness, how to live in it and how to display this fruit in their lives. Good shepherds will produce good fruit in the people that they pastor.
Will we be good or bad pastor-shepherds? If we follow the Good Shepherd and do things his way, with his heart, we will be good shepherds to the people he entrusts us with.
SCHOOL – CLASS WORK:
Small group work:
1. Describe the nature and character of good and bad shepherds. Include your own experiences, good and bad, and share where you may have slipped up or need some prayer and restoration.
2. Describe how you can restore the sick, diseased, hurt, lost and broken sheep.
3. What is spiritual abuse, and how can you avoid this as leaders?
4. How does the Pastor-shepherd lead people to Jesus?
Homework – Journal
1. From scriptures in the lesson-chapter, describe good and bad pastor-shepherds. Describe how YOU can be a good shepherd.
2. Pray over and journal any pastoral issues from your past that have hurt you, releasing forgiveness to the people involved. Pray over any other areas in yourself that the Lord may be highlighting in your own life and ministry.
CHAPTER 3: THE TEACHER
The Teacher is also one of the five-fold ministries, who is called to teach, train, equip and disciple the Body of Christ in order to bring her to maturity of faith (Eph 4:11-12).
A Teacher is one who has a calling to minister the Word of God. The Teacher does not teach by sharing facts and figures, sharing head knowledge, history lessons and geography or genealogy lessons, or using theological language or any other technical and skills he may have, but by shedding new light and breathing new life on subjects. He equips the saints and feeds them living bread, and he leads them into positive action with the knowledge they have received, by showing them how to put things into practice, step by step.
He or she is one and who loves to share the things that the Lord is revealing to them, teaching principles of living, linking the Old and New Testament, linking how God did things in the past and how he teaches us now... teachers enjoying digging into the Word and expounding it to others, so that others can enjoy and receive the life, truth and revelation that they have received. The teacher is able to make the Word living, teaching it with passion and bringing a fresh word, fresh revelation that enlightens and encourages and enhances the faith of others. Teachers have the ability to present truths and concepts in a way that is easy to grasp and in a way that is useful and practical, so that the listeners are able to take home the truths and principles they have learned, and start using them in their daily lives. Therefore, Teachers are able to take believers from one step of their faith and experience into another, leading them to higher places and also deeper places.
Teachers will also impart in different ways, and will teach people how to dig into the word and find out things for themselves; how to research for themselves, how to study and find answers, how to find out what the Spirit of God is saying. Teachers will come alongside people and teach them by modelling, not just by words. Teachers, like Pastors, do not lead people to themselves to find answers, but to the Holy Spirit as the Teacher.
The Qualities of a Teacher
A Teacher’s character is more important than his gifting. God looks for character above calling. Paul told Timothy that a servant (teacher) of the Lord must not be quarrelsome (fighting and contending). Instead, he must be kind to everyone and mild-tempered, (preserving the bond of peace); he must be a skilled and suitable teacher, patient and forbearing and willing to suffer wrong. He must correct his opponents with courtesy and gentleness, in the hope they come to know the truth, and escape judgement (2 Tim 2:15).
Note here that Paul is was emphasising the qualities of Timothy’s personality as a Teacher, how he needed to handle himself and the Fruits of the Spirit that he needed to display. Paul wanted to see qualities of peace, kindness, a controlled and mild tempered manner, patient and forbearing, courteous and gentle. Surely, if this was necessary for Timothy, then this is necessary for us as Teachers also? Yet we often see the opposite. We see often see characteristics of pride, superiority, self-righteousness, contempt, inflexibility, rudeness, impatience etc in those who teach our children and young people, and even adults. I have witnessed and experienced these attitudes in teachers myself, and they make the average person feel very inferior to them, even scared of them. These attitudes are not God’s attitudes. They are not the Be-Attitudes we find in Matthew chapter 5. We are told to have the qualities and attitudes that Christ had.
To be a Teacher we need to displaying the same qualities and attitudes that Christ did to those that he taught. Then we need to add our skills as a teacher to our characteristics. Teachers also need to be studiers of the Word. Timothy was charged by Paul to study the Word of God and to be an approved workman, correctly handling and dividing the Word of God (2 Tim 2:15). A Teacher needs to study the Word, know it, understand it (Old Testament and New), receive fresh revelation from it and then to teach and present it in a balanced and fresh way so others can receive revelation from the Word.
Paul also told Timothy that he needed to devote himself to public reading of the Word, to preaching and teaching and instilling doctrine and to preserve them. He was told not to neglect his gifts of teaching and preaching and to cultivate himself and give himself to these duties.
As Teachers, we need to learn how to be skilful teachers, because it doesn’t come automatically. We are not born as Teachers, we are made Teachers, therefore we need learn and to practice our skills. We can learn by watching and modelling other good teachers, we can learn by trying out different ways of teaching, and different styles. We can be creative and fresh in the way we teach and deliver the Word of God, and we need make the level and style of teaching suitable to our audience- listeners. We can become skilled by use. This was expected of Timothy and so we need to come to the same level as him.
We need to add to this the list of characteristics in 1 Timothy Chapter 3. This list of characteristics applies not only to Elders-Pastors but to Teachers also. If Teachers are not living the right kind of life-style, if they are teaching one thing but doing another, then they are giving the wrong messages and signals to their listeners, who are more likely to do what the Teacher does, than what he says. We become false teachers if we do not live the lifestyle that we teach. People can see through us. We cannot speak one thing yet live another lifestyle, as we become hypocrites in their eyes and again we nullify the message of the cross. Everything we teach, we need to model, and our ultimate model is Jesus.
Jesus spoke much about false teachers and so did the Apostles. Even during their time and era false teachers had already arisen. However, there is a distinct difference between bad teachers and false teachers, and it is essential that we know the difference between the two.
Jesus said simply, we will know them (false teachers, false prophets, false apostles etc) by their fruit. If the fruit of the teacher is bad it is because it comes from a bad source. Fruit refers to the lifestyle and outcome of a person’s ministry and whether that fruit lasts. If a Teacher’s ministry produces fear and bondage or dependence on the teacher (instead of the Holy Spirit), his fruit is bad. If a Teacher’s ministry produces a change of lifestyle, faith, hope and love in the listeners, then his fruit is good and will last. This is the kind of fruit Jesus is looking for. In John 15, Jesus also spoke about the vine and abiding in Him to produce good fruit. Jesus also spoke about the vine and the branches, and he clearly states that if the branches are not producing good fruit, He will prune them, or chop them off. However, He will prune the fruitful branches so that they can produce more good fruit.
Paul warned us that if anyone teaches another gospel, and enters into arguments and debates, then he becomes puffed up with pride and conceit, which results in envy, jealousy, quarrels, dissension, abuse and insults, slander and suspicions. Paul told us to withdraw from men like these, and those who enter the ministry for the profit, because this is false. These are the fruits of the enemy, not the fruits of righteousness.
False Teachers produce bad fruit. They teach false doctrines, they produce guilty, fear, condemnation and dependence on themselves, and their teaching only. The bring a false gospel, a different gospel to the one that Jesus and the Apostles taught us, which does not lead them to eternal life, found only in Jesus. Only Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. False teachers often point to another Saviour (usually themselves) other than Jesus as the Messiah.
Many false teachers (outside of the Christian church) are entrenched in different religions that call themselves Christian, yet they deviate far from the Gospel. Many of these groups either take away (dilute) the truths and principles in the Gospel so that they are weak and meaningless, or they add to the Gospel with their own Bibles, e.g. the Morman Church (The Church of the Latter Day Saints), have a Book of Morman which they hold in higher esteem than the Bible. Some have translated the Bible with a bias towards homosexuals and some have translated the Bible with a bias towards Islam, substituting the true word of God for a lie. Beware of these - they are also an apostasy.
There are also many ‘churches’ and groups who have an element of Christianity in them, but the majority of their belief system is non-Christian, e.g. New Age groups mix and match belief systems including Christianity. A relatively new group is called Chrislam. Chrislam is a mixture of Christianity and Islam where Mohammed is raised to the same status, if not higher, than Jesus, because Jesus is just a prophet in the Islamic belief system. Chrislam is an apostasy as it mixes two religions, which nullifies Jesus as Saviour and Lord, as do other groups and faiths who mix Christianity with paganism, scientology, mystic practices, and occult practices. These defile the pure message of the gospel.
However, there are also false teachers who are hard to detect, who look good on the outside but are rotten on the inside. They may be hidden in different branches of the nominal Christian church or new Christian churches springing up. Some are plants from the enemy and infiltrate and defile the church by their teachings. They teach huge variations of the gospel which bring condemnation, judgment, and fear; or the opposite extreme, they accept loose morals, and teach that anything is acceptable allowing demonic activity in their midst, unchecked. They may also take one doctrine or references in the Bible out of context and magnify them out of proportion and out of alignment to the rest of the Christian message. Paul mentioned some false teaches in 2 Timothy 2:17-18 who did this. Paul said that Hymenaeus and Philetus had missed the mark in their teaching, that their teaching was like a cancer, spreading like gangrene, because they were teaching that the resurrection has already taken place and this had undermined the faith of some believers.
Many other Christian ministries focus on money and wealth, fame, power and miracles, but miss the essential message of the cross, therefore they miss the mark also. I believe in the power of God being demonstrated through the Gospel of Christ, in healings and miracles, signs and wonders, however ministries that do not preach the cross defile the message of the Gospel to some degree and bring danger and harm to the flock. We need to be wise and discerning whom we listen too and what we accept. If the teaching is unbalanced and does not line up straight with the Gospel and the message of the Kingdom that Jesus taught, then we should not be listening to it or following it. Jesus told us that many false teachers would come and he expects us to be discerning and wise and know how to deal with it.
Bad Teachers are not necessarily false teachers. They may be Christian in outlook, ethics and doctrines, values, belief systems and Christian practices: so they are NOT false, but they have bad teaching practices that they need to adjust because what they are currently doing, is harmful to some and meaningless to others.
Bad teachers are teachers who teach with no passion, and who have become hard and unteachable themselves. Bad teachers have no passion for the students or their growth and maturity. They stick to the letter of the law, so to speak, rather than being looking for inspiration in and with their students. Bad teachers are inflexible and do not make room or allowances for students needs. Students can inspire teachers to be better teachers, if the teacher is willing to ‘see’ it and learn from them.
Bad teachers often have bad presentation and bad attitudes. They often teach knowledge facts and figures, but do not show students how to understand and apply knowledge in their daily lives or to the subject. Bad teachers often use the same teaching methods repeatedly, varying little, and do not cater for individual needs and learning styles of students-listeners. When teachers become stuck in a rut, very few students will achieve what they are capable of.
Bad Teachers can also be overly strict and controlling, and some use fear and punishment as a method of controlling students, especially children and young people. If teachers are operating like this, then the students will not respect them for being good teachers, but it will create a fear, dread, and even hate for the teacher concerned, and create fear and barriers in the students so that they are unable to learn effectively in the future. A good teacher will not use fear or severe punishment to communicate with the students and control the class or listeners, but will use positive methods of reinforcement and gain the respect and attention of the listeners by the way they communicate, teach and care for their students or listeners.
Good Teachers study the Bible and know its contents and meaning, seeking wisdom and revelation from the Holy Spirit as they correctly handle the Word of God, teaching the message Jesus taught without deviation from the truth, but letting the Holy Spirit inspire the message they bring.
Good Teachers are teachable themselves, and so they have the ability to learn from others, to soak, to receive and to pass this passion onto others. They are not so fixed in their thinking that they cannot learn and move forward, but neither are they so loose-minded that they do not know the basic principles and values of the Word of God and are easily tossed and swayed about by ‘every wind of doctrine.’ Teachers know the teacher (the Holy Spirit). They learn from the Teacher and they know his heart, his mind, his thoughts, his ways, and they teach from His perspective, not from man’s or the worldly system we live in. The purpose of the teaching ministry is not just to impart knowledge and wisdom, but to bring a balanced and pure biblical foundation, to build up, equip, train and bring about spiritual maturity in the Body of Christ.
Good Teachers teach and preach the Word of God, not the doctrines of man, not just lists of scriptures and doctrines, but a balance of Biblical foundations, teaching and revelation found in the Old and New Testament, but with inspiration and application. They teach about Christ and His Gospel and His Kingdom, passing on the same teachings that Christ taught, and they never teach people to be dependent on their teachings or doctrines, but teach people to be dependent on the Holy Spirit. Good Teacher’s teach the mind and heart of Christ to bring the Body of Christ to a place of really knowing His mind and His will, and being true disciples. Good Teachers always point to Jesus, and not to themselves as the answer.
To be a good teacher, we need to look at Jesus and the way that he taught. He was able to reach a wide audience; men and women of all ages and status. Jesus used parables, stories and everyday objects that people could relate too, to reach principles. He spoke with wisdom and power, and demonstrated the Kingdom of God by healing the sick and the miracles he performed. He spoke with authority – as one who knew the truth, because He had been with God and had the experience and understanding and revelation from Him directly. Teachers can also have revelation from God in what they teach and how they teach and this can, and needs to be fresh and relevant and inspirational.
Jesus was a good teacher because he never used fear or punishment, or control and manipulation to get others to listen to him. People listened to him because he spoke with authority. He knew who he was and what his mission and message was and spoke it clearly and with great wisdom. Jesus knew how to teach with wisdom and how to answer people’s questions (especially those who tried to catch him out). Teachers can also be wise in how they handle people’s queries and questions, bringing wisdom and revelation by the way they handle them. God gives wisdom to those who ask, so teachers can be wise as Jesus was wise. Teachers can be good teachers by looking at our best model and imitating him – not just his methods and styles but imitating Him – His life, His relationship with Father, and His love for others. A teacher who loves His Maker and loves his students, will be the best teacher he can be. Jesus was the greatest teacher. He is our inspiration.
SCHOOL – CLASS WORK:
In small groups, discuss:
1. Describe the qualities, purpose and role of a Teacher? What does this entail?
2. What is a false Teacher? How do they live, what do they teach and what do they do?
3. What is the difference between a False Teacher and a Bad Teacher?
4. How can you become a Good Teacher? What do you need to be like and need to do?
5. What difficulties or challenges can you face as a Teacher? Homework – Journal:
Look back and reflect on some of your teaching ... record the qualities and good practices of a Teacher, and how can you improve your own attitudes and values and practices regarding your gifts and calling in teaching? Write this in your Journal.
Record your personal difficulties as a teacher and reflect on how you can overcome them. Record in your Journal.
3. This week, ask the Lord to refresh and renew your mind and to bring you fresh revelation that you can impart to others.
CHAPTER 4: THE PREACHER - TEACHER
The Pastor, Preacher and Teacher has a calling on their life for the ministry of delivering the messages of the King. Firstly, he or she has a sense of the greatness and reality of God, and has a burning desire within him to share this message with others. The Preacher knows God in the depth of his being and his message has an inner conviction of the truth he is relaying. The messenger also knows he is helpless and lost apart from God. He is dependent on God and humble and teachable in his heart. The Preacher therefore will be dependent on God to speak from the presence of God. An unteachable, unbendable and unmouldable teacher or preacher is unusable in the hands of God.
So the Preacher needs to guard his hearts and guard his life, so that sin, pride, corruption, and unfaithfulness to God or in marriage is not evident in our lives; our lives need true reflection of our Lord, because we are His ambassadors, his message bearers. We do not just carry His message: we carry his authority and his image.
We see this in the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was called and consecrated, and appointed from birth. (Jerm 1:7). God will call and send people he can trust, people who have the right heart and attitude, people who are teachable and willing and obedient to Him, because if we do not have the right heart, we will not have the right message, no matter how trained we are. We are commissioned by God to speak, to teach and preach, not by ourselves, or by man, but by God. So when God calls and sends us, we must go, no matter what our circumstances. And if God is not sending us, then we dare not go.
John the Baptist is described as God’s messenger. He was a prophet and he preached the Word of God. To be a messenger is a very high privilege and yet it is a humble position and one of authority. A messenger is a nobody, sent by somebody, with a message. His job is to pass on the message. The messenger does not construct the message, but delivers it, so he must not change it, add to it and detract from it, or misrepresent the message.
The Preacher prepares the way of the Lord. First he makes room in his own heart and prepares to listen, to hear the message. He then delivers the message, and then he moves out of the way for King so that the King is honoured and has room to move in the prepared hearts of the listeners. As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:20: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making his appeal through us – we implore you on Christ’s behalf; be reconciled to God.”
God needs men and woman of God through whom He can reveal himself, and through whom he can speak his clear message. To speak a clear message, we need to have and be clear channels, because “what we are determines the kind of message our hearers receive. Our personality and personal relationship with God are vital parts of our preaching.” (Lane, Preach the Word, 1988). Godly personality precedes the message. We become an embodiment of the message of God – the message is IN us and part of us: we have lived it and are living it and are then able to speak what we know from our being, our experience and our knowledge of life and God.
The Preacher has the responsibility to make the message part of himself and his own daily life BEFORE he begins to teach the message. He needs to receive the Word into his own life first, to process the message not just in his mind but in his spirit and soul, and work it out in his life before the message can be delivered. In essence, the Preacher becomes the living message, the living Word of God, because the Word is alive and living in him.
John speaks about this in 1 John 1:1-3 he says, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and hears so that you also may have fellowship with us...” So we see that the messenger needs to be fully engaged and part of the Word he delivers – he needs to ‘see it’ with his spiritual eyes, and touch it with his heart. It needs to be living in him.
The messenger needs to be ready and listening as the Lord awakens his heart, mind and spirit every morning, as he did with Isaiah. Isaiah 50: 4- 6 says, “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.” So, morning by morning, the Preacher needs to be awakened and listening to the heart, mind and will of God so that he can relay this message to his people. He will develop an instructed tongue when he learns to listen.
The Preacher needs to be willing to learn and obey God’s word, and have courage to deliver the message, AND he needs compassion and concern for the hearers. He needs compassion so that his message is delivered in love, not in anger, or fear or condemnation, or in any other spirit, but the spirit of love. He needs to be like a Shepherd, who brings good, fresh and relevant ‘food’ to the sheep - the listeners. The Preacher needs to know his people. How can he deliver a relevant message from the Lord when he does not know their needs, or know what is happening in their lives? The Preacher needs to be with them and be part of them (unless he is a visiting preacher) then his message will be relevant and meeting the needs of the people, as well as a message from the heart and mind of God.
SCHOOL – CLASS WORK:
Small group work:
1. Describe and discuss the qualities a preacher/teacher needs to be messenger of
God? compare this with your lives, and pray for one another.
2. Look at either Isaiah chapter 6 or Jeremiah chapter 1, and answer the
a. how did the person see and experience God?
b. how did the preacher/prophet feel about himself?
c. how did God make them feel to enable them to do this work?
d. what are the qualities required of these preachers?
e. what was the content and limitations of the message?
3. Discuss: How can YOU identify with your people, as a preacher?
Homework – Journal:
1. Reflect on what things in a preacher’s life does God use to make them ready for ministry? What can God use in your life to make you ready?
2. How can you develop your knowledge and vision of God?
CHAPTER 5: TEACHING CHILDREN & TEACHING STYLES
In this chapter we are going to look at some secular theorists’ views on development and learning, and educational views and practices in teaching children, and look at teaching styles that we can adopt to teach and train both children and adults. We are looking at these because they ARE relevant and applicable in how we teach and present the gospel and the Kingdom of God to both our children and adults. Firstly, we are going to look a Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and how this relates to teaching children and meeting their needs.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Self Actualization 5th
Self Esteem 4th
Sense of Belonging & love 3rd
Safety and Shelter 2nd
Physical Needs & comfort 1st
Maslow was a Theorist who believed that in order for us to learn and achieve, we need to have our basic needs met first. On the FIRST level, the basic level, there needs to be physical comfort.... the lighting, the space, the temperature, seating, sound levels and distractions, the resources, adequate breaks, accessibility.... all these things are important both to adults and to children and young people’s learning... and needless to say, children from third world countries also need
adequate food and drink, or they will not have the physical and mental strength be
able to focus on learning.
It is important that children’s physical needs are met first, before we begin the process of trying to educate them! If your school, church, children’s home or youth setting is in on the missions field, area of poverty, or in a Third World country, then can I suggest, where possible, that you introduce a feeding programme, perhaps combined with the help of people from the local community.... by implementing this you may also be saving lives and giving children a chance of survival, and hope for the future. If you are on the mission field or areas of poverty, you may also need to add clothing and medical help to this ministry in order to really care for and reach families and children. They need to know that those who are educating them actually care about them.... being cared for and supported will give them a sense of belonging and the motivate them in the future.
The SECOND level of need is about safety and shelter. Children need to be and feel safe with adults, and they need to be sheltered from danger, harm and abuse. Children need to feel ‘safe’, at ease with the people who are caring for them.... including ALL staff and volunteers, if they do not feel safe, they will not be able to relax and flourish in your church, school or ministry. Children need to know they will not be physically beaten, or emotionally or mentally put-down and made to feel small. They need to know they can trust the adults not to sexually abuse them or neglect them. Abuse is serious and damages and traumatises children so deeply that some do not recover.
Children also need shelter – from extreme heat, cold, and wet, danger, from bullying, alcohol and drugs, from cults and from being made to labour hard or work long hours.... they need our protection, and it is up to us to provide that for them. Again, if your work is on the mission field or in areas of poverty, ‘shelter,’ ‘homes,’ ‘parenting’ and protection is a big area of demand and need that your ministry will need to meet, alongside spiritual needs.
The THIRD level of need is about children knowing they belong.... it is about them knowing and feeling accepted and loved by the adults around them and by their peers. Children need to be interactive and need friendships, they need peer support and to feel and know they are not inferior to others. They need a basis for their own self-esteem.
The FOURTH level of need is about children needing self-esteem. Without self- esteem it is hard, if not impossible, for children to gain a sense of their own identity or to accomplish their goals in life. Children will gain self esteem if we provide the right basis for them... if we believe in them, and we show them we care about their needs and we attempt to meet their needs. Some children may be so damaged that it takes years of love and care to help them heal and recover. When we help children to gain self-esteem, we give them VALUE, we empower them to like themselves, to believe in themselves, and believe that they can make a positive contribution to society, and they can achieve. They can be happy about themselves and they can share these values with others.
The FIFTH level of need is when children are self-fulfilled or self-actualisation; they gain a level of respect for themselves and others, a level of self-dignity. They are optimistic, and have positive attitudes about themselves and about life. They feel a sense of achieving... they know their strengths and weaknesses and they are able to realise and achieve their goals in life – it also goes beyond this also level to knowing that they can feel and be self-fulfilled in loving and serving others.
We need to bare these things in mind when we plan lessons or activities for our children, so that we can make the necessary adjustments. Baring these factors in mind, and that children (like adults) learn in different ways, we can plan to make education and activities relevant and observing, and fun for our children.
Theories of Learning
Cognitive (or intellectual) development is the ability for us to think, reason, plan, develop concepts, be creative, use ideas, and problem solve, and use and growth of memory. Some educational theorists believe we are born with these abilities, and some believe they come about by the right sort of nurturing – otherwise known as the nature/nurture debate. Nativists support the idea that humans have innate abilities already deposited in them that cause them to be intelligent and develop in certain ways, whilst empiricists believe that we are moulded by experience, and intelligence is nurtured in a child.
Most modern-day educational theorists take a combined approach, accepting that we are each born with some genetic influences and this is enhanced by nurture and stimulation.
Piaget was a theorist who believed that a child’s way of thinking changes in stages and as they get older, and that they pass through 4 different stages of cognitive development, in the same order, although the ages at which they enter and leave these stages may vary.
The four stages are:
Sensory motor stage, 0-2 years
Pre-operational stage: 2- 7 years,
Pre-conceptual stage, 2-4 years,
Intuitive stage, 4-7 yrs
Concrete operations stage: 7-11 years
Formal operations stage: 11 years upwards
Piaget believed that children develop knowledge through concepts by using and building on previous experiences. He believed children gradually adapt these concepts (which he called schemas) to establish new knowledge and understanding. Children then accommodate new information by integrating it with the old, and changing and adapting their previous understanding. They will continue to use and learn new schemas. Disequilibrium happens when a child is unable to make sense of new information and unable assimilate it; they are therefore in an unbalanced stage, which called, Disequilibrium. As a child accommodates new concepts, they reach a place of equilibrium where they are stable in their thinking and are able to understand new information. Piaget also believed that children under the age of six would not be able to conserve, i.e. understand changes in quantity, size and number, and he used a variety of tests to explore this, however this theory has been challenged by other theorist who found that some pre-operational children were able to conserve when the information/test was presented in a different way.
Piaget was also well known for his theory on discovery learning. He believed that children learn best by being given opportunities to be active learners. He believed that if children given a variety of materials, objects and situations from their everyday life, they will discover and learn through their play.
Vygotsky believed that children need to have access to a variety of objects, materials and situations to develop their play and learning, very much like Piaget, except that Vygotsky placed emphasis on the child’s need for adult input into their play so the child could realise their potential through play situations. He developed the concept of zone of proximal development (ZPD) by studying what a child can achieve playing alone and what they can achieve when some sensitive input from an adult takes place. Vygotsky believed the adult could greatly enhance the child’s understanding through the right input.
Bruner believed that children liked to discover things for themselves, and that children learn through the use of materials that are freely available to them. His theory was that there are three modes of thinking that children use internally to represent the world to themselves as their thinking develops.
Bruner emphasized the importance of first-hand experiences and believed that the simplest thinking involves manipulating materials and aspects of the environment, which he referred to as an active mode of thinking. It links with discovery learning, and is usually present in the 0 to 1 year old.
The next stage is iconic mode, which is where a child’s thinking involves the development of mental images, such as remembering what something or someone looks like. Iconic representation in play shows that the child is relying on and extending their memory and their play is not purely enactive. A photo, for example, will remind them of someone they have met; and a certain smell of cooking will remind them of a meal they have had. The iconic mode develops in 1 to 7 year olds.
The symbolic mode is thinking using symbols such as music and art, number and language. It enables older children to extend their thinking and be able to express themselves through a variety of media. This stage is usually from the age of 7 years, plus.
As mentioned earlier, there are four basic learning styles: the activist, the reflector, the theorist and the pragmatist. These learning styles may overlap, and you may find a child (or adult) has a mixture of two or more learning styles... it is better not to get to tangled or rigid with this, but to be aware of learning styles and how you can help children learn and develop through your awareness.
The activists is a child or person who learns by doing.... they need to be actively involved in their learning.... they need to experiment and practice the principles you teach. They engross themselves in the “here and now” and they learn from games, team tasks, and role-playing. They need excitement and they need a diversity of activities. They will “have a go” at most activities.
They learn LEAST from listening to lecturers or theories or from explanations, and least from reading or inactive watching. They do not learn well from having to analyse or work on their own in reading, writing, or thinking. Activists need stimulating action to learn – that is their learning style.
Most children I would describe as activists.... they need to hear, see, touch and do.... children learn through their five senses.... Children need to explore the world they live in through their senses: through their sense of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. When we want to teach principals or concepts to children, we need to make sure they have the opportunity to use more than one of their senses in the process... they will remember the concepts through their senses. How many of us remember verses of scripture, or stories from the Bible because we sung them and acted out the stories? I remember so many verses of scripture through singing them as a child, and so many stories through acting them or seeing them being acted. We can incorporate times of experience and practice in children’s learning, times of looking and listening, times of activity and times for creativity. It is all part of the learning process... and this is what we need to incorporate in children’s learning.... keep them active and alert, keep in short, keep it lively and interesting, keep it relevant and at their level of understanding, keep it fun !
Reflective learners are those who like watch, think and reflect on what they see and hear, read or do. They like to stand back from events and listen and observe, and they like to think before acting. They need time to carry out research or investigation and to assemble information, and they like to exchange views with others.
They learn LEAST from being forced into the limelight, e.g. taking a lead in role-play or in discussions, or when they are thrown in the deep end, without preparation. They worry about time pressures and don’t do well if rushed into the next activity.
There is a stage when children are very young, when they appear to be reflectors – they stand back and watch others, before they take the risk of joining in. They like to see how things work and how relationships work, before they are ready to ‘have- a-go’. This is a normal part of the development process, and children should not be forced into taking part in activities they are not yet ready to do, e.g. action games, or role-play etc, where they may feel really uncomfortable. In time, after watching and reflecting, and with the right encouragement or coaching, they will feel more comfortable to become actively involved in play and learning activities. As children become young people, it is also good for them to reflect on life, to reflect on their experiences and reflect on their education and all the things they have been taught. Many lessons can be learned through reflective thinking. Reflective thinking can help us to see situations, how they developed, to see our own reactions to them, but also to think about how we can improve things in the future. Reflective learning can start early but continue on into adulthood, and can be a valid learning style.
A Theorists learner likes to know and understand different elements and connections of a theory or concept. They like to have time to explore methodically the associations and inter-relationships between ideas, events and situations.
Theorists learn BEST by listening and reading, research, taking part in question and answers sessions, and debates. They learn LEAST when emotions or feelings are involved, when they are asked to act or decide on something without a solid basis, or when they are not given time or space to methodically cover the theory or concepts in more depth. They may not respond well to games, role-play or practical activities, because this is not their learning style.
There is a stage of development that young children go through, when they are always asking questions about why things are the way they are, or how things work etc. They like to know and understand, to the best of their ability, and they like to investigate and try things out for themselves. It is good to encourage this, rather than to tell them to be quite, or just accept what you say. An inquisitive mind is a growing mind. Wouldn’t you rather children question things and not just accept our statements? Then you know they have a growing intelligence, and you know that they will be able to analyse things and sort things out in their own mind. A child or young person who continues to learn this way, and who likes to analyse theory is a deep and intelligent thinker - these May young people be our future doctors, scientists, educators etc. Encourage children and young people to think and analyse, encourage them to analyse and sort out logical problems for themselves;
But also encourage them to experiment and test out their theories where possible, so there is a solid basis and understanding for their learning.
The Pragmatic learner is a practical, hands-on learner. He or she likes to be SHOWN techniques, not just taught them, and they need to be able to practice techniques. Coaching is the best way to teach a Pragmatic learner. They need things (theories, concepts) to be modelled or demonstrated, they need to be given opportunities to practice, and they need to be coached into improving their techniques. They like to concentrate on practical issues, e.g. action plans with end products, and given ideas and tips of how to achieve their aims.
The Pragmatic learner does not learn well when the lesson or concept is not about an immediate need that they can see or be involved in themselves. They do not like ‘chalk and talk’ and do not learn well from it. They will not learn well if there are no clear guidelines on how to do things or there are too many practical issues or obstacles for them to overcome. The Pragmatic learner likes to see immediate rewards for their effort and work, where this is possible.
Most children are Pragmatic or Activist or a mixture of both, and learn by doing, by being actively involved in their learning, and by being creative and expressive, especially young children. They learn by seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and DOING.
There is a wise saying that goes like this:
I hear, and I forget
I see, and I remember
I do, and I understand
Young children need to DO and be active. If we provide the right way of learning for them, they will learn and not forget.
PLEASE NOTE: these four learning styles do NOT just apply to children: THEY APPLY TO ADULTS TOO! Adults need to be taught in different ways, using different styles. They need to be taught via, their senses, their hearing, sight, touch, taste and by experiences, e.g. practical hands-on experiences and ‘doing’ rather than long spoken sermons that they are unlikely to remember or know how to put into practice! When a teacher/preacher is preparing a message, they need to vary how they present the teaching so that it is not just heard, but really learned and understood. It needs to be broken into small parts and people need to be shown HOW to apply the Word, e.g. you could use illustrations, stories, testimonies and demonstrations. This takes effort and creativity on the part of the teacher/preacher, but is necessary so that the Word of God is firmly planted in the hearts of people. Do you want to be effective preachers and teachers? Then ask the Lord to show you how to be creative and how you present the message He gives you in a way that is understood and not forgotten by the listeners.
Just a note about Resources: we also need to be aware that we need to use a variety of resources to aid learning, which does NOT need to be expensive or difficult to provide – just well-thought out. We need resources that will aid visual learners, like chalk-boards or white-boards, Flipcharts, Felt-boards, Charts, handouts, books, Overhead projectors etc, and we also need resources that children (and adults) can touch, feel, and experiment with. I find demonstrations are very useful when teaching both adults and children. We do not need expensive resources, but we do need resources that children can hear or listen too... this may be through videos or TV or the teacher, or through songs and rhymes. We also need games or creative activities that keep children alert and active in their learning. We need to carefully plan and match HOW we present things and HOW we teach, not just the content of the teaching.
So how should we minister and teach our children in our churches and schools?
We need to teach children, and young people, in a way that is relevant and meaningful to them. We need to teach about the Kingdom of God through songs and stories, crafts, music that youth enjoy, puppets, sports and games – make learning about God GOOD, make it fun, relaxing and enjoyable – give examples, e.g. story of lost sheep – went around church looking for paper sheep – did a story using puppets... Children’s songs and actions teach children about God’s goodness and love. This can be done through school, church, clubs, youth groups etc – we need to USE THE RIGHT TOOLS – if children and young people are relaxed and happy, having fun, they are more likely to REMEMBER IT and to LEARN, and more likely to be building up POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS with you. Some of these children do NOT have positive relationships with any adult – you can be the one!
We need to teach children and young people that they ARE God’s children, they are special, treasured, wanted, loved, and that they can go to their heavenly Father in prayer and ASK him for their needs. Teach them that GOD is a GOOD FATHER – this maybe something they have not experienced – but our Heavenly Father is ALWAYS GOOD, and will never harm them. And lastly, we need to teach by demonstration – be a GOOD ROLE MODEL. Teach them to love by your love for them – teach them to be gentle and kind by you being gentle and kind – they will learn FAR MORE by WHAT YOU DO, THAN WHAT YOU SAY.
1. Describe the 5 levels in Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, e.g.
1st – shelter
2nd - safety
3rd – belonging
4th – self esteem
5th – self actualization
Discuss what these mean, and how your church fellowship/school etc can help to meet these needs in children.
2. DISCUSS the 4 learning styles (Activists, Reflector, Theorists, Pragmatists) and how you can make adaptions to your current approach and style in teaching children and adults.
Look at , and discuss, the 4 Principles of Children’s development and learning:
(a) that children learn in different ways and at different rates
(b) that children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships, with parents and other key people.
(c) the environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children’s development, and
(d) that every child is a competent learner from birth, who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
Think about, and record how you can utilize these principles in your church or school setting.
Homework – Journal:
1. What have you learned from this chapter/lesson, and how will you adapt your approach to teaching children?
2. Start to apply the principles you have learned in your work-ministry and Journal the effects of the changes.
CHAPTER 6: FEEDING THE SHEEP
When Jesus had risen from the dead and appeared to the disciples, he said to Peter, “Peter, do you love me?” then he said, “Feed my sheep.” Pastors and Teachers need to be leading the sheep to green pastures where they can feed people, but they must also teach others to feed themselves, otherwise they will die from lack of spiritual food. We need to be leading people to places of green pasture where they are able to feed on good food and be replenished and nourished.
The purpose of teaching and preaching is feed the sheep: to bring about spiritual maturity in the Body of Christ and to build faith. Teaching and preaching is meant to equip and train the saints, to take the truths of the Word of God and to present it in a way that is fresh revelation, that brings light and hope and strength and direction. Teaching does not mean that we give history or geography lessons (although they may form a small part of it to bring background knowledge). Teaching does not mean we need to bring a load of facts and figures, or even that we need to prove every point with endless scriptures, or cross-referencing, or famous quotes, or use deep theological language and terms or phrases that people really don’t understand. Teaching and preaching is about bring fresh food that actually feeds the sheep!
Teaching and preaching needs to bring something fresh and real: the preacher needs to bring fresh bread, not stale bread that cannot be digested. The message needs to be alive and real to himself first, then he is able to deliver a message that is living to others. The message is not only fresh but relevant to ‘now’: to our lives, our children and marriage, ,and to our time, our culture, our city, our nation, and we need to make sure we identify with our listeners, with the struggles in their daily lives and how to meet them and our teaching needs to be sensitive to people’s needs, whether they are children, older people, young people or young families or a mixture of these.
Teaching and preaching needs to feed the spirit, not just the mind, or it has not done its job, and it needs to be at the right level for the listeners. We cannot give ‘meat’ to the babies, or ‘milk’ to the more mature, otherwise it is indigestible. Often however, we have a mix of people; those who are mature and those who are not – so what then, how do we present the right level of Word to them?
I would suggest that we present a deeper truth by way of illustration or demonstration or present a relevant story, and present it in a way that anyone can understand what is being taught. We can preach the deeper things of God in a way that is simple and easy to grasp. We can preach with profound simplicity and reach both those who are young Christians or babies in the faith and those who are mature. Sometimes we may be able to focus more on the younger ones in the faith, and sometimes the more mature, depending on the listeners present, but whoever is present, it needs to be appropriate and at a level people can grasp and gain fresh insight, revelation and instruction.
My mother used to have a motto when she preached: K.I.S.S. meaning, keep it simple, stupid! It was a note to remind herself that all preaching and teaching needs to be at the level that anyone can understand what she was saying and grasp both the simplicity and the depth of the message. When we preach with profound simplicity. I don’t mean that we just teach the basics, but we can teach deep and profound truths presented in a simple way that all can grasp and understand. All can receive something, no matter where they are in their Christian faith. So with this in mind, the preacher-teacher can take the listeners from the unknown to the known – they can teach or preach by starting where the listeners are, at their current knowledge or understanding, and take them to something that is unknown, or unfamiliar to them, and teach them something that is new to them, like understanding prophecy, because they do it with profound simplicity.
We can teach by connecting and building on what is known, and linking it to what is unknown, which ministers to the spirit, not just to the head. We can teach the unknown by using pictures, illustrations and stories and our own experiences. We can also find some illustrations in everyday objects. We can use ordinary objects as an allegory to teach spiritual truths. We will teach people from what is ‘known’ and then they then make a connection in their mind and spirit to the unknown, the new.
The enemy can come in with lies and deceit, teaching doctrines that are unbalanced or not in line with God’s word. As teachers and preachers, we need to teach the Body of Christ how to feed themselves on the Word of God and how to discern the preached word that they hear. So many Christians are taken in by a ‘new’ or unbalanced teaching, which causes fear and havoc in their lives because they do not know what is truth and what is not.
Therefore it is important that we teach ‘sheep’ how to hear the true voice of the Shepherd, and how to test a teaching/word, and how to balance the word they hear. In doing this we are equipping and teaching people to become mature and responsible for their own spiritual growth and development which will enable them to stand in hard times and enable them to stand when the enemy tries to lure them away with false beliefs and doctrines.
The Word of God is our foundation, and we need to build our foundations on the Rock, Christ Jesus. As preachers and teachers, we need to build a firm and solid foundation in people, so that when the storms come, their ‘house’ is not blown down, but stands strong, because it is build on the rock. We want to build something that lasts, so we need to build the house correctly, upon the rock, with Jesus as the chief cornerstone.
SCHOOL – CLASSWORK:
1. Discuss and describe the aims and purposes of preaching and teaching, and discuss how you can bring “fresh bread” to your listeners.
2. Discuss: how to be preach/teach with profound simplicity?
3. Look at Isaiah 61:1-3 OR Psalm 23
Pray for some fresh revelation on this scripture. Make some brief notes or bullet points about what God has revealed to you and share it with the other groups.
Homework - Journal
1. Look at these 3 passages in Luke and ask the Holy Spirit to give you fresh revelation on them. Make an outline and brief notes about what the Lord has shown you and be ready to share this with others in your group.
a. Luke 10:25-37 Good Samaritan
b. Luke 11:1-13 Prayer
c. Luke 6:46-49 Wise and Foolish Builders
CHAPTER 7: PREPARING THE MESSAGE
There are different ways of preparing messages to teach or preach and different ways of involving people in the messages or teaching. In smaller groups or House- churches, I would prepare my own heart and mind in advance, but not rely on notes so much, but be led by the Spirit and the Sprit of God in others as we interact with one another. I would read the scriptures, ask questions, or ask people to share their experiences or understanding of the subject and how we apply it. This way, people are valued and enjoy sharing and participating in their own learning and spiritual development. We can make the teaching/message all inclusive, and still bring out the points we need to teach. We include prayer and the teaching/message is incorporated into our prayer for one another. If however, we are preaching or teaching to a larger congregation, we may need to prepare and present our message differently.
To be good preachers and teachers/leaders, we need to be disciplined in our preparation of the message we are bringing. Sometimes we need to push-through our barriers – our time barriers and limitations, our distractions, our business and commitments, our pre-conceived ideas, our prejudices, in fact, anything that will distract us and stop us preparing the message.
So firstly, soak in prayer and worship (this being part of our daily lives), and ask the Holy Spirit to open your spiritual eyes, and to speak his message into your heart for the people you are speaking too, to bring you fresh revelation. This also applies if you are following a planned series of teaching/preaching or have been given a subject or Bible reading, or if you have no agenda... (no agenda works best, then the Holy spirit is free to release HIS agenda). You can ask the Holy Spirit to open up the Word and put His message on your heart, and try not to preach the same topic and message you always speak on e.g. your favourite topics, because they wear thin with others, and people stop listening.
Secondly, meditate and study the passage of the Bible or the subject the Lord gives you thoroughly, and soak yourself in it. Study with your eyes and ears open to the Holy Spirit and what he wants to show you; be listening to Him because He is our teacher and guide. When we meditate on the Word and examine it, it becomes part of us and it speaks into our lives, personally, which we then need to apply. Then the Holy Spirit can show us how this passage, this subject and message can be applied to the hearers.
Thirdly, you may need to make some rough notes or message outlines on the passage or the subject that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you about... write down anything that stands out to you, write down important points that need to be made and explanations, write down any significant details about the people involved or their circumstances, or the history and culture and customs that will help others, write down the heart of God and mind of God for the people of that time and for us today, make it relevant to today’s culture and circumstances, and make it personal to your own life and to the lives of the listeners. The message needs to be understood and personalized so that it can be put into practice in modern life, so also note down HOW your message can be applied today, even if you break it down into small steps – application is essential or the message is lost. Most of all speak the message, the heart of what God is saying to you, to others. Don’t miss the main point of the message!
Once you have made some rough notes or outlines, you can add meat to the bones and you can place things in order. You may wish to keep things in the ‘rough’ stages until you are sure you have covered everything you want to and need too, but remember to keep yourself open to the Holy Spirit, who may wish to change your order, or take things out or add things in ! Even on the day you teach or preach your message, the Holy Spirit needs to be given freedom to take charge, to change or redirect your message the way He wants it to go... in this case you may need to abandon everything you have prepared. Please do not be bound to your outlines or notes, so that you cannot respond to the Holy Spirit, but also do not make this an excuse not to prepare your heart or your messages.
Fourthly, when preparing, make sure you make your points relevant and clear, not confusing or ‘over the heads’ of the listeners because of the ‘language’ and terminology you use, or because it is too deeply steeped in theology or history. Remember your job is to equip, train, teach and disciple, not to impress!
You also need to make sure you present your points in a logical manner – your message needs to make sense, so avoid jumping about, forwards and backwards or in different directions, UNLESS the Holy Spirit is leading you in a different way.
Otherwise, try to be logical (but not dry as old bones!) so that others can follow you and make sense of what you are saying, and only stress the main points, the important points that need stressing, and let the Holy Spirit do His job: He speaks to people from little things you say in your message, and it will mean a lot of them. Many times different people have shared with me how the message has blessed them and spoken to them, but different parts of the message spoke to different people about their lives – this is the work of the Holy Spirit, to speak into their lives and make it relevant to them.
Fifthly, you can be creative in the way you present certain parts of the message, e.g. using demonstrations or illustrations or objects may help the listeners to ‘see, hear, and understand’ far more than just listening (which also works well in smaller groups). In my messages, I have often used demonstrations and illustrations, and I often use the listeners as active participants in the demonstrations – they do not forget the message or its meaning when they have seen this and been part of it.
Make sure you know how to end your message – prepare the ending like you would the main passage and the introduction.. Many people end up wandering, or going back to the beginning and back around the circle again, and it spoils, in fact, ruins the effects of the message. Your ending could be a very short summary of your main message, or it could end with a challenge or prayer. Once you have finished writing down your main points and message, bring your message to a clear and quick end with practical application and encouragement, e.g. you might want to ask people to pray with you at the end of the message, or to do something practical when they get home: the message requires a response, so make sure it is part of the message, at the end. When asking people to respond however, please do not over emphasis or ‘bully’ people into responding, or drag out an appeal, just allow a short time to respond, and if they do not, then leave them with the Lord, because if He is speaking to them, He will be on their case until He completes in them what He needs to do.
When you have the main parts of your message together and the closing, you need to write an introduction. It is better to write the introduction last, because by then, you will have a clearer idea of where you are going, therefore a clearer idea of how to introduce the message. Introductions need to be short, not a sermon in themselves, not so melodramatic that the message is empty and boring in comparison, but the introduction is to serve the main theme which leads people to into the message. A good introduction sets the tone of the message and prepares people to hear the voice of the Spirit of God.
You may begin an introduction in different ways, e.g. you may wish to start with an illustration that is familiar to the hearer’s experience, and then apply it to the subject you are going to speak on. You may start with a striking statement or an element of surprise or curiosity. You may start with some humour, that can break the ice and lead you into the message. You may start with a proverb or wise saying which leads into your message. You may start with a question that creates interests in the hearers and links to your message, or you can start with a brief and relevant story that links to your message. You may start with dramatic action or an illustration. You may start by reading the text, but never start with apologising for your message. Whichever way you start, make sure that you vary it the next time you speak, to keep listeners listening! Write your introduction and let to flow into your main message.
Once we have put all the meat on the bones, we can pull everything together. We need to make sure there is logic and flow from beginning to end of your message. We need to be open and flexible to make changes and adjustments and most of all be open to the Spirit of God who may ask us to speak about something we had not planned to include. The message is about Him and for Him and not about ourselves or for ourselves, so we need a heart and mind that is open and teachable so we can convey the message on God’s heart to the listeners.
SCHOOL - CLASSWORK:
In small groups, discuss:
1. Describe the 5 principles below: of preparing a message, and how you can do them.
a. soaking and prayer
b. meditate and study
c. making rough notes and adding details
d. making relevant and clear points .
e. being creative
f. introductions and endings
g. What topics do you normally preach on? What should your contents include?
As a group, prepare an outline (in bullet points) of a message to your church on the topic of forgiving others and relationships. What should you include? Feedback to the class.
Homework - Journal
1. Read through your notes and underline or highlight things that stand out to . you.
2. Prepare a message outline, using rough notes or bullet points using the five . principles above. Include an introduction and conclusion. You can choose your own bible passage or one of the Parables of Jesus.
CHAPTER 8: EXPOUNDING THE MESSAGE
The Scriptures are so vast and contain everything from the history of creation and beginning events, to the Kings and rulers of Israel, the Psalms and Proverbs and Job, the Prophets, The Gospels and the Epistles and Revelation and end events. Our challenge is to know how to present messages and teach from these various books of Scripture in a way that is challenging and meaningful to our listeners, in a way that teaches the right way to live in our modern world, and in a way that teaches, trains, equips and brings people to a place of maturity – our ultimate goal is to prepare and make the Church ready for the coming Bridegroom, and this we can do by prayerful preparation of our hearts and minds, with the Holy Spirit our teacher and guide. Bearing this in mind, we can approach Scripture in different ways, to make the Scriptures live. The principles taught here can be used in home groups and house- churches, and in larger congregational settings.
Involve the listeners.
Whether in small house groups or house churches, or larger congregations, we can, and should involve people in our messages ... in giving testimonies, readings, demonstrations, questions and answers.... Learning that is interactive will be remembered!
Illustrations and demonstrations
Illustrations and demonstrations should bring fresh light and understanding to the hearer through pictures and actions. They make enable the hearer to see something that is difficult to grasp, more plain.
We need to be very familiar with the illustrations or demonstrations we use and make sure we use the right one that fits the point we are making. We need to make sure we use the illustration or demonstration for just one thing, one point, otherwise the hearer will become confused or bored by the time we have finished.
We also need to make sure that we use illustrations that are appropriate to the culture, (and ages) of the listeners; if we use illustrations or demonstrations that they are unfamiliar with from our own culture, they will not be able to relate to the illustration and its meaning to the message. An example of this is when my son Jon was with me on a mission trip to Africa. He was speaking to some school children in assembly, and he used a story as an illustration. The story was about a man who bought many cows, more than he needed, to pay his dowry for his bride to be, who was only worth one cow in their culture. He compared this to the children’s worth in God’s eyes. They understood. This illustration-story was appropriate to the children’s culture and it really helped them to grasp their worth. If he had used an illustration from our culture about buying the most expensive car or clothes or watch etc, it would not have meant so much to them, and the illustration would have been misunderstood: so we need to fit all demonstrations and illustrations to the audience so they really grasp the point we are making.
We may find sources for illustrations from Bible characters and events, or from history, or from topical events, or from everyday events in life, but we also need to remember that illustrations have limitations, so we need to choose one that best fits the message and audience we are speaking too.
I have used demonstrations that involve objects e.g. building bricks to make a wall that keeps barricades us in and keeps God out, I have used stones to demonstrate hardness or sin, bad and good fruit to represent the how we ‘taste’ to others, ropes and ties to demonstrate bondage and unforgiveness, chairs to demonstrate barricades and bridges between people, and I have used people in the audience to illustrate points. It is simple but profound and people do not forget once they have seen and heard something being demonstrated in front of them. Essentially, I use objects that people know and relate too, and link it to the message in a way that they can clearly see the point that is being made.
We may wish to begin our message, end our message, or use a little bit of humour in our message to bring some ‘lightness’ and life and freedom to our listeners.
Using humour in our preaching and teaching can be a very useful tool in breaking the ice, e.g. in the introduction, or introducing a subject that is sensitive or difficult to talk about. Humour disarms us and it lightens our ‘heaviness’ and our disappointments, and helps us to refocus. It is also good for breaking down barriers, and for breaking down fears and misunderstandings or misconceptions about people and ‘where they are coming from.’ Humour can bring home a point we are trying to make in a way that other methods cannot, because humour helps us to let down our defence systems and begin to open-up to receive the message we need to hear. Humour can also be good to end a message that has been sensitive or ‘heavy’, leaving the listeners feeling ready to receive what has been said, rather than avoiding the subjects because of their intensity. Humour is a good tool that can teach wisdom, and helps us to identify with others in their mistakes. When we use humour in the right way, right dosage, right amount, it can be very effective.
Stories and Events
If we are preaching or teaching from a story or event that happened in the bible, we need to start with the context, the background or leading up events, then you use your imagination alongside the text, and live out the drama in your own mind.
You could imagine how each of the characters (or the main character) may have been thinking and feeling at different times (from scripture), and why they responded or reacted in the way they did, and how Jesus, or God, impacted their lives. The story needs to live for you first, or it will not live for your hearers. Much can be learned from biblical stories, how people react and respond and how this interweaves with God’s plans and purposes. People need to be able to identify with these characters, their feelings and circumstances, and then relate this to their own feelings and circumstances and how God can impact their lives also. We need to make the passage come alive, and make the message clear and relevant to the listeners!
If you are preaching or teaching from the Psalms, remember that they are poetic, containing devotion, prayer and worship, human pain, failure, fear, sin and repentance, disappointments and many other human experiences. Some of the psalms are also prophetic. We can share in the Psalms and identify with the expressions of love and devotion, pain and cries for help, and join in with joyous proclamations. The Psalms speak from the heart and spirit, not the head, and they engage us in our relationship with the Lord.
We need to find out as much as possible about the experiences that lie behind the Psalm, and we can share the background story of the writer, which then connects the hearers with the person and his feelings and why he felt that way. It helps people to understand the writer’s feelings and helps them to engage and identify with their own feelings. We may also want to use modern-day examples: testimonies, experiences and true-life stories that connect with the Psalms, which will engage and connect people’s spirits to the eternal truth of who God is. Any one of the Psalms can become relevant to us personally, and to how we feel today; this is where we can to help our hearers connect their lives to His Spirit, to open up to Him, allowing Him to minister to them. We can connect our hearers with eternal truths and Godly principles, with the faithfulness and love of God, that never changes or ceases.
So to teach or preach on a Psalm consider preparing by:
1. Finding out background information on the circumstances behind the Psalm.
2. Find out the problem that the Psalmist was facing, and find out how he tackled
3. Relate the particular problem of the Psalmists to the present problems of the hearers, and how they can overcome their problems also. Make it practical and applicable and let it minister to their hearts not just their heads.
The challenge we face when preaching on the Epistles, is knowing what to leave out, and how to do the passages justice, when they are packed with rich and deep material. Some general guidelines to follow if we are preaching or teaching from the Epistles:
1. Make sure the main theme of the passage clear in our own minds, before we start to expound it, otherwise we can misinterpret what Scripture really is saying. If we have a good grasp of the passage and the problem the Apostle-writer is dealing with, then it will keep us from presenting things in an unbalanced way – we also need to pay attention to verbs in these passages, because they hold the whole passage together.
2. We need to know the circumstances of the people the letter was written too: when we have a little bit of background knowledge, it will give us a clearer picture of why the Apostle lays down certain principles and guidelines and how to apply them today. Paul wrote to the Galations because they went back to law-keeping instead of living by Grace, James wrote to a different audience, a different set of people with different problems: they were relying on head knowledge that was not producing good fruit in their lives. Knowledge and understanding of the context is all important so that we know how to correct interpret and apply what is being said in the Epistles.
3. When tackling the Epistles, we also need to keep a check on the subjects we chose to keep a balance of teaching. Most preachers have subjects they like to speak on but we can become overbalanced if not kept in check. We also need to tackle doctrine and ethics, and practical application in our preaching so that doctrine can connect to the hearts of our listeners in a way that is meaningful.
4. We need to avoid over-complicating the plain meaning of words in scripture and it’s interpretation. Sometimes we look too deep. Sometimes scripture just means what it says – Simple!.
5. When interpreting Scripture, we also need to make sure we avoid interpreting Scripture in a way that it contradicts other passages of scripture. We interpret Scriptures with Scriptures, and by comparing Old and New Testament Scriptures, to gain a whole picture and a good balance and understanding of the gospel and Kingdom of God.
Some guidelines for teaching or preaching on the books of the Prophets would be, firstly, to find out as much as we can about the circumstances of the day, the way people lived, their experiences their fears or problems, their good and bad points – then we can understand the kind of message the prophet was bringing the from God. We may need to read some commentaries and research well before we begin to preach on these topics.
We need to look at the history and context, the culture, the language, the people, the circumstances and the time era to whom the book was written before we can teach or preach on this subject. Many of the Prophets lived in times of chaos, crisis, changing governments and rulers and a changing society as we do today, so a message they spoke to their people then, can be just as relevant to us today, e.g. social justice.
An Old Testament Prophets’ primary job was not just foretelling the future, but someone who spoke forth what God had to say about their current situation. They spoke out about religious idolatry, about social, moral, ethical and the political life in their time, e.g. Amos spoke out about the materialistic businessmen who could not wait for the religious festivals to finish so they could continue their business affairs, but their business affairs were corrupt, their weights and measures were unjust. We can teach or preach on this, looking at the context then, and comparing this to corruption in our time and age.
Secondly, we need to know what God had to say to this human condition and the answers he gave to their situation. Mankind do not change over the years and we are preaching to the human condition, so we need to know what the condition was then, and to translate that into the experience of our hearers.
Thirdly, we need to pay attention to the symbolism the prophets used, and to grasp their meanings, making it applicable to us today. Ezekiel and John were told to eat scrolls, meaning they were to digest the Word of God. We can apply this symbolism to ourselves to reading, studying, digesting and applying the Word of God in our lives. Jeremiah was sent down to the house of the Potter to watch him form a vessel that was spoiled in his hand, but the Potter remade it into another vessel. God spoke to the prophet through this symbolism about how he wanted to make and mould his own people. This symbolism can be applied to our lives so well. Much of the symbolism the prophets used was picture language to bring home a message to his people – many of these symbols are relevant to us today, so we may relate what happened back then, to our current, present condition.
Teaching about end-time events
Many prophetic passages are Messianic, in that they point to the either the birth of Jesus as the coming Messiah, or they point to the second coming, the New Jerusalem and the re-establishing of the throne of David, the establishment of the Kingdom of God that will rule eternally. Other prophetic passages speak of other events that will happen in Israel, Jerusalem and in the world at large before the establishment of the Kingdom of God on this earth.
We find Messianic prophecies in Psalms, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and many other Old Testament passages, and the future and coming Kingdom is prophesied by Jesus in the book of Matthew, and also found in the Epistles e.g. Thessalonians, and
Some of the prophetic passages and the book of Revelation needs further study and enlightenment. By fitting together background information, comparing prophetic Scriptures, comparing Old and New Testament prophecy and symbolism, we can begin to understand some of the prophetic passages and their meanings regarding future events. Prophecy of this nature needs to be understood as timelines, with some events or time periods that may overlap, some has come to pass, some is happening now, and some of the events prophesied are yet to take place, and are given to warn us and prepare us for these events.
If we are going to prepare some teaching on forth coming prophetic events from the Prophets, we will need to do a lot of careful study and research and comparison to gain a comprehensive understanding of the subject ourselves first, then we would need to know how to break this information down and present it in ways that the hearers can see, hear, grasp and understand, and be able to show the hearers how this is relevant to them today, without making them fearful, but hopeful and ready for His return.
SCHOOL - CLASSWORK:
In small groups:
1. Describe any difficulties you have had in the past, in expounding your message, and talk about things that worked well for you.
2. Describe and discuss the different ways that you can expound your messages.
3. In small groups, prepare a message on one of the Epistles or Psalms, in rough notes/outline and bullet points, using the previously taught principles, but expound it by adding at least two of the following:
- an illustration or demonstration
- a story or testimony
- a touch of humour
Homework – Journal:
1. Look through your class notes and highlight or underline things that stand
out to you and note down why they do.
The essence of being a good Pastor-Shepherd and Teacher is in our character and relationship with the Father, in really knowing the Shepherd as our own, having his heart for the flock, being willing to lead and guide into green pastures, leading the sheep to feed for themselves and feeding the sheep with a good healthy spiritual diet and also being willing to lay down our lives for the sheep. Our aim as Pastors is to be like Him, the Good Shepherd.
To become good Teachers we need to also have the heart and mind of Christ within us, letting His Spirit transform our thinking, our motives, our attitudes and our own lives first so that we can make true disciples. Good Teachers will bring ‘fresh bread’ to the table, truth is revealed by the Holy Spirit and truth that is embedded and balanced by the whole Word of God. To be good Teachers we need to look at Jesus and the way he taught, using parables, stories, objects, and operating in the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit and demonstrating this his lifestyle, miracles and healings. He demonstrated his love for us by laying down his life for us. What greater Teacher is there than this? Then we as Teachers and Pastors can aspire to be like Him.
When God relates to us and speaks to us, he addresses the whole man, and this is essence is what we need to do also when we teach and preach. We need to address the mind, to challenge people’s thinking, to address issues and concepts they are struggling with in a way that is logical, clear, and life changing. We need to address the mind when we teach God’s principals and ways, so that people clearly understand what they need to do, how, and why.
We need to address emotions and will of people as well, in order to turn people’s hearts to God, as Peter did when he addressed the crowd at Pentecost: first they felt conviction of their sins, their hearts were pierced, and then they cried out, ‘what must we do to be saved?’ This involved their will, their choice.
Our will is when we make a conscious choice to either follow God, to submit to him, or not too, and our messages need to bring people to a point where they make a choice. Preaching that informs the mind only, leads to knowledge. Knowledge alone leads to intellectualism and pride; knowledge ‘puffs up’ as it says in first Corinthians. If preaching and teaching only informs the mind, then we have not done our job properly. However, preaching that only moves on the heart and emotions leads to emotionalism with no real understanding or commitment to know God in a deeper way. And preaching that only affects the will can lead to religious control and legalism, that is why we need preaching and teaching where there is a balance between all three – the mind, the emotions and the will.
Our message needs to be comprehensive, empathic, clear and relevant, timely and appropriate, and most of all, the living word of God, and daily bread is fresh, not stale, but alive and life-changing. Most of all, we must remember that WE ARE THE MESSAGE, not just our words. We are being changed from glory to glory and daily we need to receive more revelation, more of Him in our lives. We carry the message of God within us because we have a living, intimate relationship with the King, with the one we represent; therefore we become the message because we have lived it first, and then we able to preach the message that the Lord has worked in our hearts.
Armitage A, et el, 2003 (2nd edition), Teaching and Training in Post-Compulsory Education, Open University Press, England
Crause Less D, 2003, Identifying Today’s Pastor, Apostolic Movement International, US
Crause Les D, 2003, Identifying Today’s Teacher, Apostolic Movement International, USA
Lane D, 1988, Preach the Word, Evangelical Press, England
Lee V & Gupta, 2001, Children’s Cognitive and Language Development, Open University Press, England
Grigg R, 2011, Parenting and Working with Children, Lulu, England