Education

Expectations Regarding Church Leaders and Administrators

Many who serve in the church as pastors and teachers take 2 Timothy 2:15 as their life verse. It states, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). This was the Apostle Paul's exhortation to Timothy. He urged him to remain faithful to his pastoral calling, and to his duty to the church in which he ministered. It is also an encouragement to church leaders to press on through difficult times, and continue to fulfill their leadership roles within their congregations. It is a worthy goal, and one that requires discipline and diligence.

The pastor is Christ's example to the church. He is to "pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace" (2 Timothy 2:22). He is held to a high standard of pure and godly virtues because he shepherds God's flock, and we are His sheep. The pastor must accurately teach Scripture by consistently presenting God's intended meaning. He must explicitly show the purpose for which Scripture was written.

Leadership Qualifications +

The resources for teaching God's people are provided through His spiritual gifts. They are special abilities given by His grace. The gifts of prophesying, preaching, and teaching are the means whereby God's message is communicated to strengthen, encourage, exhort, and correct the people of God, as well as calling the lost to salvation. Paul instructed Timothy to, "Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline." Timothy was to work at his gift, and exert himself to strengthen it. This requires a love for the word of God, His people, and a firm dedication to both; therefore, the message must connect the listeners to God by using thoughtful and practical applications. God has specifically called certain individuals to dedicate themselves to this type of service. Those called must present to Him their very best, and work to bring listeners into harmony with God's will through His word and the Holy Spirit.

Pastoral Training +

The church faces an invasion of heresy and godless practices. There is growing pressure to present non-threatening and less offensive messages that erode the truth of God's word. The early church faced these very same battles. The church of Galatia is one such example. Paul admonished them saying, "You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?" (Galatians 3:1). They had received the gospel of grace, but had reverted to a works-based salvation. Such teaching is dangerous and must be admonished and corrected.

Prophesying, preaching, and teaching are special endowments from the Holy Spirit, yet, to be a pastor does requires a bachelor's degree, a graduate study in seminary, and a Masters of Divinity. To complete these requirements is no small task. It is a profession that one should feel strongly called to do, and is passionate about the work. Anyone who feels the Lord is leading him into a pastoral profession should consult his pastor and other Christians for prayer and advice. He should ask about the joys, sorrows, burdens, and duties involved in this type of ministerial work.


Training Effective Teachers +

God's message must be projected through accurate preaching and teaching. Peter explained, "But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (1 Peter 1:25). This is the way God's message is conveyed; through the preaching of His word. His authority is in His word, and His word is what changes those who hear it (Romans 10:17). Many Sunday school teachers have the desire to teach, but have not had any formal training such as the pastor has had. They may lack the organizational skills that are necessary to prepare a thoughtful presentation. Other times the preparation is thorough, but their speaking skills may need work. Fortunately, both can be nurtured through learning proper lesson preparation and oral coaching.

In every biblical narrative or spiritual principle there is a key point which cannot get buried in fragmented thoughts. The main idea must prevail. Supporting points must uphold the main thrust of the lesson without distracting from its message. Establish what the point of the message is and state it clearly.


Preparing the Lesson +

Lessons, above all, must be prayerfully selected and taught. A lesson book can be a valuable guide; however, it should never take the place of Scripture. Read the Scriptural text; it is your inerrant guide. Many lesson books have been published containing inaccuracies, so don't take for granted that someone else got the story right. As you pray through the lesson preparation, ask for the Spirit's guidance so your thoughts align with God's will.

Observation +

While reading through the biblical text of the lesson, observe what is happening or what is being taught. Observation is merely asking yourself the age-old questions of: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. Who is speaking? Who is being spoken to? What are they saying? Where is the action taking place? Does the action take place in a palace, a home, a wilderness, a city? When did the action take place? Did it happen during a certain season, a festive celebration, a time of war? Look for why the action took place and how it happened. These aspects of the text require reading through the scriptural passage multiple times, but it will be well worth the effort to familiarize yourself with it. The more the passage is ingrained into your thinking, the easier it is to present. Your observations become the foundation of your presentation.


Interpretation +

Next, look for what the passage means. The Bible was written for our understanding, and so our task is to understand its intended meaning. We must pay attention to the details as we develop our theme at this point. The theme must fit within the Bible's broader teaching of the subject. Scripture confirms Scripture, and that is why other passages lend support to help us clarify the meaning of the text. Use clear biblical passages to interpret those which are less precise. This also helps to avoid misappropriating Scripture by taking it out of its context.

At this point within lesson preparation, you should be able to create a thematic sentence based on the biblical text. This is the key point and is the big idea. It states what the scriptural author is talking about, and what he is saying about what he is talking about (Robinson, 43). [1]


[1] Robinson, Haddon W. Biblical Preaching. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001.


Application +

Now that we have the big idea, next we must apply the big deal. What does the point of the passage have to do with us? This is where the characters or principles are applied to us as we live in today's world. There may be centuries separating us from the days of the biblical writings, but people have never changed. We all feel love, joy, grief, sorrow, pain, disappointment, and more, in the same way as the Bible characters did. This is why biblical principles, which were taught then, are still relevant today because we all share the same emotions and experiences. Here is where the lesson becomes personal and must provoke a change within the listener. God's word is meant to transform us by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). As we hear His message, it should lead us to the goal of personal holiness. This is the Christ-like change that God desires for us. It is important to be specific about what needs to be changed so there is no misunderstanding. If it is a call to be compassionate toward the poor, then give specific suggestions. If it is a call to renew broken relationships, then give precise examples. If it is a call to support missions, then present the needs of missionaries which the church supports. This is God's personal call to take action, and His personal message to us.


Age Appropriation +

Also, good oral presentation requires one to align the subject matter according to the age and type of audience. Even the youngest children can learn valuable biblical principles when presented in short bursts, and in a variety of activities. Children were valuable to Jesus as He drew them to Himself, and so, their lessons require preparation as well. The lesson must be underscored through the use of simple storytelling, songs, crafts, reenactments, dress up, and more. Proper planning must not be overlooked merely because the students are so very young. They are capable of understand basic biblical principles of salvation, prayer, God, Christ, sin, forgiveness, and so much more.

Older children and teens +

As children mature their attention span grows. They also have a desire for creative learning environments, and diverse activities need to be employed to keep them engaged. During these years, Scripture memorization can be optimized through sign language and songs. Children need to be encouraged to make good choices, and learn to help others through simple activities.

Teens need to be prepared for adolescence where, again, good choices are reinforced. They also need healthy outlets in which to spend their energy. These activities can be the platform to include biblical training where valuable principles in sportsmanship, teamwork, and citizenship are conveyed. During this time in their lives they may begin to have questions and doubts. Their thoughts and actions must be corralled into concrete biblical principles where they develop personal godliness.


Adults +

As adults, our lives become congested with careers, marriage, childcare, household duties, and sometimes senior care. Attention to these issues is critical. Peer support must be included in the lesson preparation, and be sensitive to the specific needs of the audience. Each person has had a lifetime of unique experiences and may be able to contribute godly insight to a particular subject. Class discussions should be encouraged and valued, and yet, remain focused on the key point. As individuals mature in their faith, each should be encouraged to mentor younger students. Older men and women are instructed to live self-restrained lives that show dignity, faith, love, and kindness so God's word will not be dishonored (Titus 2:2-4). The wisdom of the older generation is a vast reservoir which can be channeled into the lives of young believers. There is no retiring from passing godly insights onto the next generation.

The time that is put into praying, studying, and preparing the lesson is worth every moment, because both you and your listeners will benefit from the exposition of God's word. We must continue to be faithful in the task of teaching knowing that, one day, we will all answer to God for what we have done in this life. The apostle Paul has urged us to, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth," (2 Timothy 2:15). May we continue studying and being faithful to the task of teaching for the sake of His kingdom. God's word is our treasure. Let's be diligent in sharing the wealth.

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