Less Teaching, More Learning
YESTERDAY, I LISTENED to a genuinely profound and helpful eighty-minute teaching message. But I’m afraid that, in a week’s time, very little will be left in the hearts and minds of the hungry young Japanese people who also listened to it. This isn’t a reflection on the excellent content! But what about the teaching method? I need to reflect on how much “teaching” I do and how little learning takes place when I “teach”.
When a friend shows interest in the Gospel, most people say, “Come to church”. Even after ten or twenty years in church, being taught, they are not confident to share the Gospel themselves and lead that friend to Christ. When a new believer comes to Christ and asks about baptism or receiving the Holy Spirit, they call the pastor or enrol them in a follow-class.
When their friend is sick, they call someone “mature” to pray for them. Most people are not confident enough to explain those truths or pray themselves, nor to disciple a new believer. In spite of all our teaching!
I may crisscross the earth teaching but am I really making disciples?
So what does discipling look like? A few suggestions to get us started:
Discipling does not take place in a superficial relationship or a classroom setting but when we share our lives in an ongoing context. Over meals, on trips, sharing ministry, praying and playing together. Can we build that into our lives more?
Can we identify and focus on a few? Jesus taught the crowds but discipled just a few.
Can we make sure our teaching content is simple, doable and maddeningly repetitive? Till our friends really do it.
Can I work harder on two-way communication? I learn from my student as we explore faith and obedience together. Impossible in most of our teaching settings!
Let’s aim obsessively to develop a chain reaction, where our students quickly disciples others. When we verify that they’re obeying what we have shared and passing it on to the next generation of followers, we can rejoice that we have taught effectively.
I believe strongly in what I have just written, that it’s what Jesus modelled and told us to do – but I still do so much more “teaching” than discipling. I wonder why!
Jo and Jenny’s passion is to help a new generation of young people, many sons and daughters, to make disciples of unreached ethnic groups.
Jo and Jenny live in Osaka, Japan.