It’s important to understand the basics of good teaching in order to be an effective minister. As arrogant Americans who have mastered the art of shutting ourselves off both from God and the people around us, we must come back to the basic principles that govern the teaching ministry and abide by them—the future of our lives and generations to come depend on it.
Our world is global by default. We have the technology to be connected to all corners of the earth. With this in mind, we need to make sure we are culturally aware by default. People are turned off by American cultural Christianity, but not by the gospel. See, as a Christian I have a ministry in the world, so I need to be aware of the cultural setting of my learners.
Luther is most responsible for making us think catechetical, but what’s tragic is that we’re slowly shutting off to this for a number of pathetic reasons that have a lot to do with how lazy we are as a nation. Catechesis has to do with getting a good handle on scripture and Christian tradition before one officially goes in to the teaching ministry of the church. This seems like an obvious necessity to anyone who cares to go in to the ministry, but so often you hear of youth pastors and leaders of the church who fall flat on their face in terms of knowing scripture well and having a good grip on how to teach that. We need to be asking ourselves hard questions about our faith and our handle on scripture before we can be effective ministers. What do I believe about scripture in light of my tradition? What does my tradition say about scripture?
Now stepping into the role of the teachers, they need to make sure their lives are an exhortation to live a life with God. Simply said, your life is to be an example of how to live a Godly life. We are supposed to be lights in dark places. Are you standing out so that everyone around you knows without a doubt that you are a Christian? People should see you live your life and envy you! This isn’t selfish. Your faith, or should I say your life, should be drawing people in not pushing them away. Are people jealous of your relationship with God to the point that they seek if for themselves? This is the objective.
The teacher must have discernment towards people. This means understanding people’s human situation and discerning where to go from that. We as teachers need to teach in the context of community. God made a lot of us and commanded us to love each other. We are a community by default. Inevitably we will meet people who believe different things about God than we do. Discernment is all about getting to know these people and engaging them appropriately. Do teachers have the desire to know their students? The more you know your students the better you can discern how to teach them.
Above all, be Christian! Love God with all you heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Pursue your questions you have about God. And, don’t you dare become blind to the beauty you see in this world. You see God everyday. Don’t forget that. Go show this beauty to others.