Bible Teacher, Evaluate Your Methods and Your Heart
Once after I delivered a teaching on Matthew 9:37-38, an exuberant woman bolted to the platform. Assumedly, she was ready to serve Christ no matter what the cost. My presumption was dead wrong. She was out of breath because she was dying to know where I’d bought the dress I was wearing. (Trust me, there was nothing flashy about the dress!)
That’s it? After umpteen hours of prayer, careful preparation, and delivery that rivals birthing a baby . . . was the audience more captivated by my clothing than my exposition of Matthew 9?
Coaching from more experienced Bible teachers and helpful evaluation tools are shaping me into a better communicator. I’d like to do the same for you, fellow teacher. I’m still learning, but here are some tips to size up your next teaching and prepare to open God’s Word for women.
As You Prepare
First, digest the Word for yourself before you dare to offer it to another. Let’s invite the living Word of God to grab us, shake us, move us, purify us, and transform us. Do we tremble in awe with tears of repentance over our sin and tears of joy for the gospel that rescued our hell-bent souls (Isaiah 66:2)?
Even the most scholarly exegesis is lifeless if it isn’t lived out with conviction (1 Thessalonians 1:5). When the message is real in your own life, it has a better chance of becoming real in other lives. It’s been often repeated, “A message prepared in a mind reaches minds; a message prepared in a heart reaches hearts; but a message prepared in a life reaches and changes lives.”
I learned from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth to guard from teaching further down the road than I’ve actually traveled. When a teacher speaks honestly and passionately from her authentic Christian walk, there’s a power in the proclamation that cannot be faked.
The Role of Prayer
Throughout each stage of preparation, there is none equal to prayer. Too many messages are developed by adding sprinkles of prayer rather than soaking them in it. Their impact may be successful but short-lived.
To look to Christ to open the heavenly storehouse and give His message for a particular audience cannot be rushed. I ask for a list of people who are attending if it’s available. Like Paul labored for the Galatians, labor in prayer over the names beforehand as if each one is your own child (Galatians 4:19). Then afterward, pray for an abundant harvest of eternal fruit.
Prayerlessness dilutes gospel teaching into a nice speech devoid of the Spirit’s power. A teacher who feasts on the Word in daily repentance and communion with Jesus will have something to say that’s worth listening to for one reason alone . . . because the message originates from God through prayer.
Readying for Presentation
God will employ each one’s unique giftings, but while your teaching is taking shape, let these prompts be a guide:
-- Is the teaching applicable to the specific audience, including all ages represented?
-- Are the illustrations appropriate, adding clarity to the text without distracting from it?
-- Am I faithfully expounding what the text is saying and why it matters?
-- Do I invite listeners to personally ask, “Now what?” and then give opportunity for response?
-- Is the grand story of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation more prominent than my life story in this message?
-- Is the core of the message God-centered instead of man-centered?
-- Will people recognize our desperate need for Jesus, while at the same time delighting in His provision of grace?
-- Do my words exalt anything other than the supremacy and loveliness of Christ?
-- Am I teaching to please people or to please God alone (Galatians 1:10)?
Seasoned teachers who can give objective feedback are a godsend. If one isn’t accessible to you, try critiquing an audio recording or videotaping of yourself. I find this very hard to do but worthwhile. You may discover some quirky habits as I have. A word of caution: Don’t be so hard on yourself that you feel defeated. Some things to consider:
-- Was my speech delivered at a comfortable pace with voice intonation and appropriate facial expressions?
-- Did I exhibit gospel joy? (Deliver me from deadpan teachers!)
-- Was I relaxed or overly nervous?
-- Did I adequately rehearse the material? Did I rely too heavily on notes?
-- Did people engage with the Word, believing it is accessible and desirable?
-- Was my communication humble, yet confident in God’s purpose and plan for it?
My best advice after the “amen” is to rest. You’ve just expended a huge amount of energy and are physically, emotionally, and spiritually depleted. Guard your mind from the self-torture of what you should or shouldn’t have said. Satan knows when your flesh is weak, and he will try every trick to make you feel like a miserable failure. The Word of God is a life raft to keep from sinking while under the assault. Renewing our minds in Scripture fortifies us to aptly dismiss the lies of the enemy and replace them with the real truth.
God’s approval is what ultimately counts. Look to Him, not people, for affirmation. Make a few notes if the Spirit brings suggestions to mind while the teaching is fresh, but otherwise, close your teaching notes and anticipate the next assignment.
It’s liberating to know we can leave the results to God. Trust in the unfailing power of His Word — not your human words (Isaiah 55:11). It’s not a teacher’s responsibility to change hearts. Our responsibility is to be faithful to Christ and His gospel — nothing more and nothing less.
By Leslie Bennett