Jesus once said, "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up inhis heart. For out of the
overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." The heart is a wellspring
of life. What infects the heart, influences the rest of the person.
There is a way of teaching that
is actually teaching and there is a way of teaching that is nothing more than
information dumping. Similarly, there is a way I should talk to my wife
that actually engages her and there is way where I only state facts and stay
disconnected. I've done both in case you are wondering. In the first option I have a dynamic understanding of what
is being discussed, while in the second I am reading I teleprompter or
transcript and will forget it when I am done reading.
I am afraid that many teachers
and preachers are not teaching or preaching at all. They are just dumping
information on people. I have seen it happen in the business world when
someone gives a presentation that someone else was meant to do. I have
seen it in parenting when after you read the latest parenting technique you
follow the script without a broader understanding. And I have certainly seen it
in the church! If you find yourself in the role of teacher for the
Church, here are some caution flags.
- You are not teaching if you are second-handing your
teaching material. If you regurgitate sermons, commentaries and lecture
notes and don’t teach from your own
material. it's not teaching.
- You are not teaching if you are content to teach the same things from
the same notes over and over again. Of
course you often teach the same things, but if you never adjust, make changes or
add new insights you are not teaching.
- If you are preacher and your sermon prep started and ended on saturday you are probably not preaching. You are not allowing anytime for
the text to marinate in you heart. You
read a few commentaries, take what they say, get an illustration from a book or
internet article and the sermon is completed.
You haven’t preached it to yourself or applied it all week. You are just passing information from a book
to a person. You may get angry people
don’t remember what you preached on, but in all honestly, you won’t either.
- You are not teaching if as a professor at a school, you teach from the
same lecture notes you did 10 years ago.
There is no update, no interaction with new (helpful or not)
scholarship. You don’t think about how
your students have changed or how they are receiving what you are teaching. You are just dumping information.
- You are not teaching if you don’t adjust your teaching style according
to culture. We see this in TLI A LOT,
and is something I have had to learn (the hard way if I am honest). Again, you don’t have a dynamic relationship
with those you teach.
What causes information dumping? Laziness. As a pastor or teacher or both, you have been tasked to study and feed the people of God. You have not been tasked to feast for a few years in school and then fast for the rest of your ministry. Feed yourself. Feed the sheep. Jesus said that somewhere too.
Darren Carlson is the Founder and President of Training Leaders International. As President, Darren oversees the general direction of the ministry and serves as an advocate for pastors with little access to formal training and thoughtful cross-cultural theological engagement. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.