It started out as a video to help churches prepare for the new God’s Word for Life curriculum. I simply intended to tell leaders what was different in the new material. But to do that, I had to analyze where we’ve been in our teaching and where we need to go. And that’s where it got controversial.
In the video below, you’ll see that halfway through, I tiptoe into sacred cow pastures. You see, I think at times we focus on the sizzle instead of the steak, about the excitement factor and appearance over the core: discipleship and spiritual growth. I want our kids to have fun at church, our adults to be engaged, and I want our teaching environment to be exciting. But if church staff members and volunteers have a limited budget of time, let’s be sure we’re investing it in the most important places. So let me ask some controversial questions:
1. Why do you teach the way you do?
What’s your most important priority? Are you teaching to convert newcomers, to keep seasoned saints engaged, to drill in Bible stories, or…? In the same ways we have to decide our ratio of evangelism efforts and discipleship efforts at a church level, we need to set our priorities in individual classes. What’s most important for you to accomplish? Then evaluate every part of your typical class session and all you do all week long. Cut or minimize anything that doesn’t contribute to that mission. Controversy alert: It might be time to redirect decorating efforts or attention-getter ploys into relationship-building efforts.
2. Are people learning if they’re not asking questions?
I learned to cook by asking my mom why my roux tasted burnt. I learned to drive by asking my dad why the car lurched forward when I let off the clutch. How will people learn to live the Apostolic life if the church offers no forum to ask questions? Controversy alert: Now is the time to break your large kids’ church into smaller age groups. We can’t be sure they will speak up in big groups, and we can’t be sure they’re growing if they’re not asking their questions. Now is also the time to try small groups for adults. (See Resources below.)
3. Can you see results from the teaching tools you’re using?
Now is the time to explore technology. Not all technology is helpful, and having technology for the sake of technology is not the point. But you need to be able to measure the effectiveness of your curriculum and your teaching efforts. Controversy alert: I think we should assess the spiritual health of all ages of the church. If we gave a baseline assessment on members’ spiritual health and then ran it again every quarter, we could see if our teaching is encouraging people to grow spiritually.
Lee Ann Alexander is the associate editor of the UPCI. She leads the curriculum team at Pentecostal Publishing House. As a preacher of the gospel, she is passionate about training teachers.
Pentecostal Publishing House: Your Resource for Christian Literature
This month I’m encouraging you to sign up for a free webinar that surveys a new tool called God’s Word for Life. It gives solutions that address all the controversial claims I’ve raised above. The webinar is available multiple times each week, and it’s a great way to think about what could be the right combination of resources for your teaching ministry.