Years ago, I was the guest preacher at a small church in another state. Wanting to set a good example, I decided to attend the only adult small group bible study class they had on that Sunday morning. (It was called Sunday School then, but you might call yours a Life group or some other name.) What an eye-opening experience it was for me!
The class was just beginning as I popped in. No one greeted me in any meaningful way. (They didn’t yet know I was the guest preacher!) The teacher did ask my name, though she didn’t bother to find out anything else about me. Class started with the teacher complaining about how similar the lesson was to the lessons from previous weeks. She seemed bored by the subject and disinterested in her class members. With as little enthusiasm as a teenage boy forced to clean his room on a Saturday morning, she taught our class that day.
Class was boring, lifeless and ineffective. It was all I could do to stay awake myself! Class mercifully ended and the members began to slowly shuffle out the door without a word to me or anyone else until I began to introduce myself and try to engage them in conversation.
This experience burned into my psyche the need for our small group teachers to learn to truly connect with others. Teaching is about more than providing truthful information. It is also about connecting with others in a way that will inspire them to experience life transformation.
Here are some characteristics of teachers who connect. If you teach a small group through your church, consider whether these are attributes you exhibit.
- Teachers who connect are passionate. The bible is powerful and wonderful. Having the privilege of teaching it to others is a great and awesome opportunity. Teachers who connect bring passion to their task. They care deeply about God’s word and want to teach it with energy. They see the value of God’s word and the message of the gospel and do all they can to express that value by their passionate teaching.
- Teachers who connect are compassionate. People matter to God. Connecting teachers love the people in their class. They care about their needs and their burdens. The people in their class matter to them because these are people created by God with great potential and yet with great problems. They teach in a way that expresses their love and care.
- Teachers who connect are personal. Connecting teachers get to know the attenders in their class. They find out about their lives, their families, their gifts and their struggles. They work hard to apply the lessons of the bible to their students in meaningful ways. Connecting teachers help their classes become friends and partners in the journey of faith.
- Teachers who connect are invested. Teachers who connect know that being a teacher is more than a title or a role. Teaching is a calling. They are invested in the class. They come well prepared and find ways to teach more effectively. They work to improve their talents and they beg the God of heaven to empower their teaching as only he can.
- Teachers who connect are involved. Class is about more than Sunday morning or Thursday night for teachers who connect. They know they must connect socially and emotionally as well as spiritually. They plan events beyond class. They pray with class members over coffee, laugh with them at game nights and weep with them at funerals. They know that life is best when lived together.
If God has called you to teach, he has called you to a great thing. Teach the bible accurately and clearly and carefully. But remember that there is something more he has called you to do. He has called you to connect!