One of the great fallacies of our day is that if we study enough, gather as much information as we can and carry all that we can into the classroom or pulpit, we can teach an effective lesson. The main objection I have with this theory and common practice is that it goes against all human learning processes. I call this common practice the Content-Dump-Truck Method. Many of our classrooms and pulpits today are filled with content-driven leaders. Teachers spend several hours each week pouring over twenty-seven sets of commentaries and the Internet for theological commentary. Then on Sunday morning (or the given day for our class to meet) we enter the classroom with high anticipation of sharing all that we have learned this week in our studies. This is good and commendable for our own self-study. However, to approach a class this way is like backing a dump truck into the class and in twenty-five to thirty minutes dumping on our learners, everything that we have gleaned from several hours of research over a period of several days.
A greater tragedy in this method is that rarely do we give our learners any means of carrying this content into their own lives. In other words there is no application. I can give you all the Bible scripture and commentary that I can possibly find, yet if I do not assist you in how to apply the truths of scripture to your life, I have not taught you one thing, other than facts and figures. One writer has put it this way, “It does not matter how good the medicine is, unless someone swallows it and is healed.”
Many times the person not factored into the equation of the learning experience is the learner. Too often, when we do not see expected life-change in our learners or when no one is “stepping up to the plate” to serve, we tend to blame the learner. While some of the responsibility lies with the learner, rarely is the thought entertained that the teacher, educator bear some of the responsibility. This book is devoted to helping Christian educators “improve their serve” and create life-changing learning.
In many education settings we do not give our listeners time or opportunity to exercise the learning process. We can give definitive answers and absolutes. We can teach the Bible as history, information, facts, and figures. But if we want spiritual transformation to take place in the lives of our listeners, we must allow them to become learners. Many believers walk in and out of churches week after week with no real learning because we have not allowed or challenged them to become learners. When we do not allow our listeners to become learners, we are guilty of not allowing them to practice James 1:22; “Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only.” We question why there is no “fruit” in their lives and many times we need to look no farther than the mirror.
If we provide the proper equipping we can see changed lives. Evidences of learning can be found in our learners. We must provide the equipping. We must teach for life-change. A seed placed alone on a shelf, or in a barrel with thousands of other seeds will never produce fruit. However, if placed in fertile soil, and cared for in the proper manner, one single seed will produce, “…thirty, sixty, and a hundred fold.” (Mark 4:8b)
As you read this book, I trust you will take each facet, chapter, principle and truth and examine your own teaching process. Each time you sit down to read a portion of this book, first take a moment to pray, asking the Holy Spirit to guide you and be your teacher through your reading. If you will examine each precept and practice discussed in this book, allowing the Holy Spirit’s influence to improve and increase your teaching capacity, you will see improvements. Improvements in your teaching abilities, in class participation, and in the changed lives of those you lead. May God bless you in your efforts and endeavors to continually strengthen your abilities! Teach for life-change! Teach to bear fruit!
George Yates, Teaching That Bears Fruit