Sunday, April 25, 2010

Teach Progressively

One of my biggest problems in teaching (and I don't think I'm alone in this) is trying to cover too much material in a lesson. I'm excited! There's enormous depth in God's Word, and I want people to get this! There are moments of silence in the group and I'm eager to fill it with more information! I want everyone to be impressed with how much I know!

I've said it before, and I'll say it here: Teach less material, and teach it well.

Study how Jesus teaches. He gives people information in progressive stages, and does not try to pack in everything that could be known at any one subject in one session. For example, how much more could Jesus have said about the Holy Spirit in John 14:16-17? "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you." Jesus could have spent hours on the Holy Spirit, but He didn't. He gave His disciples what they needed to know for the moment.

Later Jesus tells His disciples: "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth." (John 16:12-13) Note that key phrase "more than you can now bear." It's one of the challenges that we teachers face, to discern how much a person or a group can bear at this time.

The Bible story is filled with progressive revelation. God doesn't tell Noah everything, or Abraham, or David. He gives them commands and expects obedience. God reveals only what is necessary for each stage of His people's experience of Him. And He builds on the foundations of what came before.

When you're making decisions about how much to cover in a lesson, err on the side of teaching less information, and teaching it well. Finish with time to spare, rather than diving into something they cannot absorb.

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