Jordon Willard, DMin
The Burden and Blessing of Teaching in Your Church
Virtually every Sunday School teacher or small group leader has been there. As you finish preparation on Saturday night or when you look out over your group before teaching, you sense the weighty responsibility of teaching. You want to make the gospel clear to them, but you are anxious about what to say. You genuinely want to influence them for good, but you worry you may not be interpreting the Word correctly. You know that Scripture warns that anyone who teaches the Bible must be adequately equipped to rightly handle the Word (2 Tim. 2:15). If you are a Sunday School teacher or small group leader, here are four reasons why you should take more seriously the need to be better equipped to correctly interpret and apply the Word.
1. The Lord requires it.
James 3:1 teaches that not many should become teachers because God will judge them with greater strictness. Bible teachers will be held to a higher standard, because their teaching impacts not just their own life but everyone in their class/group. When there is more than one person being taught, the greater accountability there will be. What a sobering reality! If we will give an account to God for those we teach, we must handle the Word faithfully. There is hardly a more sobering reason to be equipped to teach.
2. The church’s maturity depends on it.
Christ has given pastors and teachers to the church to help its members
spiritually mature (Eph. 4:11, 13-16). The members of your class/group are always either progressing or regressing in sanctification. Their journey to maturity in Christ is impacted by your teaching of the Scriptures. Because of this, your ability to rightly read, interpret, and apply Scripture for them is vital.
3. The church’s ministry is shaped by it.
Christ also gifts the church with pastors and teachers “to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Eph. 4:11-12). Every member of Christ’s body is spiritually gifted to minister for God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31) and the church’s edification (12:7; 14:12).
Every member of Christ’s body is spiritually gifted to minister for God’s glory and the church’s edification.
But the way members are equipped for service is through biblical instruction. Pastors/teachers are like the small intestine of the church. Just as the small intestine breaks down food and distributes nutrients to the body’s members for proper function, so also pastors/teachers break down (interpret) Scripture and distribute (apply) its contents to the members so the body functions in a healthy way. If members are taught well, they will serve so that God is glorified, and the church edified.
4. The church’s multiplication rests on it.
The mission of the church is to glorify God by making disciples of Jesus (Matt. 28:16-20; Eph. 4:11-16). Christ-followers will not know, much less fulfill, their responsibility to make disciples unless they are taught about it from Scripture. Teachers/leaders have the privilege of instructing their class/group about the call to make disciples. If teachers/leaders are not showing members this biblical mandate, the church’s growth will be stunted.
Much is riding on a teacher’s ability to teach the Word faithfully. The church’s maturity, ministry, and multiplication are all shaped by its teachers’ ability to handle the Word accurately. Because of this, the Lord requires that Bible teachers be well-equipped. The good news is that as we strive to teach God’s Word faithfully, we do so with the confidence that it is ultimately God who shines “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” in people’s hearts (2 Cor. 4:6). May we rest in this truth even as we seek out others to equip us to rightly handle the Word.