The Gospel Coalition

I know this sounds like a crazy notion. I'm not 100% convinced myself. But I've begun to wonder if there might not be enough public teaching in today's church.

That probably sounds nuts to many churchgoers, not to mention most pastors. Plenty of ministers already feel swamped with some combination of morning service, evening service, Sunday school, catechism, and midweek teaching, not to mention extra preps for weddings, funerals, and special events. I also realize I'm swimming up stream against the current of contemporary church thought which says the one thing we certainly have enough of is teaching. We are already stuffed full with Bible studies, services, small groups, conferences, and classes. The last thing we need is another opportunity to get our brains crammed with more information.

But see if you can track with these observations.

(1) Paul told Timothy: "devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching" (1 Tim. 4:13). Later, the Apostle told his young protege to "practice these things" and "immerse yourself in them" (v. 15). It seems to me the normal pattern of pastoral ministry should not one of drowning in administration or getting in over your head in meetings or under water in visitation. Normally, the pastor should say of his week, "I was immersed in the public ministry of reading, teaching, and exhorting from the Scriptures." It's fair to assume study time counts in this "immersion" but there's no question Paul is talking about the public activities of reading and preaching the Bible.

(2) Calvin, like many of the Reformers with him and many preachers after him, was teaching all the time. From 1549 onward Calvin preached twice on Sundays and every weekday on alternating weeks. This meant about 10 sermons every two weeks. Now, it's also worth pointing out Calvin worked himself to death in his early fifties. He's not a model in everything. But this was also an era when most people died young, and Calvin barely ate and barely slept. So preaching isn't mainly to blame. Calvin killed Calvin more than teaching killed Calvin.

(3) Consider this description of the early church from Hughes Oliphant Old as he examines the Didache:
While nothing is said about how preaching fit into the liturgy, the Didache does indicate that the Church provided a daily preaching ministry. This we gather first from the instructions given to catechumens. Catechumens are admonished to pray for those who teach them the Word of God and honor them as they would honor the Lord, and furthermore to seek daily the presence of the saints so as to find rest in their words. It is not simply daily catechetical instruction presided over by a catechist that the Didache has in mind, but rather a daily assembly of the saints, at which the Word was preached for the glory of God and the spiritual strengthening of the congregation. What seems to be intended here is that the catechumens should attend the daily preaching services, where they will hear the Christian interpretation of the Scriptures and learn how Jesus fulfilled the Law and the prophets in his death and resurrection. While the Eucharist was held on the Lord's Day, preaching services were held daily.

There is a second reason for believing the Didache reflects the life of a Church which conducted daily preaching for the whole congregation, not merely for catechumens. This daily preaching was directed toward the mature members of the congregation; it was not simply elementary instruction designed for catechumens. This is made clear not only from what is said to the catechumens but even more from the fact that the Didache assumes a rather large body of prophets, teachers, bishops, and deacons who devote full time to their preaching and teaching.  The Didache seems to have in mind a group of professional preachers who devote their lives to their ministry rather than lay preachers, if we may use the modern terms.

The Didache assumes that the main function of the various ministries it mentions is teaching. This is clear at several points. Chapters 11-13 are devoted to traveling apostles and prophets. They are specifically called teachers, and teaching apparently was their main function although they might also perform signs or even lead in prayer at the Eucharist. Prophets may settle in a church, and if they do are to be paid on the principle that a true teacher is worthy of his support. A bit later on churches are told to appoint bishops and deacons, for they also perform the ministry of prophets and teachers. The picture one gets is of a church with a  number of teachers, which would hardly be a necessity were there but a single sermon each week. In fact, if there were but a single sermon each week one could well imagine that all these prophets, teachers, and bishops might get into considerable competition for the pulpit. On the other hand, if there was daily preaching one might be glad to welcome a traveling evangelist from time to time. (The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church, pp. 256-257, emphasis added)

I understand that our century is much different from the early centuries of the church's history. Back then few people could read. People were used to listening to speeches. There were no Bibles in every home, no sermons on their iPods, Amazon to deliver boxes of books whenever you want. I don't expect us to go recreate the world that called for these instructions in the Didache. But surely there are some lessons for us from Paul, from the early church, and from the Reformers. What would it look like for people and preachers to have this kind of hunger for the public exposition of the word?






Food for thought: how can we be more devoted to the public reading and teaching of Scripture in our churches?


Comments:

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Dan Phillips

January 22, 2012 at 11:01 AM

So you think John's teaching you to teach us that we don't need teachers?

Hunh.

Rose

January 22, 2012 at 09:51 AM

1 John 2:27 I don't think we need more teacher or more teaching. We need to listen to the Spirit. More teaching will serve to create more men who love to be called "teacher," and more dependent Christians who are not ready for meat, but need to have a foundation of repentance laid again and again. I think we are sick because of too much teaching.

[...] Is There Enough Teaching in the Church? [...]

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January 22, 2012 at 02:51 AM

[...] Kevin DeYoung asks, “Is there enough teaching in the church?” [...]

[...] Is There Enough Teaching in the Church? I know this sounds like a crazy notion. Iím not 100% convinced myself. But Iíve begun to wonder if there might not be enough public teaching in todayís church. That probably sounds nuts to many churchgoers, not to mention most pastors. Plenty of ministers already feel swamped with some combination of morning service, evening service, Sunday school, catechism, and midweek teachingÖ By Kevin DeYoungÖ Read the rest Here [...]

This Week on Transformed (1/21)

January 21, 2012 at 06:09 AM

[...] Is There Enough Teaching in the Church?:†I know this sounds like a crazy notion. Iím not 100% convinced myself. But Iíve begun to wonder if there might not be enough public teaching in todayís church. [...]

Brad Gouwens

January 20, 2012 at 12:46 AM

This is an interesting notion. I think we can stand to be more devoted to the teaching of the Word, but as you noted our culture requires something different. I think we need to teach and encourage people to be pursuing Christ on multiple layers of study.
Personal devotion
One on one discipleship/mentorship
Small group community
Local congregation
This is a fuller, more fruitful way that honors our cultural intricacies as well as a treasuring and love for God's Word. I also think it leaves more time and space for "digestion.". As a culture, we are spiritually "constipated."

Matt

January 20, 2012 at 11:21 AM

format is key.

james

January 20, 2012 at 11:17 AM

Great questions at the end. Something to think about, for sure. Thanks, Kevin.

[...] BUT IS IT GOOD TEACHING? Is There Enough Teaching in the Church? [...]

Dan Phillips

January 20, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Terrific thoughts.

I was recently in a Q&A where I was asked how long it took me to prepare a sermon. I answered, "Thirty-five years." There was chuckling, and I meant it humorously... but also seriously, as I went on to explain.

You've really set me to thinking, and it's very helpful. I think of the poles: Sunday morning service (we all do), and one on one discipleship (which Baxter hammers on well and soundly). But are there only those two poles? Some of us reason, "If I had a service on ______, only X people would come." And? Perhaps doing (say) a six-week series of less formal, more extemporaneous sessions in (say) Colossians in a more intimate setting of (say) 4 or 8 or 12 people would allow filling in some of those discipling gaps effectively, while not eliminating either one on one or Sunday morning.

Again, thanks.

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Flotsam and jetsam (1/20) | Everyday Theology

January 20, 2012 at 09:22 AM

[...] Is There Enough Teaching in the Church?:†I know this sounds like a crazy notion. Iím not 100% convinced myself. But Iíve begun to wonder if there might not be enough public teaching in todayís church. [...]

Jason Illingworth

January 20, 2012 at 06:30 AM

Acts 20:7 to 12

Paul preached for so long a person fell asleep and fell to his death.

I do not think more preaching would be a good thing. I think it would benefit the preacher more than it would anyone else. if people wanted more preaching would church not be better attended? Would the mid week services be attended by all instead of the few?

Stephen

January 20, 2012 at 06:06 PM

Sarah, seems like if there is someone leading a small group of 30 and wants to split, then it's about time to be seeking out mentor relationships and train up new leaders, not just expect them to show up. I think it's the same with pastors. Elders/pastors/teachers should always be seeking out new people to help train to make new teachers (perhaps this could be done as its own "class" or from within the existing classes). Waiting till it is already overwhelming for the current leader is too late.

Sarah Weber

January 20, 2012 at 03:36 PM

So what happens in a church when there is plenty of teaching from the pastors and elders...but then you can't find anyone to teach a small group. The teaching to re-teach seems to not work very well.

I witnessed this in my small group last night. In a group of about 30 we needed some volunteers to step up into the teaching position. There was utter silence.

How can we break through this? Is there a blog DeYoung has already done about this issue?

Erik L

January 20, 2012 at 01:39 PM

One question about something that I haven't seen in the post or the comments. Besides just more teaching, what about more public reading of Scripture? I'm not sure if any set "quantity" is the thrust of what Paul intended to communicate here; it just strikes me that while we need solid teaching and while we should all be reading the Scriptures on our own, in most evangelical churches I would suspect the majority of people haven't read their Bibles cover to cover even once. Thus they have very little knowledge of large parts of Scripture and little idea of any "big picture" sense of how it all fits together. And I don't only mean reading all of Scripture as pointing to Christ (which is fantastic), but even just helping people to get a sense of the story and major events of the Old and New Testaments. I think there are far too many church members who might get Creation, Fall, Redemption, Consummation, but who don't even have a sense that Israel split into two kingdoms, that the northern and southern kingdoms went into exile at different times, etc etc.

I love detailed expositional preaching (one thinks of Lloyd-Jones on 1 John), but why not preach from larger chunks of text once in a while, and actually read an entire chapter (or two or three or four) from the pulpit on a Sunday morning? I suspect that churches that use a lectionary will have less of this problem that others, but in many churches literally 2 verses might be read and preached on for 45 minutes to an hour, while much of the congregation has little idea of much of the rest of the Scriptures.

I'm not sure how all of this would practically play out, it just seems to me that more public reading of the Scriptures would not be a bad thing for most of us.

Jacob Park

January 20, 2012 at 01:20 PM

Great post. Ideally it would be great to have more public teaching in the church.

However, not everyone is a gifted teacher :(

We need to foster a culture in our churches that is Biblically saturated and grounded. I think it becomes a bit "easier" for the preacher to preach when your church is like that.

Ruth

January 19, 2012 at 12:52 PM

I think it is important to actually "teach". I see way too many topical studies with a verse or two thrown in. I sat in a sermon a few Sundays ago where the preacher was "exhorting" us to spend more time with our families. I think he found a verse or two to punctuate his point, but it was not teaching it was stating the obvious because it will enhance our lives. I think the church today is missing out on actual intellectually stimulating teaching. I would love to learn about the historical context and translation of Bible stories and verses. I think Preachers tend to underestimate the level of intelligence of the average church goer, but overestimate the level of the average church goer's Biblical knowledge. Many don't know who "Paul" is when a Preacher quickly references his words to prove a point in his self-help sermon, but a study of Paul's life and journey's would be interesting

Mark

January 19, 2012 at 12:45 PM

My concern is the entrapment to sustain historical church teaching models, for example a church had 9 different classes 50 years ago(divide them however you wish) must still have 9 different classes today as it is always how its been done. However, there realistically is only 1-2 people beyond the pastor qualified to teach--and to save the model, plug the hole with a warm body and poor teaching.
Make better use of those who are gifted to teach and shed the structure models that can't be sustained.

Ben

January 19, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Really interesting thoughts Kevin, I appreciate your efforts in writing this.

My fear, and indeed experience in my own fellowship, is that multiple sermons leads to a consumerist approach to the preaching of God's word - the idea that its ok if I wasn't spoken to this morning, theres always tonights sermon, or wednesdays sermon...etc

How does this fit with the word being "all...useful" and "living and active...sharper than a double edged sword?

The logical (and possibly worldy) part of my brain suggests that limiting the preaching, and spending more time working with people to apply it and respond to it. Any thoughts?

From a young pastor in the UK

Noreen

January 19, 2012 at 12:23 PM

@ Sandy. Couldn't agree more.

Todd

January 19, 2012 at 12:17 PM

Citing Rick Warren's contribution to the book THINKING. LOVING. DOING.(pg.41), I would agree that there can be an oversaturation of teaching beyond people's ability and/or opportunity to understand and apply what has been previously taught. We don't want to underwhelm people, but we don't want to overwhelm them, either. Good points, though. And the lunch time study...great idea!

Phil

January 19, 2012 at 11:56 AM

It's already happening. It's called a podcast.

Jeff

January 19, 2012 at 11:04 AM

AMEN!!!

Thank-you for this post. It has been my biggest problem with the small group push - as much as I believe in small groups. I think they need to have strong Bible teaching in them. But mostly, we make these groups a bunch of people sitting around and giving their opinion on a verse they just looked up. Plus we spend 45 minutes "sharing" requests, which is most often a gossip session. We need to teach the Word.

If we REALLY believe the Scriptures are real, true and applicable to our life - if we REALLY think the Bible is God's Word to us, then let's get into this Book and teach it anytime we can.

Great post Kevin.

Louis Tullo

January 19, 2012 at 10:56 AM

What an awesome post! You're points at the end are truly truly great food for thought.

don bryant

January 19, 2012 at 10:45 AM

I think most pastors undersell their ability to teach. They have had Greek, Hebrew, systematics, exegesis, etc., and can't find the energy to preach more than once a week? What's up with that? It's virtually impossible to find a church that has a teaching moment from the pastor outside of Sunday morning. Calvary Chapels seem, as a movement, to be the group committed to midweek Bible teaching. Sometimes I just want to have a person stand in front of me with an open Bible and help me pay attention to the text. I am not asking for Spurgeon here, folks. Just some comments on a text that keeps me from just living on the inside of my head, a decidedly bad neighborhood. Actually the only thing near it is the Roman Catholic Church which has daily mass and at some of these, depending on the parish, there is a short homily each day. It's usually awful but it's more than evangelical Protestant churches are doing.

Fenn Allen

January 19, 2012 at 10:39 AM

@ Michael - John 15- Abide to Bear, not work to produce. Galatians 6:22-23 the fruit OF the Spirit
More surrender and less striving, more receiving and less achieving, more of Christ and less of us.

Some great points Pastor Kevin. I would love to see more preaching/teaching in the public forum for people who are not in the church. To share and unfold the riches of all that Christ is and wants to be. Perhaps if churches opened their doors for more public forums and sharing at non-traditional times???

Regarding more preaching/teaching in the church- just some thoughts from a lay person.

26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; 28 but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. 30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; I Corinthians 14:26-30

WOW! What a wonder picture of shared participation and life. Sounds more like a family and less like a classroom.

Our country has more teaching/preaching and more Christian resources than at any other time in the history of man.
And what has that produced?

I think we may need less preaching/teaching- download and more intimacy and sharing in the fullness of Christ. Less one person's perspective- one piece of the pie and more of the fullness of Christ revealed through the Body of Christ all functioning.

The Body of Christ has become so academic and teaching focused that we have relegated many of the other gifts to the back of the church. We have become dependent on man's abilities and less dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of men- to teach us and empower us. We need less of manís control and more of the life of God.

No doubt we need teachers and preachers, but we desperately need a Body of Christ, A Family of God to share in Christ together. We need to stop going to church in place of being the church. We need all of the Body to function to be a unified and healthy body. We need more love one another, serve one another, honor one another, care for one another, share with one another, bear one anotherís burdens. (Romans 12:1-21)

We need an impartation of the love and life of Christ not an imitation. We need more of Christ!

Thanks for providing a public forum through your blog!

Carl

January 19, 2012 at 10:32 AM

@Bob,

This isn't a "doing" religion.

- a Christian

Michael

January 19, 2012 at 09:41 AM

@ Bob,

"If more teaching would result in more doing, great."

I've heard this in many emergent churches.

There may be some who hear and do not do anything, but teaching comes before doing 100% of the time. For reference, see Jesus and Paul's teaching ministry.

Also, look at James 1:22. He is "teaching" us to be doers of the word in his letter.

Sandy

January 19, 2012 at 09:40 AM

There is such a lack of teaching here- there is no Sunday night, no Wednesday nights, just a quick 45 minute Sunday morning. That is it folks, anything else you better find for yourself (which we do here on sermons from GC). Small groups during the week are friendship groups. This is this typical format is S.Calif. these days. It is pretty discouraging.

Bob in IN

January 19, 2012 at 09:23 PM

My family just left a church (after trying to make changes for 5 years) mainly because there was virtually no teaching. Our regular diet from leadership was cheerleading and try harder messages. I offered to conduct a "How to Study the Bible" class and it was never promoted, and when I showed up to teach, never attended. I guess people had such busy schedules.

Bob

January 19, 2012 at 08:42 AM

I think there's plenty of teaching. Not nearly enough doing. ("But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." James 1:22) If more teaching would result in more doing, great. But I don't think that's the case at the kind of churches you're talking about.

Mark

January 19, 2012 at 08:26 AM

Kevin,
Thanks for another good post.

- Jeffrey, good point. What if underemployed pastors were to fan out into surrounding areas to plant new churches reaching those who know little to nothing about the great Name we proclaim or the wealth of resources at our finger tips?

Tiffany

January 19, 2012 at 08:23 AM

The only way to be devoted is to make more time for teaching. We also don't have to follow the Wednesday/Sunday morning & night schedule. People have varying work schedules that depart from the old 8-5 M-F. Training people to be teachers would also have to be of importance, as well as continued training of current teachers.

Jeffrey Brannen

January 19, 2012 at 07:11 AM

Speaking to a wealth of preachers, many churches have pastors on staff who never (or at least rarely) have the opportunity to preach. Beyond this, what of the requirement of elders to be "apt to teach" if teaching is limited to roughly 3x's per week? I think you've raised good questions. Perhaps it is because we are extremely busy with all of our commitments and entertainments that this seems like a stretch.

Bits & Pieces (1/19/12) | Better Things Ahead

January 19, 2012 at 06:03 PM

[...] Is There Enough Teaching in the Church? – Kevin DeYoung posits an interesting question, and gives some intriquing suggestions. [...]

Tom Larsen

January 19, 2012 at 05:17 PM

The answer isn't necessary more Bible study or more teaching or more prayer: it's better Bible studies, teaching, and prayer, stemming out (and this is really important) of an earnest, eager, passionate delight in God.

Ann Metcalf

January 19, 2012 at 04:40 PM

Fantastic post. Thanks Kevin.

As a layperson I wonder if the congregation would even be open to more bible study? Sad. huh?

I am in full agreement with you there does need to be more teaching. Laypeople are not used to lengthy sermons or scripture packed sermons. A majority of evangelicals want a 25 minute encouraging message.

This must be changed. We need to get used to more public reading of scripture and look to Calvin as a good example!

Luis

January 19, 2012 at 03:40 PM

As in most every other Biblical topic, there is always the opposite to be brought up. One writes about Grace, and another one critics with works; one writes about doing and another one opposes with the faith card. waiting in the Lord vs. acting, knowledge vs spirit and so on. With that being said friends, let's take the post at its point and not argue for the opposite as both opposites are dangerous and we all understand that.

With that I would suggest that those who argue that today's Christianity is sadly and greatly Biblically illiterate, is true. I wonder how many Sunday School tennagers 100 years ago knew more doctrine that many adults today. We must know what we believe in order to be able to present defense (1 Peter 3:15).

More teaching; would it work? Why not? I am one who thinks and wishes we were like Paulís times in which he taught the Bible for hours and crowds listened even deep into the night (Acts 20:7-12). May be we do need more teaching along with more knee-time to have more power from the Holy Spirit. May be we need people really gifted to teach and not merely with seminary degrees. (nothing wrong with seminary).

I am passionate about seeing more and more Small Group leaders seriously studying The Word so that they are equipped to teach the Word to small groups and teach them how to study (and not just have fellowship) (see: http://thoughtswithaccent.wordpress.com/2011/12/29/new-years-resolutions-dont-read-the-bible2/) -this may be our contemporary solution to the issue raised.
It is true that more knowledge without personal application (doers and not just hearers) may make us too academic and puffed up (1 Cor 8:1). However, the danger of this extreme cannot keep us from striving for its benefits. After all, deeds without God's knowledge may make us merely a good social club that ultimately does not endure for eternal purposes.

Mike

January 19, 2012 at 03:31 PM

Kevin,

To your last point ("What would happen if a church held 30 minutes lunch time lessons?", etc.), this has been happening in downtown Portland, OR for years via Downtown Bible Class (http://downtownbible.org).

In summary, we meet at the Portland Art Museum every Wednesday during lunch for 30 minutes of expositional teaching. Right now, we're going through John. Those who come include business professionals, university students, and retirees.

I'm sure there are other teaching forums like this around the country. However, after reading your questions, I wanted to share this specific example with you and the readers of your blog. I'm a business professional and have been attending DBC for years now. It's always one of the highlights of my week. My purpose in sharing this is to encourage you! You're asking critical questions. Know that there is a deep hunger for Christ-centered Bible teaching! In other words, don't be worried preacher: people will show up.

Psalm 62:5-8

Ben K.

January 19, 2012 at 03:17 PM

Kevin, your blog usually has content that is quite convicting and very helpful, but this post spoke directly to where I'm at right now in ministry. I'm a youth pastor and I'm always thinking about how I can get my students in the Word more often and to a greater depth. You talk about busy schedules--now THEY have busy schedules! Nevertheless, I am encouraged by this post as I continue to evaluate our ministry critically and move forward with a Word/Gospel focus rather than an obsession with programs and events. Thank you for your words today and keep up the good work!

Keith

January 19, 2012 at 02:47 PM

My observation from attending church over about 35 years is that we are in dire need of better content in teaching.

Amy

January 19, 2012 at 02:11 PM

@Fenn Allen - i agree, we are called to be a royal priesthood which means the whole body of christ are to be actively involved. Saying we need more teaching is good but we tend to want more and more from our pastors and church "staff" and become more spectators than participants thus increasing the sacred spiritual divide. We should all be encouraged perhaps to meet and share in meals at each others homes more and have times of sharing what God is teaching us, less of an audience is a great training ground for new preachers and teachers. This would promote more living out the faith and coming alongside each other. We tend to think that you need a degree to hear God's voice but it can hinder it.

Adam

January 19, 2012 at 02:08 PM

Great article, Kevin. Being catechised and taught in the Word constantly and being saturated with the fundamentals and doctrines of the faith are what shield us against the arrows of the enemy. There is nothing wrong in trying to be academic and intellectual in regards to the faith, although it can be an idol at times. But it's nice to remember " We happy Calvinists donít claim to get the heavens into our heads. We try to get our heads into the heavens"; its discovering the unsearchable riches of Christ. I do believe that if we immerse ourselves more to the learning and teaching of God's Word, the practical application and doing (as James teaches) will outflow from our hearts in that manner. I pray for more revival among our churches today that they crave the spiritual milk and desire to learn day by day, not only on Sunday morning and evening, but throughout the week.

Luke

January 19, 2012 at 01:58 PM

Kevin, I have to say while I agree that there is never enough teaching ("they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching...") I think your proposal here falls a bit short for a couple reasons:

1) Why would people be hungry for the word if they are in a context where they are never fed? I'm responding here to the John Piper or Peter Piper analogy. If the word is really being "brought" I'm not looking forward to it really. I mean if I was invited over to the house of somebody I knew was a terrible cook, I would probably still go, but I would dump the food under the table.

2) I think you are focusing too much on the "public" part of teaching. Paul in Acts 20 says he never shrunk back from preaching the word in "public" or "from house to house." There is too much focus here on a context that should only be a small part of the public teaching. Would people come to church to hear the word on their lunch break? Maybe. But what if I went to my peoples place of work and was in the word with them there? I think teaching has been removed from the context of discipleship and therefore has a massively diminished impact. So, I don't think we need more teaching like that.

3) Hunger comes from life, and especially from new life. Catechism in the early church was for the discipleship of especially new believers. There needs to be lots of teaching where there is gospel movement, but our institutions are mostly for the already initiated many of which "by this time should be teachers." But who will they teach when there are so few that are new. Teaching ought to be constant, but is most naturally so in the midst of movement.

John

January 19, 2012 at 01:40 PM

In my opinion and experience, the reason more teaching (such as advocated in Kevin's blog) seems to be overwhelming, too much or what have you is result of our present Western culture more than anything else. I dare say that missionaries, after spending significant time in the field, would in most cases find this to be the opposite of their experience. It's odd to think that so many demands educationally seem to be right and whats expected of someone pursuing a degree in any particular field (when having your taxes done you do want that person to know how to add and subtract, right?) but to sit for an hour or so under someone teaching God's word seems to be over doing it. Odd, isn't it?

Grayson Pope

January 19, 2012 at 01:40 PM

I agree Kevin. There's lots of information and messages out there. But what's missing is the practical application of the Word to people's lives. Don't get me wrong, most sermons or messages have some connection with people's lives or else no one would listen. But often we encourage people to grow in their faith without staying alongside them for the journey.

I have a vision of a fully online and in-person "institute" style learning center that is wholly provided by the church. This is where disciples would be made.

The beginnings of discipleship are sometimes too often the focus. We can't forget that we are to make people into fully devoted followers of Christ. As Jesus said, "teaching them to obey everything I have commanded."

Bob Wiegers

January 19, 2012 at 01:33 PM

a thoughtful counterpoint can be found here:

http://www.holidayatthesea.com/?p=5395

AJ Johns

January 19, 2012 at 01:05 PM

Kevin, Great post.

Have you begun any of these applications at your own congregation? I would love to hear how it's gone. And if not, it would be a cool follow up post as you apply some of those points you said.

Thanks,

AJ

Casey lewis

January 19, 2012 at 01:02 PM

Great post. I especially liked what you said about others in the congregation teaching. While I believe it is the pastors main responsibility, I also think it is wise for the pastor to allow and make time for others to preach and teach. By doing so, we are helping to train the next generation.