I’m a theological educator, so classroom instruction matters to me. I’m convinced that many churches—if not most of them—give far too little attention to teaching biblical and theological truths. We simply don’t disciple well. On the other hand, I also think it’s possible for a church to lean so far toward a classroom that they lose some of the essence of being a Great Commission church. Here are some of the characteristics that mark that kind of church:
- Your members can talk about theological “ism’s,” but they can’t name their neighbors. Their theological conversations are ongoing and important, but they don’t know any non-believers who live around them.
- Your preaching is only information-based teaching, with no clear life application. Your folks can re-state what you’ve taught them, but they haven’t learned how to apply biblical truths to their daily lives. Even if they’re impressed, they’re not much changed.
- Your church attracts other believers who fit your church’s mold, but you don’t see non-believers saved through your ministry. The believers come because of what you teach and stand for—and these issues are indeed often non-negotiable ones—but your church’s growth is largely transfer growth.
- You spend much time in your study and little time with your congregation. Again, I think many pastors spend too little time in study. At the same time, though, some pastors retreat to their office and make an appearance only when it’s “class time.” That approach can quickly miss what it means to be a shepherd.
- Your church’s small group leaders typically lecture, want larger groups, and don’t multiply their groups. That’s because teachers (and I’m one) usually like more students in the classroom. We’re energized by the crowds who want to hear us teach—and it’s not always easy to send out our best students.
Please hear my heart: I am not arguing against strong teaching from pastor committed to expositing the Word. In fact, I’ve never seen a genuinely Great Commission church without this kind of leadership. My concern is simply that we can get out of balance at times—and we must intentionally strive for teaching that leads to life change and evangelistic obedience.
I’m happy to hear your thoughts.