Forty-six years ago this month Ed Wharton wrote a beautiful article to encourage preachers serving local congregations. This timeless piece seems so relevant today. We hope you will be uplifted and motivated to continue Thinking Souls!
Preachers That Teach
by Ed Wharton
Fellowship In The Gospel Newsletter
Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver
Upon re-thinking the Biblical definition of the work of the local preacher it occurs to me that teaching plays a major role in the God-ordained task of the evangelist. Simply stated, God ordained the preacher to (1) teach the lost (Matt. 20:19) and (2) to continue to teach the church thereafter (Matt. 28:20). It’s the method of expediting this work which often makes the difference in the preacher’s fruit-bearing.
Preachers continually deplore the lack of spiritual growth manifested among the membership. But however your pulpit preaching and classroom teaching may grow out of conscientious preparation and enthusiastic delivery just remember this: It lacks that personal touch. And ONLY personal teaching can supply much that is needed for converting the lost and maturing the spiritual babe. Furthermore, what CAN and SHOULD be taught to one is not necessarily what MAY be taught to another. It depends on where they are spiritually. They may be down right carnal! Yet they may at the same time be likeable and very teachable.
Let’s re-read the Bible and get some of that teaching and preaching out of the formal pulpit-classroom situation. Get it back to an informal house-to-house situation where you can drink coffee, lean back and listen to the other fellow’s question, and have time to give a sufficient answer.
In the following I want to discuss four phases of teaching which the preacher can fill up his time with overnight! Each phase is on a different level progressing from the the rudiments to the stronger meat of the Word. All but one, the last one, are in the home, couched in the informal atmosphere so conducive to that personal touch.
1. Teach The Lost. In his home or yours, that is. The greatest task here is setting up the class; finding the person who is willing to let you teach him. But that’s your job! When you win that soul the church has experienced growth. Til this is a part of your life, you just are not a New Testament preacher.
2. Teach Members of the Church. In your house! This requires that you go beyond first principles…at least eventually. This type of class is a cinch to set up. It requires almost no effort to get more than you’d really want in a home Bible Study. Just ask a couple of families to come over to your house on a regular basis for a couple of months of real down-to-earth Bible study. If they’ve already found out you know something and can teach it they’ll jump at the opportunity. No sweat. This class will be very rewarding for you both.
3. Teach the teachers of the local congregation. That is, in your home. This is “teacher training” in the Bible itself. That may well be a switch from the kind they have been used to. Seldom do local teachers excel the preacher in knowledge of the Bible. If they are sincere they will learn something. If not, you will! You may be educated when you learn from them what they “thought” the Bible taught on some very important subjects. A sobering thought is this: these local teachers are teaching (?) your wife and children. Are you confident in this? If not, do something about it; teach the teachers! This is an effective means of providing for greater spiritual growth of the local church. Remember, 2 Tim. 2:2 is addressed to the preacher! This level of teaching is yet more requiring than the others.
4. Teach intensive Bible courses. This is the only one of the four which I recommend being taught in the formal classroom situation. Purpose: To educate the church in the Bible. To increase their Christianity. What do you mean “intensive” ? Remember what it’s like back in the classroom at a school of preaching. Then, pour it on! They’ll love it! Provided, of course, that you do. Give them assignments, themes to write, memory work. (Careful: do not overload) If you are energetic and knowledgeable and have a good-natured approach the will literally eat it up. I promise.
I speak out of experience. The above formula will work. It will provide growth both numerically and spiritually. And a final motivation I might mention just here: when the church grows through the preacher’s efforts he doesn’t have to move every year or two. Right?