Teaching is imbedded into the DNA of each of the fivefold offices (see 2 Tim. 2:24-26). Unfortunately, it faces a crisis in Spirit-filled churches.
Since coming into the charismatic movement from a mainline liberal denomination, I have heard seminaries decried as cemeteries from the pulpit and academic studies criticized as unnecessary and foolish.
Teachers impart important foundational truth for the church, provide needed correction to false doctrine and heresy and equip believers for doing the work of ministry.
THE TASK OF A TEACHER
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word yarah, "to teach," is also commonly used to refer to leading, guiding and shooting an arrow. Also, a single usage of the word for "sharpening an arrow or sword" (sanan) is used to refer to teaching in Deuteronomy. We are commanded to "teach our children," i.e. to sharpen them as swords or arrows (see Deut. 6:1-8).
More than just classroom instruction, the common word for "teaching" in the New Testament (didaskô) is "to cause to learn" through imparting instruction and instilling doctrine.
At times, those preaching and teaching use Scripture as a "point of departure" for expounding an obscure point or ranting about a pet peeve. The teaching gift and office elevate Scripture as "the point" and submits all other points to biblical authority through Spirit-led and carefully prepared exposition.
The night-before, last-minute "special message" akin to cramming for an exam rarely brings substance on a Sunday morning.
Instead of fishing for oblique points in search of "new" revelation, teachers in the 21st century need to ground the church in the infallible foundations of biblical truths that will stand the tests of heresy, false doctrines, flaky experiences and flashy performances.
Peter warns us against false teachers (see 2 Pet. 2). Instead of trying just to identify what's false, it is far more profitable to determine what is true. I invite you to join me in asking these essential questions:
THE TEST OF A TEACHER
1. Is my teaching grounded in the whole of Scripture, and does it avoid proof-texting? Can the message stand the test of time, and will it be remembered and repeated as truth by the hearers in the coming months and years? (see Ps. 119:160)
2. Is my teaching profitable for sound doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness? Will those in error repent? Will those listening be moved by God's Spirit to change? Is what I teach "God-breathed" (see 2 Tim. 3:16).
3. Can my teaching be used and practically applied to daily life? Will family relationships improve, grow and become healthy? Will those in the workplace exhibit integrity and share the gospel? Will God's people become good neighbors and history-makers as the result of being taught? (see Ps. 119:9-16)
4. Will my teaching be lasting--remembered beyond just the moment it's learned? What communication tools are used to cement the teaching in the minds of all kinds of learners--visual, language-oriented or logical? Does the teaching have at least one "power point" that's life-changing, and can last a lifetime and into future generations? (see Ps. 33:11)
5. Am I a living example of what I teach? Are God's truths flowing out of my words and actions in such a way that I am salt and light in the world? Do I live with integrity and set an example for the believers? (see 1 Tim. 4:12)
Through teachers, new believers are grounded in the Word and maturing believers are equipped to disciple others in the Word. And the wise, elderly teachers in the body must continue sharing God's wisdom and equipping future generations>
Larry Keefauver, D.Min., is executive director of Your Ministry Counseling Services (www.ymcs.org). He has pastored for more than 30 years and written more than 40 books, including Inviting God's Presence (Warner Faith).