A teacher learns quickly that students and group members quite often "teach" the teacher. Group members come with a wealth of experience, knowledge, and backgrounds that one leader cannot provide. Often a student will share an insight that the leader has never thought about. Even the youngest learners can teach by the questions they ask and the different perspectives they bring to the subject at hand.
Teaching is a mutual process where all share together in the experience of teaching and learning. The older the student or group member, the more they bring and the more they expect to be allowed to bring. The Congregation You have been asked to teach on behalf of your congregation. Hopefully the congregation is supporting you by providing the space, study materials, and supplies you need to be effective. Other ways congregations can support teachers include.
If you would like to be supported in any of these ways, ask! The United Methodist Connection United Methodist congregations are connected to one another in a special way. Local churches are joined together into districts; districts are joined into annual conferences; annual conferences are joined into jurisdictions; and jurisdictions are joined together with conferences outside the United States to make up the entire United Methodist denomination.
The general agencies help support all of these different parts. Just as local congregations share their resources of money and service with these larger bodies, so the districts, conferences, and general agencies share their knowledge, resources, and skills with local congregations. Ask your pastor or Sunday school superintendent about training events and resources that might be available in your area. A district or conference staff person may be available to help provide training for teachers and leaders in your church. Perhaps several congregations located near one another could sponsor a joint learning event.
General agencies provide written and internet-based resources that can be helpful. Think more deeply about your own "cloud of witnesses. Dig more deeply than, "She cared about me" to what it was that she did to demonstrate care or further than "the lessons were good" to what sort of preparation made them good. By delving more specifically into your reflections you can identify the success factors that you may be able to adopt and adapt. What have you learned that you can make your own? Consider also the members of your class or group. What does each of them bring to the session? How might their knowledge and experience augment your own?
What contributions have you missed so far that could add value to the rest of the group? Invite members of the congregation who are not currently in a class or group to meet together to share what inspiration, experience, gifts, strengths, or ideas they might contribute, on occasion, to the education ministry.
Observers and past participants may have a perspective and gifts that need to be considered. Friends of the education ministry may be willing to be partners in some fashion, even if they are not present in a group each time it meets. Call your conference office or go online to the conference web page to see what sort of helps are available. He or she seemed to have a deep knowledge of a subject, effortlessly knew what method to use, and was able to inspire others to learn. Many of us may never claim the title of gifted teacher, but all of us fill a teaching role at some point. Anytime we encourage, share information, guide, support, challenge, parent, or tell another about how God has acted in our lives, we are filling a teaching role.
One resource states it this way:. In a real sense, every person in the congregation participates in the teaching ministry. We teach through worship, through service, through engagement in the administrative tasks of the church. Everyone in the congregation is both teacher and learner. One of the characteristics of a good teacher is being a good learner and a good listener. Teachers model for their students the value of learning. We can never learn all there is to know about teaching, nor will we ever have all the answers. Trust, value, and seek the wisdom of your class or group members.
Listen to the questions and reflections of their hearts, knowledge, and experience. Who do you consider the best teacher you ever experienced? What did he or she do that was so memorable or effective? It may be helpful to think of the following three words to describe your role as a teacher:. Model A teacher is one who models the Christian faith, hopefully to the best of his or her ability. What we do is more powerful than what we say; how we live is stronger than how we claim we should live.
Your students of all ages will watch you and learn from you. It is vital, then, that you model and teach well. The most powerful Christian teacher is one who not only recites, "Do to others as you would have them do to you" Luke , but also actually practices it. An effective teacher is one whose faith is evidenced in his or her actions in the congregation and the community. This does not mean that you cannot accept a teaching role until you are a perfect Christian. If it did, our teaching ministry would have ended with Jesus! It does mean that you understand the importance of seeking to grow into the likeness of Christ.
A teacher should be growing in his or her own knowledge of the Bible, learning to pray, attending worship, and setting the example of a follower of Christ. Formation The role of a teacher of the faith is not just to pass on information or facts. It is to help people be formed as disciples learners and followers of Christ, and transformed into the people God has created them to be.
Romans says:. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God— what is good and acceptable and perfect. Transformation is the process of being converted or changed so that our fullest humanity can be realized. Sometimes transformation is a slow process, like water rushing over rocks for years and slowly changing their shapes. Other times it seems to happen much more quickly, like a river flooding over its banks and radically altering the shape of the land. In either instance, transformation is the work of God in our lives that changes us more and more from our current state of being into the people God wants us to be.
The good news for teachers is that we are not responsible for this transformation—God is! We trust God to do the rest. Information Part of the teaching responsibility is, indeed, to share information. There is more to learn about the Christian faith than any of us can ever know: information about the Bible and the stories in the Bible, the history of the church, theology or how people think and talk about God , facts about the beliefs and practices of The United Methodist Church, and much more. Much of the information you will share will come from printed study resources provided by your congregation.
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Other information will come from your own personal study and reflection. Your class or group members will also bring their collective and individual wisdom. No teacher will ever know all the answers. Yet we can help people learn some important information that will help them know what it means to be a Christian and will assist them in their walk with God. Building Relationships Perhaps one of the most important things a teacher can do is build relationships.
A teacher first works to strengthen his or her relationship with God. Daily prayer and reflection, study of Scripture, participation in worship, involvement in service activities—these are just a few of the practices that can draw each of us closer to God. Next, a teacher seeks to develop a strong relationship with the students or group members in the class.
Few Christians remember much of what a Sunday school teacher actually taught them. What they remember most is the warm and caring relationship with the teacher—or the lack thereof! A good teacher also pays attention to the relationships between members of the group, helping them build an open, supportive Christian community. Consider how your class time is spent in information-giving. Think next about how your class or group is structured to allow for formation and transformation.
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Gather the other teachers and group leaders together to explore the reference materials that each of you has. What is in your church library or pastor's study that might be available to you? Do you search out information in sources other than the printed curriculum or study Bible notes? Commit to more background study as part of your preparation for a month or so to see what difference it makes in your teaching.
Work with the other teachers, especially those who work with the same approximate age-level, to discuss how they structure the class for transformation. What can you learn from and teach to the others? If you are unsure about how to structure your time to allow for transformation, consider joining with several other people for your own devotional time together not primarily study time.
Use candles or icons for focus; take time to pray silently and together; search the Scriptures for the service challenges they offer you and embrace something. Go back to the group to reflect on your own experiences and to explore how to set a similar stage in your learning setting. The primary task as described here is not four things, but one task with several dimensions.
That one task can also be described as disciple making. The commission to be God's partner in making disciples is the responsibility of every congregation.
All the ministries, including the ministry of education and Christian formation, should align around what it means for your congregation to make disciples in its own time and context. Each ministry area, class, and group has a stake in disciple making. It may be someone else's "job," but it surely is your job. Some groups will do one dimension more completely than others, and so the complementarity of all the groups and classes is important.
Together, they engage in the primary task-- all dimensions of it. As a teacher or leader of a small group, you can pay attention to this primary task by. Each week you help your students reflect on how they live out their faith in the community. Then you send them out to begin the process again. This may sound complicated, but it can be as simple as calling a child by name as he or she enters the room and giving the child a hug, telling your students stories about God and Jesus Christ, talking with your students about how a Christian tries to follow Jesus, then praying as you send your students out that each child, youth, and adult can find a way to help others in the name of Jesus.
Think about this primary task by rewriting it in your own words or by drawing an image or diagram of it. What examples do you see of each dimension in the church, over all?
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List the things that you do in your class that relate to each part of the primary task. If you are not addressing each dimension, what's missing? What can you do to engage that dimension? For Further Study and Reflection Gather with a group of other teachers or education leaders and study the portions of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church or the "marching orders" of your faith tradition to gain further insight into the church's mission and goals.
How can you incorporate these understandings in your class or group and in the way you approach teaching? There are entire books dedicated to explaining different ways to teach and learn. Most study resources designed for church classrooms suggest a number of different methods. Just remember that the most important person in deciding which method to use is not the teacher but the learner.
Ways People Learn Listed below are a number of ways that individuals learn. The Needs of the Learner An effective teacher has a deep knowledge about the students he or she teaches. Only after reflecting on the answers to the following questions should a teacher decide which methods to use. The Lower Story, our story, is actually many stories of men and women interacting with God in the daily course of life.
The Upper Story is God's story, the tale of his great, overarching purpose that fits all the individual stories together like panels in one unified mural. In 31 video sessions, The Story video curriculum will open your eyes to God's master-plan unfolding in the lives of the Bible's characters-and in your own life. Discover the heart of God's Upper Story, and the joy that comes as you align your story with God?
The Story DVD and Participant's Guide sold separately are designed for use by groups of all sizes, including small groups and Sunday school and adult education classes, for each of the 31 weeks of The Story church-wide journey. Es graduado del Dallas Theological Seminary. Frazee y su espC. Kevin G. Harney es pastor de ensenanza en Faith Church en Dyer, Indiana.
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About Meet the Author Series. Sherry Harney Kevin G. Adam Barr.