In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul encouraged his apprentice Timothy in “rightly handling the word of truth” (ESV). Teaching the Bible is an incredibly important endeavor. The Bible is the word of God, completely true, and has the potential, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to transform that lives of those we teach. That is why, regardless of how long you have been leading Bible study, as a Bible teacher you always need to keep growing in your ability to make the Bible clear for others.
How do you keep growing in your calling to teach the Word? Several areas of study are likely to help.
- Develop a deeper understanding of the Bible. Yes, you do need to understand the passage you are teaching, but I mean more than that. Develop a sense of the story of Scripture so that you see how the passage you are teaching fits into the broader message of the Bible. Understand the themes of Scripture and the various ways it develops those themes. While commentaries, Bible atlases, Bible handbooks, and theological dictionaries are incredibly helpful, none of these replaces time spent reading and studying the Bible.
- Grow in your understanding of learning. Bible teachers sometimes think that telling someone a truth from the Bible is the same as teaching them that truth. But teaching presumes learning. Until you have helped people to understand and utilize a truth, you have not taught them the truth. Develop your skills as a teacher, skills that help you to deeply engage people in the study of the Bible.
- Get to know your learners. Be a student of contemporary culture. Listen to how your learners think about life. What are they celebrating and what challenges are they facing? People learn better when they see connections of the truth to their lives.
Where do you get help to keep growing as a teacher? For the next ten months, Gateway’s Educational Leadership team is developing this blog: Teach the Truth. Each week, we will release a short article to help you develop in each of these areas and more. Teaching the Bible may be the most important thing you do most weeks. It has the potential to affect eternity for those you teach. Work at being as effective as you can, “rightly handling the word of truth.”