What do you think? Should school teachers be held accountable for students’ poor test scores? Are preachers responsible for an apathetic response to preaching? Are Sunday school teachers answerable for so many church kids growing up and walking away from the faith?
The question is this: has a teacher taught if the student has not learned? How thinking and behavior are changed is not only a question for educators; it should be carefully considered in the matter of discipleship and spiritual growth, as well. A danger at KSBC is that with all the wonderful classes, groups, meetings, teachers, and curriculum at our disposal, we may assume that people are learning and that thinking and behavior are being changed.
Please think with me about some thought patterns that need to change if we want to experience spiritual growth in our lives and families. Our minds must be stirred up about these things lest we settle for the false assurance that when teachers teach, people are changing. When thinking about spiritual transformation and the opportunities offered at church, consider these adjustments in perspective:
Participate rather than attend and go home. As a child I used to get prizes for perfect attendance at classes at church. That sends all kinds of wrong messages unless learning to sit in meetings is your objective. Whether it is asking questions, encouraging others, reading the lesson material, speaking up in the discussion time, memorizing the verse, prayerfully expecting to learn, or taking notes—participate. Assuming you are learning because you are there is not only foolish, but it actually promotes pride and self-righteousness.
Connect the truth learned to life rather than leave it at church. Two examples may help. First, Jesus teaches (Luke 6:32-42) that learning happens in the context of responding to people who have hurt you with forgiveness, mercy and love. That is both very real and hard to do. Consistently addressing the “speck” in your eye is essential; we sometimes refer to it as personal application. Second, connecting truth to life for a parent and family means staying closely attached to what is happening in the children and teen ministries. Parents are the primary disciplers of their children. Team up with the children’s and teen ministries to ensure that truth taught is connected to life for your children.
Cultivate relationships rather than remain in your comfort zone. There is no escaping the fact that spiritual growth is dependent on connecting not only with truth, but with other people as well. God has designed your spiritual journey to intersect with others in such a way that you will learn from them, by them, and with them. Our recent sermon series in the Psalms reminds us of the importance of intentional God-focused dialogue in each other’s lives as we journey together toward God. Approach the quiet person, greet the new person, be open to the inquirer, be patient with the annoying, encourage the sullen, celebrate with the happy, and pray with the weak. You will grow thereby.
I'm praying with you that as teachers teach and learners learn, our loving Savior and Lord will be seen.