Teaching in the Church

Since 2003, I’ve volunteered as a teacher at my church. I’m currently teaching two series for adults – an introduction to the Bible (its nature, history, and content, the process of canonization and translation, basics of inductive Bible study) and a course on Christian “rituals and traditions” (the Lord’s Supper, baptism, Easter, Christmas, and Advent practices). My experience with teaching has always been positive, and my students (usually adults age 30 to 70) are genuinely curious about the Bible, Christianity, and the Gospel, but often don’t know where to start or how to find reliable sources of information. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a lot of shady information about religion on the Internet.

On the other hand, if your full-time job involves classroom teaching and research, you might like something different on the weekend – something like, I don’t know, seeing your family or doing something more active. I’ve noticed very few elementary school teachers volunteering in our children’s wing.

Do you teach at your church? If yes, what has been your experience? If not, can you share your reasons and how they’ve been received? Do you feel free to make that choice at your church, or do you feel pressured one way or the other (either to teach or not to teach)?

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Micheal Hickerson

The former Associate Director for the Emerging Scholars Network, Micheal lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children and works as a web manager for a national storage and organization company. He writes about work, vocation, and finding meaning in what you do at No Small Actors.

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  • W. Brian Lane commented on October 19, 2009 Reply

    I’ve taught two adult Christian Education (we call it that instead of \Sunday School\) classes at my church: one on 2 Timothy, and the other on the Parables of Matthew.

    I don’t find it to be \just business as usual,\ since I teach physics at my university; getting to teach the Bible exercises the other half of my brain.

    With that said, I have incorporated a couple math problems into the classes, such as with the parable of the sower (outlined at http://cornerinteractions.blogspot.com/2009/10/mathematical-model-for-questionable.html) and the ratio of the debts in the parable of the unforgiving slave. The class actually enjoyed the arithmetic and it helped give them insight into the text.

    I also find it interesting to icorporate different pedagogical strategies into my church classes. For one class meeting, I divided the class into two groups and assigned each group a different interpretation of the day’s passage to research and support (without their knowing there was a difference). After about 20 minutes of group-work, I gathered them back together and announced that they were given different handouts, and they proceeded to debate the pros and cons of each interpretation. (Unfortunately, I can only pull that trick once per term.)

  • dwsnoke@comcast.net'
    Dave Snoke commented on October 19, 2009 Reply

    I teach at my church, and a few years back also got licensed to preach regularly. For me, it is an avocation. Some people collect stamps or do sports; I study and teach theology and Bible. I do think that spending my life in academic making outlines and lecture notes helps.

    I sometimes use physics and math analogies in theology. E.g., regarding the issue of “soul sleep” (are we consciously with God during the time between our death and the final resurrection) can we even talk about an absolute time? What if the person just before they died was put on a rocket ship that went near the speed of light and experienced almost no time passing before Christ returned? Some people roll their eyes but generally, in any group there are people who like to think about puzzles and tricky questions.

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