The Monologue Culture ~ PART 3
Word Study: TEACH
TEACH: DIDASKO (Strong’s 1321)
Meaning: Teach (from root: to learn)
Also translated as: Teach
Unlike the word DIALEGOMAI (ref. last section) which clearly implies ‘dialogue’, DIDASKO does not in and of itself imply either monologue or dialogue (so far as I can ascertain anyhow). It simply means ‘cause to learn’. My introduction has already addressed the question of ‘how we learn’ and anyone involved in the world of learning research already knows that merely lecturing in monologue fashion is one of the most ineffectual methods of teaching/learning. Although there are a few occasions where Jesus ‘took the floor’ in a seemingly uninterrupted flow of teaching, a browse down the many New Testament references to: Teach, Teaching, Taught will frequently show that there was certainly interaction and involvement in all sorts of ways.
If ‘preaching’ is a ‘declaration’ of things then ‘teaching’ is an ‘exploration’ and ‘explanation’ of things. When we read through the Gospel accounts we can observe the Master Teacher (Rabbi Jesus) at work. He is the only man ever to walk this earth with the absolute right to be quietly listened to without interruption and yet even He did not use monologue as His primary method of teaching. See how many times Jesus taught (DIDASKO) in response to a question – or indeed, a situation? Note how His followers asked Him questions, before, during and after His teaching sessions. Note how he purposefully drew in others by asking them questions?
Using Jesus as our example of a teacher does in fact have limitations. He was a teacher, who, following the commencement of His ministry, no longer needed to learn anything from any other man. He was the only (metaphorical) ‘shepherd’ in the Bible who himself was not one of the ‘sheep’. Think about that. After Pentecost the disciples were filled with new power, which infused them with energy, gifting and authority but they were still not “perfect” (mostly meaning “complete”). So, an apostolic ‘teacher’ and indeed any other Christian with a gift of ‘teaching’ are still continuing to learn. Being a teacher does not change the status of also being a life-long disciple (leaner). Being a ‘shepherd’ in any capacity within God’s flock never changes a man’s status of still being one of the sheep.
If Jesus’ method of teaching gave room for others to participate throughout then how much more should any Christian teacher make room for the other sheep to exercise their voices in various ways? Jesus’ method of teaching – by involving others – was undoubtedly for others’ benefit, but when Christians teach, following His example, it not only helps others but it is also always potentially a means of learning and a safeguard to the one who teaches.
Who May Teach in A Church Meeting?
I need to keep real brief here, I’ll leave you to do your own New Testament checking on what I am about to say, but there are three categories of people who are called to ‘teach’ in church meetings:
- Teachers: Yes, it may seem obvious but certainly needs stating. In various places in the New Testament, Christian ‘Teachers’ are mentioned as a specific, God-given gift to His Church (the whole Church) and they clearly circulated among the local churches in this ministry. They were not ‘creamed off’ and stationed in ‘Bible Institutes’ solely for the benefit of the few. They circulated among everyday Christians and disseminated their gift in everyday churches to the benefit of all.
- Local Church Elders: Note first of all that all but one of the ‘qualifications’ for an elder concern character not gifting, but there is one exception to this… an elder must be “apt to teach”. That is, have some measure of ability to instruct, correct and explain spiritual things. It does not imply that they must be a gifted orator or that they should deliver monologue sermons but all elders must be good basic communicators of spiritual Truth.
- All Other Men In The Church: I will not attempt to embark on the topic of male and female roles in the churches but suffice to say that the New Testament shows that all men (males) may potentially participate and contribute in this manner – each within their measure of course. The women are not permitted to teach (DIDASKO) in this manner. They are however exhorted to teach (SOPHRONIZO) in the sense of their daily living and example of life (I have made some reference to this topic in the His Church study). Some men in the church may have good ability to communicate spiritual things and Bible facts and Truths in this manner, others may not. However, that does not mean that some men will have something to say and others won’t. There are various other forms of verbal contribution that should be the norm in the local church meetings but this is beyond our current scope.
Summing up the word ‘TEACH’
Teaching Equals: In-house, participatory learning
If ‘preaching’ equals ‘evangelising’ and belongs ‘out there’ and is predominantly in and to ‘the world’ then ‘teaching’ belongs ‘in-house’ and is for the Church. Preaching is the basic declaration of Truth – men and women of the world need to hear the message of sin, death, repentance and new life in Christ – in other words, ‘The Gospel’. Those who are already saved shouldn’t need to be constantly ‘preached at’ but instead their need is to be ‘taught’ and to grow in all spiritual knowledge and wisdom in Christ. Most of our lasting spiritual growth comes through experience – experience of life in general and our experiences of the living God working in and through our lives. In tandem with our experiences we must also grow in our understanding through knowledge of the Word. Attending a Bible College and becoming a Bible expert will never in and of itself equip any man for serving God. But in balance, it must be said that even as a man lives and grows in his experience of God and life he will still be grossly underdeveloped if he does not also grow in his understanding of The Inspired Scriptures. And so we return again to an incontrovertible principle of all learning – natural or spiritual, academic or creative we cannot properly learn by being lectured we must all be actively involved in order to grow.
Go to PART 4 of this article: Word Study: EXHORT