Jim Poitras, Florissant, MO – Teaching is the revival ministry of the Apostolic church and ground people reached in apostolic doctrine and holiness lifestyle. It seems that attendance at Sunday school may be decreasing in some areas. We must struggle against the trend. Teaching is paramount. Teaching needs to get into every level of the local church and beyond. A brief browse through Acts would easily establish that teaching and training were happening in the New Testament churches. It was not enough to grow in numbers, but there also had to be growth in depth. The book of Acts model of education placed great emphasis on teaching throughout the church.
Arlo Moehlenpah, Poway, CA – A man once said, “Preaching is yelling while teaching is telling.” I would say preaching is proclaiming while teaching is explaining. Good teaching uses many more methods such as questions and answers, discussion, objects, etc. rather than just lecturing. I am sad to say that in the UPCI preaching seems to be more prevalent than good solid teaching. Many pastors do not know how to teach and instead only preach. Good teaching requires more time to prepare and uses more methods. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” We cannot afford to forsake teaching in churches; there is a real danger there. Where have the teachers gone? Some have passed away. However, in the last few years, our general conferences have had seminars in addition to church services. I think this is good.
John Fonzer, Moss Point, MS – Preaching is most celebrated because good preaching excites and inspires people to action. If a preacher preaches exceptionally well, they become a celebrity of sorts. That’s just the way it is. Look at mid-week Bible class attendance; in most churches, Bible Study is not that well attended. Teaching is not what many people want to hear. But teaching makes for a solid church because teaching makes disciples. For the most part, we do a poor job of utilizing teachers or setting them in an effective environment, and scheduling the type of events or services where they thrive and serve the body of Christ best. Because we don’t quite know what to do with them, they are not properly provided for, and they are not written into our budgets. We know what to do with evangelists and pastors, but we don’t know how to place teachers. While they can win souls and affect sinners, they are best at teaching the saints.
David Reynolds, Gresham, OR – In our culture we want it fast and easy. We want something exciting. We want two one-hour services per week. Preaching will move a person to act in the short term, while teaching is long lasting by changing the belief system of a person. After serving on our UPCI curriculum team for 18 years, I observed a shift away from depth and structure not only in the adult literature but also in the children and youth literature. We are not honoring our teachers. You look at what we pay a visiting preacher and what we give a teacher. We say we serve not for the money, but money is an indicator of worth in our culture. I have offered teacher training now for 40 years and have seen the opportunities for deep training drop off to almost nothing. When we do offer training, we promote “decorating the classroom.” Everyone thinks they can teach, even without real training and willingness to spend time in teacher training.
David Brown, Indianapolis, IN – Preaching for me is proclaiming the Gospel, the Good News. Teaching is educating or building up individuals in the Christian faith. We as Apostolic Pentecostals tend to blur the definitions. Also, I think there is a perception that preaching is more “spiritual” than teaching, which to me is completely false. Good scriptural teaching done under the power of the Holy Spirit can make a great impact in the lives of Apostolic saints. Teaching is hard work. I think there are still very good teachers out there – they just don’t get the publicity that they probably deserve.
Michael Wiltcher, Paradise, TX – I have seen firsthand that preaching seems to be more prevalent than teaching. Great services, it seems, are defined by the emotional impact of the message. Because teaching targets the intellect rather than the emotions, there is far less engagement from the listener. Some Christians with whom I have discussed the topic find sitting in a teaching session akin to having a root canal. One of the biggest dangers of forsaking Biblical teaching is that the lack of real biblical teaching produces shallow Christians that are a mile wide and only a half-inch deep. A Christian student who lacks sound biblical teaching upon moral and ethical values is but a lamb before ravenous wolves as they face the prevalent anti-Christian bias found on most college campuses. Admittedly, the teacher is not as glamorous of a role as a preacher. It is true that the Bible teacher may be greatly ignored by the church culture, and at times may seem completely absent. But you may be greatly assured that he is not being ignored by God. Even as we speak, God is preparing an army of teachers to rise up from the shadows to prepare His followers to be ministers to a world desperate to know Him.