For much of the second half of April, I was helping train pastors in Zambia as part of the Hope Center Pastor Training School near Serenje. While I was there and teaching through "1-2 Timothy & Titus, with Special Emphasis on the Doctrine of the Church," the topic of teaching and preaching came up. After all, it's tough to work through these books of the New Testament and NOT talk about these things!
I love how the pastors - on their own - brought up the importance of teaching and educational environments, in addition to and alongside the important role preaching plays in the life of a church. These interactions with the pastors have stayed fresh in my mind since then.
The pastors identified a number of helpful things that distinguish teaching (in most settings) from preaching (in most settings):
Let me be clear here: I don't want to draw too sharp of a line of distinction between preaching and teaching. In my opinion, good preaching brings elements of teaching into it. And a good teacher will know when to slow down and "preach" a bit. Nor is one setting more important, while the other is unimportant.
And that's precisely my point - something that was reinforced from across the ocean by Zambian pastors - the local church needs both preaching and teaching.
The pastors in Zambia "get" the importance of preaching. Every Sunday (and often multiple times week) they get up and preach to their congregations. But they also felt a strong need for more teaching environments. When I had a chance to talk about this a bit more with leadership in Zambia, they were looking for teaching environments that had a systematic intentionality, and covered an comprehensive range of important Christian topics. For kids, youth, and adults.
The bottom line? These pastors from across the ocean were reinforcing the importance of Christian education. Building and reinforcing foundations of the Christian faith. Equipping the church with knowledge, values and skills. Doing this collaboratively, as part of a larger strategy involving multiple ministries of the church body. And focused on the purpose of the church - helping people find and follow Jesus.
As I reflect on this desire of the Zambian pastors, it makes me grateful for what I can do with the Brookside Institute, as part of a larger church body at Brookside Church that is thinking through these sorts of things intentionally. These conversations with Zambian pastors renew my excitement to continue pressing down the gas pedal - considering and evaluating and enhancing our philosophy of Christian education, and the scope and sequence of what we offer. And reflecting on what I heard in Zambia increases my resolve, having been reminded in fresh ways of the value and importance of Christian education in the life of the local church.
Christian. Husband. Father. Pastor. Learner. Contributor. Reader.