the weblog of Alan Knox

Whole Teaching

Posted by on Jul 5, 2010 in discipleship | 5 comments

Whole Teaching

Today, when we talk about teaching, we tend to mean “share information in such a way that the other person learns the information.”

Sharing information and exchanging information is an important aspect of teaching, but it is not teaching… at least, it is not teaching in the sense that we read in Scripture.

You see, the view of teaching as “sharing information” also views the content of teaching to be a set of proposition that can be memorized or cognitively understood. The problem is that for the follower of Jesus, the content of teaching is the life of following Jesus. The goal of teaching according to Scripture is not learning information, but living in a way that honors God. Thus, our understanding of teaching must take this into account.

So, while teaching should include sharing information, it must also include a demonstration of how that information impacts the life of follower of Jesus Christ. Similarly, it must include helping another live in a manner that honors God. It should also include exhortation for the learner to begin teaching the same concepts and life examples.

There is a belief – an invalid belief, I think – that it is possible to teaching someone how to live by sharing an example or telling a story. These are very powerful teaching methods, but they still only share information, even if that information is more easily understood because of the methods. Whole teaching must go beyond simply telling in order to include showing and helping.

The easiest example that I can think of is what Jesus called the greatest commandment: “Love God and love neighbor.” I can tell someone, “Love God and love neighbor.” I can make them memorize, “Love God and love neighbor.” I can explain to them what “Love God and love neighbor” means. I can even give them example of how I or other people have practiced the concept “Love God and love neighbor.” But, all of this is simply the beginning of teaching. It is sharing information.

If the person repeats the phrase, “Love God and love neighbor,” the person has not necessarily learned it. Even if the person has the phrase memorized and can repeat it every day of her life, she has not necessarily learned it. The person might even be able to repeat my explanations and illustrations and perhaps offer his own illustrations, but this does not mean that the person has learned “Love God and love neighbor.”

Instead, teaching requires that I move beyond the stage of telling him or her about “Love God and love neighbor” until I am demonstrating “Love God and love neighbor” to them. Then, teaching must continue to the point where I am helping the other person to live out the concept “Love God and love neighbor.” Finally, teaching includes the responsibility to exhort the other person to begin teaching “Love God and love neighbor” to someone else.

Yes, we must share information. But, we cannot stop at sharing information. Teaching requires that we share much more than information. Teaching requires that we share our whole lives.


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  1. 7-5-2010

    thanks for sharing this important understanding of learning to live by the life of Jesus! I teach 6th grade science and after 5 years of teaching and 20 years of teaching soldiers in the Army it seems to me that the church hasn’t moved beyond what culture has already learned about teaching. Teaching is a process and starts with information but must move beyond just information for it to be realized by the student. Bloom’s taxonomy is a case in point. It is the crux of education today and how well a teach can move students from just gaining information to actually evaluating life by it determines how effective a teacher really is. Yesterday, I sat in my in-laws typical Southern Baptist institutional church. After a couple songs, we listened to others sing, pray, exhort, encourage, and preach. No wonder the typical church is so inept in its people of becoming disciples and how sad that the world around us, satan specifically, is doing a better job at teaching than the church is! Here is a link to a typical bloom’s taxonomy:

  2. 7-5-2010


    Yes. As long as we continue to equate teaching/discipleship with simply information transfer, then we will not see the church mature. I really think it is that simple.


  3. 7-5-2010


    Now, that’s what I believe making disciples is all about.

  4. 7-6-2010

    I agree 100%. This is why our Sunday Schools and Youth Groups and so on and so forth fail over and over and over. We have taken the the church (and ourselves as part of the church) out of the world at the same time as we have taken the world’s ways into the church.

    Christian schools/education generally follow the same classroom-learning systems as those of the world. Even role-modeling and other “realistic” learning methods are not real life learning. And then we are surprised when our children (and us adults too) learn (behave, act upon) their interactive, real-life experiences “out there.”

  5. 7-6-2010

    Aussie John and Norma,

    Yes! Thanks for the comments.



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