the weblog of Alan Knox

If there is not ONLY one teacher, then no one is teaching

Posted by on Aug 3, 2011 in blog links | 9 comments

If there is not ONLY one teacher, then no one is teaching

Arthur at “The Voice of One Crying Out in Suburbia” has written a very good post called “How can anyone learn if they are interacting?

In the post, Arthur is responding to a critique of “cell groups” that do not have a single person teaching for the entire group. Arthur rightly points out that interaction and discussion are not dangerous, but are actually necessary for the growth of the church.

In his final two paragraphs, he concludes:

The church needs to stop being afraid of the laity, of open discussion, of questions. The church too often functions like the old Soviet Union when it comes to controlling the message. The result is a laity that is ill informed and immature. Guess what. They will never stop being immature if they are constantly coddled and spoon fed teaching. Pastors/elders need to remember that while they are called to watch over the church and be watchful for wolves, they are also called to equip the entire Body for ministry and mature faith.

Elders, the church is not a seething mass of potential heretics to be afeerd of. The are your brothers and sisters in Christ. The best defense against heresy is not to control the message, it is to equip and empower the entire Body. By definition a mature Christian is not a heretic so lets stop treating our brothers and sisters as if they are guilty of heresy until proven otherwise. (Emphasis in original)

Now, I think that Arthur makes a very good point. I think his point can be backed up by the examples and commands of Scripture. Christians do not grow in maturity by listening to someone else teach/preach.

However, I want to take this a step further. In the original post (the post critiqued by Arthur), the blogger writes, “In the typical cell group, no one actually teaches. Rather, one person will moderate a conversation.” Notice the assumption: if no one person is doing all the teaching, then no one is teaching, and in fact, no teaching is taking place.

In fact, during a conversation/discussion, it is possible that EVERYONE is teaching. And, beyond that, there is the possibility that MORE people are learning during a discussion than during a lecture.

Sometimes, those questions and opinions and observations that people add to a conversation/discussion are the most important lesson being taught.

I will add one more point here… regardless of who something is taught with words, whether it is though discussion or through lecture, the best lessons are taught and learned through living examples. If we are not sharing our lives with one another, then any type of teaching (lecture or discussion) will fall far short of actually helping someone mature in Jesus Christ.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 8-3-2011

    The best college course I ever had the joy of taking was an Intro to astronomy course that had co-teachers. Interestingly enough, the Astronomy department opted for co-teachers because there was a lot of material to cover in one semester, and having two teachers meant that the little details of teaching (e.g., grading, attendance) would be easier to manage.

    Both professors were excellent, proven teachers who were masters at their subject matters, but approached the content from significantly different perspectives and with vastly different personalities. I was not alone in feeling that the course was actually ENRICHED by having two teachers rather than one.

    I always think of that astronomy course when I come across the argument that teaching requires a single voice managing the instruction.

  2. 8-3-2011

    Someone needs to lecture me about this…

  3. 8-3-2011


    Thank you for this. I will read the entire article over at Arthur’s. I spent 20 years in institutional church and I am only recently learning that there are other ways of doing church. I attended a service at a church that taught by discussion, and it was so refreshing. I was studying the spiritual gifts recently, and nowhere is there a gift of congregant or pew filler mentioned, just sayin’…

    Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

  4. 8-3-2011


    All of my MDiv classes were taught by lecture. All of PhD seminars were taught by discussion.


    Or we could discuss it…


    That’s interesting. Most people I’ve talked with who are comfortable and familiar with preaching/lecturing as part of the church recoil from the idea of discussion. I’m glad to hear that you found it refreshing.


  5. 8-3-2011

    I like this line:
    “The best defense against heresy is not to control the message, it is to equip and empower the entire Body”

  6. 8-3-2011


    Arthur’s is an excellent article.

    In my younger days, I came across a problem many leaders have, which some admitted to, with the conversation/discussion kind of meetings; they are simply scared that they will either be shown to be less knowledgeable than some “lay” people, or, will be unable to answer a question. Either way, it is a problem of pride, and inability to be honest!

    The excuses offered will be the well worn ones, some of which are mentioned in the article.

  7. 8-3-2011


    Yes, that’s a very good statement.

    Aussie John,

    One of the best things I’ve ever done when it comes to teaching is to learn to say, “I don’t know.”


  8. 8-4-2011

    Amen. In the last few years being in a home based organic church with ALL participating and ALL “teaching” as led by the Holy Spirit, I have: grown, matured, been mentored, spiritually fed, loved, discipled, lovingly corrected, sanctified, encouraged, taught, healed, able to express gifts, etc., etc. far MORE than previously in traditional/instutional churches. The sense of freedom is soooo peaceful to the soul in this environment. It is a beautiful and FREE environment that rightfully places the Godhead as leading us.

  9. 8-5-2011


    While I agree with you, I also know that discussion and dialog can be disconcerting for people who are accustomed to sermons.