As our audience gets more intellectual, there is a tendency for us to to make our teaching more and more academic. We try to find new “teachings” and new “meanings” from the Bible so that we can impress our audience. But as teachers of the word, we must be extremely careful for we will be judged more stringently than others. We must be careful not to read too much into the word of God. Some can end up expounding every word in a verse. Some use Hebrew and Greek so much that nobody understands. Of course, some actually have little knowledge of these native languages but they just refer to word study guide. But the usual problem is that while only certain nuance is only used in a certain context of the Bible, the teacher gives the whole spectrum of the meaning of the word used. While it may amazed the audience, biblically speaking, it is using a word out of context. The general audience today do not bother much, they just want something interesting. But as a teacher, we need to be careful. We are not called to be entertainers or brain teasers. We are to be faithful to the word and be a good workman approved by God.
Don’t get me wrong here, I am not against Bible study or going deep into the word of God. I am just cautioning against reading too much into the word of God. God has chosen to make certain things plain, so don’t read more than what it should. Anyway, as teachers of the word, we are not here to impress others, but to impress the word of God into the hearts of man. Don’t make the simple things of God complicated, let’s make the complicated simple.
A lot of people know the importance of discipleship. But to carry it out effectively is the challenge. It is not easy to know what content to use. Even when we have good content, it still depends on the discipler to shape and pitch the discipleship process. Here are a few pitfalls to beware of.
Some discipling programmes just too academic. They focus a lot on head knowledge. As such, disciples get to know the Bible well, but they often lack the experience of God and a big heart to serve God. They end up spending too much time arguing about theology and strategy, but hardly got the passion to get things done.
On the other hand, some programmes focus too much on experience. They are usually actively engaging in spiritual warfare. They look for signs and wonders. They pray for healing. They listen to God’s prophetic word. They may even quote a lot of Bible verses. But they are often not properly grounded in biblical theology and principles. They tend to skew towards only a certain aspects of the Bible.
There are those discipling programmes whose main objectives are to get people out to serve. Not that serving is bad, but they miss out the task of shaping the inner man. These people end up running programmes for the church, but they are not renewed from within. Some may still be carnal rather than spiritual.
Some rely too much on their discipleship classes. They just run those programmes again and again, hoping that those classes would make disciples. They just do the same thing every year. But some of these courses may be outdated and warrant a review. They forget to work out discipleship for all their members rather than only those in classes.
A call for reflection and balance
We need to constantly reflect on the things we are doing. We may be very experienced in ministry. But our experience are not always right and we don’t always learn from experience. In fact, our experience can be a hurdle instead. We need to critically review the things we are doing and be courageous to call for a change. There is no point in doing the same old things again and again.
We also need balance. We tend to focus on those areas we are good at. But in discipleship, we need to disciple not just the head, but also the heart and the hands. We need to depend very much on the Holy Spirit to keep us in check all the time.