By Fran Trascritti
Over the past few weeks, I’ve started to run again. No, I am not a runner. Yet, I run. My wife and I, in a strange and perhaps foolish moment, decided that we were going to participate in a marathon in early 2020.
Did I mention I’m not a runner?
However, since I committed to this event, I’ve been training. And after a few short weeks and many out-of-breath occurrences, I see progress. Not the kind of time and distances I would post publicly about, but it’s still progress and I’m constantly working to get better.
But I’ve become aware there are things I do—often things I don’t notice objectively—that hinder my continued progress. If a trained eye could observe me, he or she would tell me to change my stride, adjust my posture, and maybe even rethink my preparation and recovery routines when I run.
Because of this awareness, I’ve stopped engaging in self-sabotaging habits that hindered me and started trying new methods that have helped me. So far, so good.
There’s a good application here for teachers and leaders. If you want to grow and become more effective in your teaching ministry, it’s important to look closely at what you’re doing.
With that concept in mind, let’s look at four ways you might be unintentionally sabotaging your teaching ministry:
1. Forget the purpose.
It might sound a bit strange to start with this point, but purpose in any ministry is critical. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:15 that, “You have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Ministry is ultimately about making disciples, and it’s always healthy to reexamine your congregation or your group and see how your current practice reflects that purpose.
2. Don’t fully prepare.
I get it—we’re all busy people. Yet, the fact that you can be used to change lives in your ministry should excite and encourage you to be ready!
If you’re a group leader, there are many great and free ways to prepare for leading a group, such as the weekly training sessions offered through Ministry Grid and the “Leader Extras” blog for all three Lifeway ongoing brands (Explore the Bible, Bible Studies For Life, and The Gospel Project).
Take advantage of the resources available to you in order to refresh your preparation routine.
3. Fill the silence.
We’ve all been there: The group is quiet, and because no one is talking, we’re tempted to “fill the silence” with our words.
In other words, we answer our own question! And though it is okay sometimes to just let the silence sit there, this is also a good reminder to ask yourself what other techniques might be more effective.
Since different people learn differently, change your approach from time to time: Use surveys, hands-on projects, even short games to get involvement in a class session. One good resource that might help is the free eBook, Teacher: Creating Conversational Community.
4. Focus on believers only.
Yes, we want believers to grow in the Word. Yes, we know believers need to hear the gospel.
However, we also want to reach people who haven’t come to faith in Jesus. Every Christian can and should invite friends, relatives, neighbors, even co-workers, and bring them to corporate worship or group time.
Paul encouraged Timothy in this pursuit, to “do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5). Every church can and should start new groups, and if every person reaches one new person per year, this is wholly possible.
I may never be a runner, but I’ll run. I will grow and stretch to do my best—while taking note of behaviors that hinder my progress. In the same way, we as leaders can grow and stretch in our ministry for the Lord. May God honor your work as you serve Him in a new and exciting way!