The home is the center of Christian learning because it is the center of Christian living.
Anyone who communicates the truth of the Bible should consider themself to be a Bible teacher. This includes parents just as much as it includes pastors and Sunday school teachers. I put the most emphasis on parents as primary teachers of their children because the Bible places the greatest emphasis on them as well:
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. – Deuteronomy 6:6-7
AGAIN: The home is the center of Christian learning because it is the center of Christian living.
Parents, a term synonymous with “teachers” in this post, should be people who want to change the lives of their children in a godly way. There will be no greater opportunity for modeling and mentoring the Christian life than during those teachable moments which take place in the home. Yes, your church and your school will have a lasting impression on your children, but the greatest Christian person that your children should ever know are the ones with whom they eat breakfast, with whom they play, with whom they talk, and with whom they kiss goodnight; those Christians are their parents. The Word of God must first be in your heart, and it must flow from there into the daily lives of your children.
It is a responsibility echoed in the New Testament and given to us directly by Jesus Christ. He emphasizes the role of teaching which leads to observant behavior in His famous Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20:
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
When our children, also referred to in this post as “students,” are taught to “observe” it means they apply the truth. The aspect of observance is actually the longest aspect of the Great Commission because it is a lifelong commitment. Although parents can’t make children apply the passage, they can go further in making application more concrete. How can we make solid application? Teaching the Bible is like building a bridge from the modern world to the biblical world, and back again.
Yet the questions remain. How do you know that you’re seizing this opportunity to teach your children? How do you know you are affecting their life? How do you know you are “teaching them to observe?”
Let’s start with the basics…
The teacher’s idea of what learning means will color how the teacher teaches.
What is Teaching?
That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee? – Proverbs 22:21
The basic definition of teaching, especially as derived from this verse, is “to cause to learn.” The purpose of teaching and parenting from a Christian perspective is to bring the learner into a reconciled relationship with God through Jesus Christ and to enable the learner to order all of life and learning around that relationship. When teaching for life change, the teacher can guide the student to be more like Christ.
In accordance with this verse, you can see that to know the “words of truth” is critical, and to prove their “certainty” is practical. In essence, to teach is to “touch a life, and to change it forever.”
What is Learning?
Learning is change. It is the result of someone causing me to know something and is based on evidence of understanding. Simply, if I’ve learned something then I should be able to demonstrate that knowledge. If I “teach” someone how to change the oil in their car, but the following week I see them at Jiffy Lube purchasing an oil change, then clearly my student has not “learned” how to change their oil; they are still depending on someone else to do it for them. I didn’t really teach them anything because their life hasn’t changed. When someone has learned then they will change. Therefore, the goal of learning is change.
God uses teachers to aid transformation, not just provide information.
Many teachers think their role is to simply communicate content. They say, “If I cover the material then that is sufficient to create understanding.” This kind of thinking would lead people to think that a tour of the NASA facilities qualifies them to be a rocket scientist (just what part of GxMxm/R = mxVesc2/2 don’t you understand?). As a teacher, your goal is not just to communicate content; it is to connect the content of your subject to the lives of your listeners. Content alone doesn’t change lives; connection changes lives.
Many teachers are focused on themselves, when the real focus must be on the student. Truly, the climax of teaching is not what the teacher says, but what the student does. We must transition from a teacher-centered learning environment to a student-centered learning environment. This was the environment of Christ’s “classroom” as He sought to minister rather than to be ministered to.
If connection is the key, how does a teacher cause application to take place?
Wise teachers will move beyond telling to guiding and supporting desired results.
Ask yourself this question: “What kind of teacher am I?”
• The content teacher thinks his responsibility is to cover and explain the facts.
• The application teacher thinks his responsibility is to apply the facts for lasting life change.
Life change comes by taking aim at three targets – the HEAD, the HEART, and the HANDS.
Some teachers focus on the content they desire to cover in the class, yet the starting point of the teaching of Jesus was the needs of His class. Jesus, as an application teacher, understood that content alone would not change His learners. Rather, He had to teach in a way that the heart of the learner would be challenged. The teacher that views his students as though they are computers is a mistaken teacher. We cannot assume that inputting data into the “hard drive” of a student’s mind will result in the appropriate “recall” of information at the appropriate time.
How can I as the parent-teacher promote observation and application in the “classroom” of my home, office, or church?
•Learning must involve your children.
When the focus of the lesson is on the facts that the student must learn without active participation on their part, the teacher serves as a teller. Just because your child knows that a boy named David slung a stone at a man named Goliath doesn’t make him a godly child. He only knows the facts. You’ve communicated information, but the child has not been shown the heart of the story of David and Goliath. Therefore…
•Learning must stimulate the discovery of meaning.
The teacher’s responsibility is to show the response to God which He requires of them personally. What practical truth is hidden in the stories of the Bible? Are they relevant today? Moreover, are they relevant to myself or even my children? With regard to David and Goliath, you can share with the student that David lived by faith which climaxed in his triumph over a seemingly impossible task. Is this not a vital lesson that all people must learn today?! Like David, our children (and the rest of us, for that matter) must learn to trust God in even the most dire and dreadful of circumstances of life and make real the knowledge that God can deliver us by His power and grace. Put a finer point on it by naming specific areas where your family is living by faith and trusting God for help. This makes the Bible REAL!
Application begins when the teacher begins to target the HEART and HANDS because belief affects behavior. While it is necessary for learners to hear and understand biblical content, it is also necessary that the student is inspired to believe and value the truth that is taught. But ultimately, the blessing comes not through just hearing the Word of God or even in a deep heartfelt conviction as to its importance and validity. The blessing comes in obeying or doing what it says (James 1:22).
A hearer that is a doer is always an overcomer.
At the end of the “lesson,” the goal is for our students “to know” and “to answer” using “the words of truth” in everyday life (Proverbs 22:21). If you are a Christian, you will agree that this book is true, but the question is, “Is it proven to be true in your life?” Have you experienced “truth you can touch?” “Professor” Solomon is teaching us – that is, causing us to learn – because his goal was to “make thee to know.” For his student to know, he stated that they would “Keep them [the words of God] within thee” (Proverbs 22:18) and to answer in a biblical way with the words of God “fitted in thy lips” (also Proverbs 22:18). As parent-teachers, we must do likewise. Once our students know the message of the Bible and can connect it to the various moments of their day, then life change has occurred. Thus, teaching has taken place.
As parent-teachers, we must ask, “Is teaching taking place in my ‘classroom?’” Are you teaching for life change? Are you using the methods of the Master Teacher, the Lord Jesus Christ? Are you only providing information, or are you facilitating transformation? Have your children discovered truth and made it touchable in their lives? The answers to these questions will tell you if teaching is taking place.