The Goal of the Teacher/Leader Is To Make Disciples
The goal of a Bible Teacher or Leader is not to just to make good Bible students, but to make disciples. In John 5:39, Jesus reminds the Bible scholars of His day that knowing God’s Word is not the end. Knowing the Author of God’s Word through a saving relationship with Jesus Christ is the end. Disciples pursue a growing relationship with Christ through knowledge of God’s Word. Growing knowledge of God’s Word is the foundational principle of discipleship. That relationship with Jesus Christ, coupled with a growing knowledge of the Bible, and energized with continual filling of the Holy Spirit produces disciple-making disciples.
Disciple-Making in a Traditional Sunday School or Bible Class
Even in a traditional Sunday School class, the goal of teaching must end with gain in Bible knowledge. While knowledge of Bible content and doctrine is vitally important in the life of the Christian, teachers should teach in a way that leads people to grow in discipleship with the goal of becoming disciple-making disciples. These five principles can help transform a traditional Sunday School class into a disciple-making community.
Principle 1 – Prepare With Prayer
Begin preparing your Bible lesson on Sunday or Monday for the next Sunday.
- Pray for God to speak to you through the Bible passage.
- Read the Bible passage carefully from several translations.
- Pray some more. Pray for your class members by name, especially that God will speak to them through the passage.
Principle 2 – Prepare With Knowledge and Understanding
By Tuesday or Wednesday go deeper into your Bible study. Keep praying. Read the passage in its context by reading sections before and after the lesson passage. Look up parallel passages. Read cross-references. Prayerfully ask yourself these questions every day through the rest of the week, and write down your responses:
- What does this Bible passage say? (observation)
- What did this passage mean to the writer and to the recipients? (context)
- What does this passage mean for me and for class members? (explanation)
- What life changes (attitudes, feelings, words, actions) does this passage require of me and in the lives of class members? (application)
Principle 3 – Teach To Transform
Pray that God will transform lives through this Bible study. Remember, we’re not teaching just to fill minds with knowledge. We are teaching disciples to observe all things He commanded us. So, we teach in ways that the Bible challenges the people to change. Present the passage by contrasting the patterns of the world with transformed living through renewed minds (Romans 12:2). Ask leading and probing questions that require thought. Ask questions that are hard to answer. Stimulate discussion and bring them to a proper understanding of God’s Word.
Principle 4 – Trust God for Transformation
You can’t transform another. You won’t transform another. Only God can do that. Pray for your class members to be transformed by the Bible lesson. Your task is to present the Bible. Remember what Jesus said, “Go and make disciples by … teaching them to observe everything I taught you.”
Principle 5 – Grow Smaller
This is the Biblical model for making disciples: Find several people in your class who are hungry for spiritual growth and spend extra time with them. Jesus had a special relationship with the Twelve, but He had very close relationship with three: Peter, James, and John. He shows us the value in the larger group (the twelve), but the greatest disciple-making relationships He built were among these three. Invest yourself into their lives, teaching them and showing them how to be a disciple. Disciples make disciples.
Share Your Ideas and Experiences
I would love to read your thoughts and experiences, and I hope you’ll share them to help others become disciple-making teachers and leaders.