Augustine (AD 354-430) wrote that biblical education meant “moving the minds of the listeners, not [simply] that they may know what is to be done, but that they may do what they already know should be done.”1
Augustine’s ancient advice is a good reminder for us all. The purpose of any Bible class is not to make spiritual smarty-pants out of God’s people so they can answer all the questions in Bible Trivial Pursuit. No, we want God’s people to know God’s Word, to believe it, and to put it into practice. What did Jesus say? “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24). Christian authors Rick and Shera Melick even made up a word when they wrote: “The goal [of Bible study] is transformactional learning: learning that acts.”2
Of course, our Bible studies shouldn’t be a series of “How To” lessons (“How to Have a Successful Marriage”; “How to Budget Wisely”; etc.). Our lessons will clearly teach God’s law so that we are convicted of sin. Our lessons will also firmly center on Jesus and what he has done to win forgiveness. So yes, we will want to help our students grow in the knowledge of our Savior (cf. 2 Peter 3:17,18).3 But God has also promised that Holy Spirit-worked faith in Jesus does lead to change and action in a repentant sinner’s life (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:3).4 This change and action is something we may intentionally encourage when teaching. Through the next several Teach the Word articles we’ll explore some practical ways to do that.
1 Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana, 4.12.27. Italics added.
2 Rick and Shera Melick, Teaching that Transforms (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2010), 186.
3 2 Peter 3:17,18a: “Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (NIV 84)
4 1 Thessalonians 1:3: “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NIV 84)
You can and should target every learning style at some point in every lesson.
If you can teach in a way that reaches all four styles simultaneously, you will be much more likely to hold the attention of your entire audience.
After looking at all of these four learning styles, you probably have the same big question I did:
How can one possibly reach all four of these learners at the same time?
Dear shepherds of God’s people,
How many of you remember what we were taught on the first day in Dogmatics class as Middlers at the seminary? We learned that theology is a “habitus practicus,” that all (scriptural) theology is practical—it is for people (Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:15,16). Perhaps at the time we did not always appreciate every fine dogmatical definition and distinction—in Latin terms and phrases—made by Quenstedt and Gerhard. Such was not the case, however, in our courses in pastoral theology. In “PT” it always seemed obvious that we were learning the very “practical” nuts-and-bolts aspects of the ministry—how to “be a pastor,” how to bring God’s Word of law and gospel, properly distinguished, to the hearts and minds and lives of God’s people. In our PT classes we became very familiar with the book The Shepherd Under Christ by A. Schuetze and I. Habeck. And I’m guessing that everyone reading this letter has a copy of that book on his library shelf.
Today I’d like to talk to you briefly about a new book on pastoral theology, authored by the senior Schuetze’s son, Professor John Schuetze. The book is Doctor of Souls: The Art of Pastoral Theology. I will let Professor Schuetze explain in his own words the reason and need for the new PT book:
Talk learners are the opposite learning style of the Research learners.
Talk learners love to rephrase to learn. They desire verbal exchange immediately (hence the name “Talk learner”).
They prefer to learn by collaborating with others and being part of a team (or having a study buddy). They prefer studying things that directly affect people’s lives, rather than impersonal facts or theories. They also love personal attention and encouragement from instructors. (Many talk learners will get tutors just for this reason alone).
Dear fellow servants of the Word,
Our pluralistic society insists on blurring the differences between denominations under the guise of being more loving and tolerant. After being bombarded with this message for many years, we may all have loosened our grip a bit on why we are Lutheran. Some of the folks on our membership rosters may mistakenly view our heritage as more of a cultural thing: “My family tends to be Lutheran.”
The celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation gives us a wonderful opportunity to teach that our heritage as Lutherans is not a matter of culture but of standing on the chief doctrine of Scripture: justification by grace through faith. It encourages us to restudy the Scriptures, to grow in our understanding of what Jesus has done to right our broken relationship with God—we are justified because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross—and to grow in understanding of how God brought his church back to focus on that chief doctrine.
Two Bible studies from NPH will help your members grow in their appreciation of their Lutheran heritage and in their understanding of core Biblical truths. Both use the Reformation as the context for teaching these truths. Both include a video segment for each lesson, which will appeal to those who learn best visually. Altogether, the two studies can be used in a variety of venues, bringing the foundational truths of Scripture before a broad spectrum of God’s people. Continue reading
Dear Fellow Musician,
“I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me” (Psalm 13:6).
We rejoice each year in the gifts God gives to his church on earth for the proclamation and praise of his goodness, in particular the gifts of music and faithful composers and arrangers. The last few months have seen the release of several new music products. One is from the newest and growing series that NPH offers, Hymn Settings for the Contemporary Liturgical Ensemble. Named for their hymn tune, these arrangements for piano, guitar, and additional instruments—sometimes identified as a “contemporary ensemble”—are designed to accompany the singing congregation. With the assistance of song leaders, the congregation can sing right out of the hymnal. “Erhalt Uns, Herr” serves as the tune for three hymns in Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal. Other arrangements in the series include the tunes “Nun Freut Euch” and “Sieh, Hier Bin Ich.” For a single price, each arrangement comes with a full score and parts for instrumentalists. Full previews are available at nph.net, and more are planned for future release.
“Create” learners are the exact opposite of the Step learners.
Create learners love to synthesize to learn. They desire to generate something (create something) in order to really “get it.”
They prefer to learn by being creative and using their imaginations and creative ideas to plan and organize concepts. They prefer working on a number of tasks at one time, discussing real problems and looking for real solutions. They also enjoy searching for alternative solutions to problems, looking beyond those normally considered. (Some might call this divergent thinking.)
Create learners learn best with creative and artistic activities that are used along with open-ended discussions about personal and social values. They do best with activities that enlighten and enrich understanding, such as stories, dramas, etc.