This year we are focusing on providing more direct care and training for our Missional Communities. We have a little more than 30 groups of men and women that meet all around South Austin to make disciples in their neighborhoods as they push each other along in their walk with the Lord. For a recent training day, I was asked to teach gospel counseling to our leaders.
Preparing to Teach
About a week before the class, I got confirmation that I was going to be teaching about gospel counseling. I didn’t think I would be able to create enough new material on my own to be able to give them (1) the best content I could give in (2) only an hours worth of time. Being able to counsel well is not something that can be taught in an hour, so I wanted to give a broad overview of what counseling is, and then give our leaders some time to actually practice it.
I asked Jason Kovacs, my previous supervisor and Pastor of Care and Counseling, to suggest some material, and he sent over 2 pages of great content for me to work with. I built off of what he gave and developed more material that would be best suited for training our leaders. I also included an adapted case study that I had previously worked through. Here’s the materials that I developed for the class.
Teaching – A Major Encouragement
If you know me, you know that just about every situation where I speak publicly has been a nervous wreck for me. So you can imagine how I felt knowing that I had an entire hour to teach in front of our leaders. All of my previous preaching labs have only been 12 minutes, and that always feels like a lifetime. But much to my surprise, once I began teaching I found that I actually enjoyed it! In fact, I had to cut some of my content short because I was running past the amount of time I had to teach. Here’s what I learned after reflecting some about this.
- In agreement with what others have been telling me, I am built to be more of a teacher than a preacher. Through being able to teach, I actually got to experience what that feels like.
- Some of the factors that contribute to me being more comfortable and skilled at teaching are the environment (leaders that I mostly knew), the ability to interact with my audience, the chance to (literally) take a breath while I listen to feedback and their responses.
- I felt incredibly comfortable with the content I was teaching, so I wasn’t having to constantly refer to my notes. I just felt secure in talking freely if we got on a rabbit trail or when questions were asked that I hadn’t prepped for.
Now for some heart transparency – what I came out of that experience most was an encouragement that God may actually equip me to be a pastor and elder someday. For each of the preaching labs I’ve had, something that has been in the back of my mind/heart is always a small voice that says, “you can’t do this”. Every time I preached, I felt like it was chipping away at me, and testifying that I won’t be qualified to be a pastor. For whatever list of reasons why I felt this way, that’s just how it’s been. But after teaching, there was a small but strong encouragement from God that I felt. The Bible clearly tells us that a pastor must be “able to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2, 2 Tim. 2:2, 24), and I felt a small confirmation from the Lord through my enjoyment in that teaching experience.
Growing and Going Forward
The advice I got after teaching from my fellow residents and supervisors was to try and take the elements of what made teaching more enjoyable and comfortable for me, and to try and incorporate those into preaching. Teaching and preaching still are somewhat distinctive from one another, but there is a way to take some principals from one and apply it to the other.
- One step towards for my next preaching lab is to prepare much more (through studying, praying over the text, etc.) in advance so that I’m more comfortable with the text we’re preaching from.
- Another is to pray for more confidence in my personality / preaching style, and try to simply relax as I preach. Our pastors have told us that it takes at least 100 sermons to find our “preaching voice”, so this is just a step towards that.