This week I am having a relaxed look at things that might help us continue to improve as preachers. If you want to see the poll on LinkedIn, click here. There is also a poll on the Facebook page here. Here are a few thoughts on training:
The concept of training – As a younger man (just about), I am always impressed when I meet older men who are hungry to keep learning. I’ve been humbled by the attitude of some in classes I have taught – I think being eager to learn from someone who is much younger is a sign of real maturity. I want to be like that. I want to take advantage of opportunities to learn more and keep growing. Wasn’t it one of the teaching gurus that stated the day you stop learning, you stop teaching? Some are so eager to influence others, yet stubbornly unwilling to acknowledge their need of being influenced. I suppose it would do us all good to prayerfully consider what our attitude to learning says about us.
Training in Preaching – The poll option states, “Further training in preaching,” but the reality is that any training in preaching is a rare privilege, even in formal training institutions. At the same time, by widening the scope of the definition, we must acknowledge that all preachers have received the training that comes from hearing others and from repeated practice themselves. Both observation and practice have an impact on our preaching. Nonetheless, why wouldn’t we be hungry for training from those that might have something to offer us? I’ve been involved in teaching preaching in Bible college, seminary, conference, cross-cultural training seminar, church-based workshop, non-traditional mentored environments, etc. All have their benefits. What has been the most helpful training you’ve received? What opportunities might you take advantage of in 2012? (Remember, it is possible to get training courses on DVD, online, in book form too.)
Training in Biblical Studies – Such a significant part of effective preaching is effective Bible handling. There’s no room for complacency here, but the opposite in this case is not dutiful diligent discipline (although it can be that if you prefer). No, the opposite of complacency in this area is the blessing of deeper interaction with God in His Word. I would ask serious questions if there weren’t a real genuine hunger for more of that in my life. So let’s look for ways to learn more (formal training), for people to learn from (knowledgeable mentors) and for resources to help us grow in that area (a book on interpreting the literary forms, a refresher on biblical Greek or Hebrew, a book on hermeneutics – I’m really enjoying An Introduction to Biblical Interpretation at the moment).
In the mad and busy schedule of ministry I understand how training gets squeezed out. But when the desire to learn and grow diminishes, something good has been throttled out of our hearts.