I was scrolling through social media the other day, and I noticed something strange.
I saw multiple flyers advertising special preaching events with a few guest ministers being introduced, and they almost all carried the title of “prophet” or “apostle”.
The title of the prophet and apostle is seen in this scripture:
And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
It’s widely accepted that these roles are real in the body of Christ. Besides these, I’ve also heard other titles being used (some of them found in the Bible, and some not): Bishop, archbishop, overseer, worship pastor, anointed flagger, prayer warrior, revivalist, prophetic mime.
After seeing the flyers, I thought, “Why do most people in leadership carry one of these titles, but you never see anyone with the title of a teacher?”
I’ll tell you why I think so in a minute. But first, what is a teacher?
A teacher is someone with a strong ability to present subjects in a manner that common people can understand. They help us comprehend the truth about God and His Word. The content put out by a teacher will be simple, yet powerful, and also entertaining and deep when it needs to be.
Teachers are exceptional at breaking down the Bible. While they believe the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God, it’s still an old book; therefore, they understand that it needs to be properly interpreted to get the true meaning of the scriptures.
One great teacher in the Bible was the apostle Paul. He was awesome at expounding theology in his letters. He was able to teach topics that were difficult for others to grasp, but he also covered basics to get everyone on the same page.
Paul had a deep respect for the scriptures and wanted other believers to study and learn as much as possible. We should definitely recognize him as a teacher.
But why don’t others seem to carry that title today? Here’s why I think so.
1. The church feels that everyone is already doing it.
There seems to be a belief that anyone who mentions God, the Bible, or any matter concerning faith is “teaching” on these subjects.
But as you know, “teaching” is different than “preaching” or merely talking about something, even if what is being said is “powerful” and true.
So, the church might believe that there is no sense of urgency to get more teaching because they think we’re already doing this every Sunday morning.
Real teaching is effectively breaking down a Biblical or faith subject, which helps the audience grasp it and be able to teach others in this area.
It might include Biblical exegesis and understanding the language and culture of the Bible.
Also, what we teach about is crucial. One might say, “My pastor “taught” on the subject of avoiding toxic relationships today.”
Perhaps the pastor did break this subject down in a productive way. But we should still ask the question, “What are we learning about God and the Bible?”
The pastor might have used scriptures to make his points. And I do think that it’s fine to teach about a subject like this at times.
But when Paul told Titus to “teach what accords with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1), he meant to expound on the scriptures and matters of faith, not so much secular subjects.
The church should be different. We shouldn’t only teach on what people want to hear or what the rest of the world is talking about. What the church world lacks is a good comprehension of the Bible and the faith, so we should fill this need the majority of the time.
2. The church would rather learn on its own and not from a teacher.
Some might feel that we don’t need teachers because we can learn on our own through our own study and by following the Holy Spirit. This seems to be the default method of learning in the church.
“Go out, interpret the Bible however we want, form our own beliefs about God and the Word, and we’ll see you back here on Sunday morning for an encouraging message.
If we all believe something different, it’s OK as long as we don’t fight or talk about it. We all believe in Jesus anyways, right?”
The Bible mentions the importance of teachers. This is why they’re here – to help us understand these matters and bring us back to the unity of the faith.
Churches and leaders might not like teachers because they don’t want to be told that they’re wrong in certain areas.
But if we get rid of this office, we’ll have a massive hole in the body.
3. The church feels that if there are teachers in Christ, it would be the professors working at the Christian universities.
Some people believe that within a “church setting”, a scholarly word should not be brought. “Church” is for preaching, worshipping, shouting, and experiencing.
It’s believed that “teaching” is more fit for a person wanting to go to a university and get a degree in Divinity.
Because believers don’t want to go to a university and are not getting educated from their church, they search for content online.
And online is where you’ll get all kinds of opinions and theories that might be different than the local church. That’s not always a bad thing, but it could cause even more confusion and division.
Teaching is not just for the academic setting. It’s for everyone.
4. The church finds teaching boring.
Let’s face it – many Christians just don’t like to read. They also don’t like to sit through a sermon that’s saturated with teaching on a subject that doesn’t interest them.
But if teaching is boring to them, it’s because they don’t understand its role in the Body.
The best way to conquer a dislike for reading, teaching, and study is to read, be taught, and study. Eventually, you’ll acquire a taste for it.
You don’t have to become a master studier, but it is important to value it and partake.
5. It’s weird to use the preceding title “Teacher” in America.
Did you ever call any of your teachers in school, “Teacher Sarah”, or “Teacher Murray”?
Probably not. However, when I was teaching English to Chinese children, they called me, “Teacher James.” I thought it was weird at first, but then I realized that this was the way the Chinese culture referred to their English teachers.
It might sound strange to us, because we refer to our teachers as, “Mr. James”. Technically, both are correct, but saying, “Teacher James” seems to acknowledge the role of the teacher more.
Simply put, we don’t acknowledge teachers in the body of Christ because it just sounds weird to say, “Teacher James”. But this is a silly reason to ignore the role.
If we’re comfortable saying, “Prophet Smith”, “Evangelist Albert”, “Bishop Ingrid”, and “Prophetic Mime Josh”, we should normalize saying, “Teacher so-and-so”.
Let’s all grow in our appreciation for teachers in the Body of Christ and acknowledge the office of a teacher.