Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Teachers wanted

A few years ago, about the time I was in seminary, the general movement in preparing church leaders was to focus on the skills and gifts of organizational leadership. That trend is reversing in many circles as churches are more and more looking for pastors to be shepherds of the flock. A shepherd in the field has one goal: to help his flock thrive. This goal is met through two clear objectives: leading the sheep to fresh, healthy grass, and protecting them from danger along the way.

While thinking this over this morning I came to a realization about the first objective. That is, the shepherd doesn't regularly feed the sheep. He helps sheep to feed themselves. As such, leaders of the church need to be helping people to thrive through leading them to the place they aught to be. In modern language, leaders need to be about the business of teaching, not educating.

Defined by Merriam-Webster's:
teach: to cause to know something.
educate: to provide schooling for .

We often think of these terms interchangeably. They aren't. Teaching is freeing. It is about helping one to discover or uncover knowledge. Educating is about a system; it's about making sure that the person gets through all the important hoops so that they come out "qualified." Teachers think about expanding the student's mind. Educators think about expanding the students' portfolios. Teachers address the needs of the individual. Educators address the mechanism where many are processed as they are certified for something beyond.

The church needs more teachers to open the minds of the next generation. We don't need systems to process people. We need people who lovingly challenge others to seek out knowledge and use the knowledge so they can thrive.