. of view

Earl Marshall

Where has the gift of teaching gone?

Many years ago now (once upon a time) I remember musing with Seminary colleagues and students about a day when there would be little need for communicating pastors because the Christian celebrity talking heads would be beamed in to a congregation near you.  It seems that there is a growing trend toward this style of multi-site teaching.  If this truly catches on I wonder what kind of impact this will have on the development of the teaching gift in local church contexts.

I believe the roots of this are found in the mega church movement and the proliferation of professional teaching aids that have been developed by these organizations.  Was it not Rick Warren who said of small group leaders "you don’t have to know how to teach all you need to do is plug in and press play".  And that is exactly what we have been and are doing.  Whether it is in our ministry to children, youth, adults, in small group settings, Sunday school instruction we are using canned teaching presentations or leaving it to the professionals.  We love what we see and I wonder if it is to our own peril.  In a world where excellence in presentation is such a valued commodity it is hard to compete with the packaged material.   

Ultimately the question is whether or not God wants us to develop our own "voice".  Do we believe the exercise of those who have the gifts of teaching in the church is vital to the maturity of the body of Christ?  I say lets stop being lazy and putting up with the subtle nuanced changes to our theology and ministry philosophy that watching the screen inevitably produces and let God use all of us for the kingdoms sake.


  1. I enjoy reading your comments and really agree with your Jan 24th article. God had given all of us different gifts and it is our responsibility to develop those under His direction. I also believe that no one gifting is more important than another. We are all equal in God’s eyes so the one on one relationships are just important as any large movement as seen in man’s eyes.

  2. Yeah, also how can a guy who is satellited into a church provide pastoral care customized for that church through his preaching? Good preaching counsels the specific needs of the church to whom that preaching addresses.

  3. I must admit that I have never even considered this before but after reading your posting I totally agree with you. I think this has a similar impact on worship as well. How often do we see canned worship used in place of an actual worship leader. I know there is a time and a place and it is not always convenient to have an actual person or people live lead worship with a band etc. but I sometimes wonder if there is an attitude out there that unless it is professionally presented with all the bells and whistles then I cannot “get into” worship. Don’t get me wrong I think the use of worship music videos are a really great tool but they should be used as such and not replace the development of future or existing leaders.

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