Is Teaching Really Foundational to Discipleship?

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Is Teaching Really Foundational to Discipleship?

Is Teaching Really Foundational to Discipleship?

Article by Dennis Call

Shortly after returning to Fort Campbell, Kentucky from my second deployment to Iraq, a severe winter storm moved through covering everything in the area with a thin layer of ice.  It was absolutely breathtaking to behold.  The next morning was even better, as we discovered it had snowed more than five inches (I know, five inches is a light dusting to some). 

After we ate breakfast, my oldest son and I went outside to play in the snow.  As was typical with my boys, the rougher the play the better, so we started to throw snowballs.  While we were chucking snow around, my younger son decided he wanted in on the action and had mom get him dressed so he could join the fun.

In the meantime, we were making snowballs near our deck.  When we’d exhausted our supply of snow at the base of the stairs I moved over by our swing set as my boys waited. 

As I walked across the yard I heard a soft voice behind me calling, “Dad did you make these foot prints for me?”

When I turned around my older son was only a few steps behind me with his feet firmly planted in the foot prints I had just left in the snow.  God couldn’t have made a clearer statement about the importance of leading my family well than He did that morning.  My children were watching!

I began asking myself two simple questions that day.  First, what am I teaching my children about God in what I think, say, and do?  Second, will I lead them well and toward the Lord, or will I lead them poorly and astray? 

These same questions hold true in regard to Christ’s command to make disciples.

The Importance of Teachers

Each and every day teachers mold the future of their students through impacting their views and helping them to develop understanding. Teachers have the ability to “foster creativity, develop character, and give students lenses with which to view the world.” 

The Lord not only commands us to make disciples, but He modeled how we are to go about that work, heavily emphasizing the importance of teaching. In his second letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 

There are four generations of teachers in this short sentence:

  • 1st Generation—Paul
  • 2nd Generation—Timothy
  • 3rd Generation—Faithful Men
  • 4th Generation—Others

Simply put, Christianity is intended to be generational.  Think about the impact four generations of faithful Christians can make.  We’re not talking about pastors or missionaries here. God has called every Christian to this workAre we taking our ability to influence seriously?  Some are, but there remains an ill-informed majority of Christians who have not submitted themselves to this great and blessed task.

“Biblical illiteracy leads to confusion, conflict, and compromise that undermines what it means to be a disciple of Christ.”

A Scandal of Biblical Proportions

Earlier this year the Barna Group completed a study revealing “51% of churchgoers don’t know of the ‘Great Commission.’”  Just as disturbing is that only one in four have heard of the “Great Commission” but don’t know what the phrase means. 

Unfortunately, this trend is nothing new.

In the last few years a number of studies have shown the scandalous trend toward Biblical illiteracy among Americans.  The problem is in large part generational.  Young postmodernists hold subjective views of truth rejecting Biblical authority—this shouldn’t be too much of a shock.  What is shocking however, is that according to researchers Christians barely fared any better.  As an example, is “God helps those who help themselves” a Bible verse? 82% of Americans believe it is.  81% of self-identified born-again Christians believe the same thing.  No, it is not a Bible verse.  In fact, the truth is we are helpless apart from God’s super abundant grace.    

In the article referenced above Dr. Albert Mohler makes the consequences abundantly clear.  Christians without a commitment to teach Biblical truth “will produce believers who simply do not know enough to be faithful disciples.”  This Biblical illiteracy leads to confusion, conflict, and compromise that undermines what it means to be a disciple of Christ.  

Developing our knowledge of biblical truth is a deliberate act. Those who teach must commit to personal study of God’s Word, for in Christ alone are the words of eternal life.  The Apostle Peter wrote that by God’s divine power and giving all diligence will we be able to “add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.  For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Teaching is Leading

Recovering our Biblical foundation begins at home.  Parents are the most important educators of their own children, diligently teaching them the Word of God.  My two young sons are now teenagers and they have three younger siblings hot on their heels.  I still ask myself regularly, “am I leading them well?”  I’m making footprints for them to follow, so I had better know where I’m leading!  I had better be deliberate in what I teach them about the Lord!  Then I will be able to teach others also.

Whether we admit it or not, those around us are looking for an example to follow.  How we live teaches them far more than what we might say.  For this reason, living God’s truth as teaching is absolutely foundational to discipleship. 

How are you teaching those you lead?

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If you’re looking for discipleship, click on the link below to join us on one of our Soldiers For Faith Call-In Bible Studies.

Dennis Call

Dennis Call joined the Army as an infantry officer shortly after the 9/11 attacks on our country, serving fourteen years on active duty.  During his Army service, Dennis deployed for thirty-three months to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the Global War on Terror.  Prior to joining the Army Dennis served as the Director of College Ministries at First Baptist Church in Texico, N.M. where he mentored students at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, N.M.  Dennis and his amazing wife Katie live in Colorado Springs, CO with their five children (four boys and one super sweet daughter).    

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7 thoughts on “Is Teaching Really Foundational to Discipleship?

  1. Leo Reply

    Knowledge is power and spiritual knowledge is truly a gift from God. It teaches the way of life in relationship with our Creator. I am reminded here that my actions are so much more impactful than my words or lectures. How I act in troubled times will speak volumes to my relationship with Christ. And the grace is sufficient for when I fail which I do I am forgiven . Thanks Dennis ….for reminding me that people are watching …..in wonder

  2. Victor Hudson Reply

    Great insight Dennis! Loved the picture of your son standing in your footprints. No better picture of succession planning than that. It’s sad however, to think that a nation bent on inculcating biblical literacy has moved so far off course, and today (as Barna discovered) more than 51% of church going Americans are clueless when it comes to the Great Commission. How far have we fallen?! (as a nation. Thus, as you mentioned, faithful men must teach other faithful men God’s precepts, promises and principles, starting with fathers and husbands becoming resident teachers to their children and to their generation. Thanks for the reminder. And thanks for serving our beloved nation.
    -Victor Hudson USMC -1998

    • Ranger Call Reply

      Semper Fi my friend. Thanks for your comment and your willingness to stand for others. Looking forward to meeting you at the 2018 Standing Strong Conference in NJ.

  3. Jason Knox Reply

    Dennis, thank you for this. Very good reminder that we are constantly given moments of opportunity to disciple. The Barna stats are staggering, I wonder how long they have been asking that question and how the numbers have looked over time.

  4. Jay Keally Reply

    Be teachable. If you are not teachable how can you teach? Listen. If you’re not a good listener how can you learn? If you put yourself first, how can you serve others? If you talk to talk and don’t walk the walk, in His footprints, you’re just a pew warmer. If your default reaction is not vertical than how can you be effective in the horizontal. We aren’t called to fill the pews with members. We are called to fill the world the disciples. Anybody can read the Bible, It is important to study and understand the Bible.You must find a church that has Pastors that teach the Bible and explain the Bible with God’s truth and without false doctrine. We have been called and elected to fulfil the Great Commission. Be Bold. Be Strong. Be Courageous.

  5. Scott Van Vorst Reply

    I was out having dinner with my niece and nephew the other night before I got the opportunity to read this blog. No coincidence we were talking about the life-changing impact of biblical mentoring and teaching youth during our conversation. Isaiah 52:7

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