5 Characteristics of Disciple-Making Teachers

In a follow-up to the blog post yesterday about Sunday school and discipleship, I thought it might be good timing to have a quick conversation about the qualities of a disciple-making teacher. I’m drawing these from Robby Gallaty’s book Growing Up: How to be a Disciple who Makes Disciples. Dr. Gallaty makes some great points about the characteristics of disciple-making teachers. I’ve used this list to evaluate myself and my teaching ministry to a group of empty nest adults:

  1. A teacher shares information, while a discipler shares life. What happens outside the classroom is just as important, or maybe more important, than what happens inside the classroom. A disciple-making teacher knows the people he leads, where they live, where they work, and he enjoys spending his free time getting to know them more deeply.
  2. A teacher aims for the head, while a discipler aims for the heart. A teacher typically loves to be thought of as the expert in the room, the one who knows things and has important ideas and content to give to the group. A disciple-making teacher, however, aims about 10 inches lower and shoots for the heart. His goal is to be used to help bring about spiritual transformation; at the heart of transformation is a change in not just knowledge, but in attitude and action.
  3. A teacher measures knowledge, while a discipler measures faith. A teacher might focus on how much he or she knows, and how much of that is transferred into the minds of group members. On the other hand, a disciple-making teacher measures success by the increasing levels of faith that his or her group members demonstrate. Obedience to Christ becomes the measuring stick.
  4. A teacher is an authority, a discipler is a servant. I actually knew a teacher who did not allow the people in his group to speak during one of his Sunday morning lectures. He had a lot of ground to cover, and questions and dialogue just slowed him down. After all, he’d studied all week and knew lots of interesting facts to share about the Bible. A disciple-making teacher views themselves very differently. That kind of teacher sees himself as a servant, the one who is last in line, the one who seeks to meet the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of his group members. The disciple-making teacher exists for the group, not vice-versa.
  5. A teacher says, “Listen to me” while a discipler says, “Follow me.” Some teachers love to hear themselves talk, but a disciple-making teacher says, “Do as I do, as I attempt to follow Christ.”

The five characteristics are mentioned on p.37 of Gallaty’s book; the thoughts about what each of those mean are mine from time spent in education ministry plus time in the classroom as a Sunday school teacher for the past 6 years. Hopefully these 5 characteristics will have you asking yourself, “Am I a disciple-making teacher?”

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