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Teaching Philosophy and Reflections
by Bob Young

Contents: Reflections on Teaching | Philosophy of Teaching as a Ministry

Reflections on Teaching

Separating my philosophy of ministry in the setting of the local church and my philosophy of ministry while teaching and serving in the academic setting is difficult. I was trained first as a local congregational minister. My undergraduate and graduate work were focused toward church ministry. I have spent almost a third of a century as a minister, and I continue ministry even while employed in the academic arena. Now I also teach others ministry. I am an "ad-ministrator" in the sense of facilitating ministry and moving others toward ("ad-") ministry. Such is indeed ministry, but of a different sort.

As I reflect upon my life, the concept of "ad-ministrator" has described me in the various roles I have filled, both in ministry, and now in Christian education. I seek to move others toward ministry. I am moving others toward the fulfillment of God's plan for their lives according to Eph. 4:12. My role in overseeing academic disciplines which are described as "service learning" does not detract from my commitment to church ministry based on the study of the Bible and related areas. I am moving students toward ministry (service).

Many helpful views of teaching have been set forth. As a instructor or classroom facilitator, I hope to accomplish several things.

Given these challenges, the teacher in the Christian college milieu must be aware that teaching is ministry. All the rewards in teaching do not come in this life, nor in physical or material remuneration. As students' interest is piqued, as they grow and develop mentally, socially, and spiritually, as students are made into the image of what God has enabled them to become and wants them to be, something significant is happening.

Philosophy of Teaching as a Ministry

Over thirty years in a church ministry setting have provided a framework for ministry of a particular kind. What is often overlooked is that all Christians in any occupation are ministers. This philosophy statement is written from the viewpoint that teaching in a Christian college setting is in fact ministry.

Genuine ministry, whether in the church context or the Christian college context, does not depend upon outward appearance or external circumstances. Such is seldom understood. If ministry is not to be measured by worldly standards of success, how are ministers or churches, teachers or colleges, to be evaluated? Any Christian ministry which accomplishes its tasks--information, reformation, and transformation--is fraught with frailty, frustration, and even failure. Fortunately, the power for all ministry is divine and not human.

Ministry must be elastic, flexible, credible. It is easy to fake Christian college teaching. It is easy to let the well run dry. Integrity and authenticity are essential. At best, the Christian college professor in any discipline brings the biblical message to bear upon the struggles of life. The Bible professor may forget this truth and focus so strongly upon the biblical message that applications are forgotten. The professor in another discipline may become so involved with applications that the foundation of the biblical message is pushed so far into the background as to become invisible.

The rapid transitions of contemporary society have blurred definitions of Christianity, Christian missions, and Christian ministry. The task of communicating an eternal message in a temporal society, the task of teaching any truth with the eternal foundations of life in view demands an understanding of both the eternal world and the temporal world. Christian teaching is bridge building--constructing a bridge over which the student can travel between commitments to Jesus Christ and commitments to vocation in this world. Many who undertake this ministry task today have good intentions, but suffer from an impoverished view of God and a lack of understanding how this task is to be accomplished effectively.

My own ministry has grown out of my identity, background, and training. As a professor teaching Bible for life applications, I am still involved in planning and preparing preaching and teaching for local church contexts so that meaningful worship and fellowship might be enhanced and encouraged. My efforts on campus and in the larger church community are designed to move people closer to God. Effective ministry always recognizes this equipping function (Eph. 4:11-13). The most important task, however, for every Christian who would undertake genuine ministry in any context is personal spiritual health and growth. Spiritual leaders must be spiritual. Without this focus, spiritual famine will eventually come to any Christian community--the church, the Christian college, or any other one might consider. Ministry demonstrates life in this world without being of this world.

The effective Christian, knowing personal strengths and weaknesses, must in personality and ministry style, complement those settings in which ministry is accomplished to be effective. I believe innumerable doors will open when we attempt to be credible interpreters of the meaning of God and Christ in our own lives and in the lives of others. No greater task nor calling exists in all the world that Christian ministry which changes our world one life at a time.

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Page last updated May 20, 2006