Luke 4:15 tell us that Jesus “taught ... to everyone’s acclaim and pleasure” (The Message).

Sam Rockwell

Jesus wasn’t your typical teacher. He wouldn’t fit neatly into a present-day educational situation. This is not to say that a traditional classroom is ineffective, but it is certainly not complete if it doesn’t apply “Jesus style” principles.

Challenging Assumptions

Jesus’ teaching always pierced into the motives and deeper awareness of His listeners. This is why He used parables—such as “a sower went out to sow” (Matt. 13:3, NKJV)—to indirectly penetrate innate levels of understanding, revealing the “secrets of the kingdom” (v. 11, NIV).

He wasn’t a purveyor of knowledge as much as He was revealer of embedded beliefs. He unearthed unexamined assumptions about the nature of reality and created “ah-ha!” moments without being preachy. He subversively challenged people through story and questions. This produces true reflection and self-discovery. It is radically different than “do this” or “do that” kind of teaching.

Learning expert Chris Argyris differentiates between “single loop learning” and “double loop learning.” Single loop learning is to attempt to solve problems based on determining cause and effect. Double loop learning recognizes that sometimes how the problem is defined can be the source of the problem.

How can a problem be reframed? What are the less obvious meanings, the unobserved causes, the patterns involved? Most important, we should ask ourselves how we might be unintentionally colluding with the problem.

When you teach, challenge assumptions and let learners come to their own conclusions.

Creating Experiences

Action was tied into the fabric of everything Jesus taught. Jesus wasn’t merely inspiring His disciples to act—He was teaching them while in action. He created experiences and taught them in-situ, which means in the normal location of something.

Jesus taught them in the street, on the road, by the sea, everywhere. Jesus orchestrated field trips more than He outlined lessons. He taught viscerally, experientially and in-the-moment.

He practiced what philosopher Jacob Bronowski observed, that the “hand is the cutting edge of the mind.” People learn best when they feel, touch, see and emotionally experience things.

When you teach, do it by creating experiences.

Creating Community

Jesus wasn’t much of a personal coach. I know. This sounds wrong. Jesus did engage with people one-on-one, but His primary teaching approach was within a group. He used the group’s dynamics, the group’s relational tensions and bonds, and the group’s beliefs and assumptions as a platform for change. His mentoring was multiplied many times over because He fused new knowledge with social intimacy.

New science is telling us something Jesus already knew, that learners are not so much ”units of instruction” as they are participants in cultural practices that make up a “community of learning.” This communitas, a Latin word for group bonding that occurs through a rite of passage, is the strategy Jesus chose to create breakthrough learning.

Jesus was less a traditional teacher and more of a guide for rites of passage. He led the way through barriers and boundaries; He ritualized important events, crises and normal daily routines (communion) to create learning.

When you teach, do it while (and through) creating community.

The Foursquare Church has three core Missional Objectives to guide our collective missional focus and develop a healthy culture in our churches. These include: (1) leadership development; (2) church and congregation multiplication; and (3) church health and transformation. Learn more about Foursquare’s Missional Objectives.