“You know, I think I need to start reading my Bible everyday. It seems to really help,” one of our upperclassmen students told me after one of our retreats. “Really?” I said, trying not to let my sarcasm show through. “Yeah, after that guy spoke about how he met with God I realized that is something I need to do and it can change my walk with God.” “Interesting, have you never heard that before?” I was trying really hard to sound genuine and sincere in that question, but if I’m honest I was screaming in my head, “You’ve heard that from me almost weekly for 2 years!” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard something like that. I say “Read your Bible, pray, share your faith” they write it down, but a guest speaker says it and all of a sudden, “whoa, you know we should really read our Bibles, pray, and share our faith.” It’s amazing! One of the best things you can do for your students is to bring in outside voices, whom you trust, to speak to and train your students. Here is why:
A FRESH FACE ADDS A FRESHNESS TO A FAMILIAR TOPIC
As teachers we all have patterns and ways we see things and articulate ideas and thoughts. This comes across in how we teach. We all have a favorite way we like to share the gospel, articulate God’s goodness, or talk about the depravity of man. We have our analogies and familiar expressions. Sometimes the familiarity of hearing us dulls our students to concepts and ideas but a new face has a way of expressing familiar truths in less familiar ways with new analogies and comparisons that help connect the idea to a wider range of students. It’s amazing how something you’ve said a hundred times comes to life in the heart of your students once they hear someone else say the same thing a different way!
THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO KNOW MORE THAN YOU
I’m not specifically talking about you, per se. I’m sure you’ve got this all figured out, but I don’t. I’m just faking it until I strike it rich on one of those pyramid marketing schemes. But seriously, there are people who may be more knowledgeable than you in areas. Let your students learn from the best. There are people who practice intimacy with God better than I do. I want them training my students on that. The guy who can toss a packet of 250 verses out to the crowd and ask them to quiz him on his memory verses in two different languages is a much better voice for Scripture memory than the rest of us. Let him teach! Don’t feel like you have to be the teaching expert on everything. Utilize others’ strengths and experiences to train up your students as well.
IT EXPANDS THEIR NETWORKIt does our students good to meet and learn from others that may not necessarily serve on your campus. We always bring in different people to do training with our leaders. I try to bring in people who influenced me or trained me to come and do the same with our students. It helps our students see that they are a part of something that extends past their generation or their campus. It also creates opportunities for students to know others doing ministry and other ministry opportunities out there. Probably one of the most rewarding things for me having people who mentored me come and speak to and train our students is that now my students know that person and can call them a friend. All of a sudden things like radical obedience to Christ and discipleship become a big picture thing instead of a thing that only our ministry does.
IT FREES UP SOME OF YOUR TIME
Who doesn’t want another 6-8 hours back in their week? If we are constantly spending 6-8 hours sequestered in our studies preparing for a sermon or Bible study then that takes away from effective practical ministry alongside students. If there is someone who can occasionally come in and teach for you once a month or so that frees up some of your time to do other things that need to be done, then why not utilize them? Please hear me out, I’m not saying outsource your teaching and speaking time to somebody else so you can have an extra day in your week. Your students need to hear from you teaching the Bible to them regularly. You need to be the constant, consistent voice they hear, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to be the only voice they hear.
Leroy Eims talks about cross-discipleship in his book The Lost Art of Disciplemaking. Bringing another person in to spend time with your disciples in order to help access where they are at and what needs to happen for their spiritual growth. Personally, my students have benefitted greatly from others coming and teaching them, training them, and spending time with them. Even more than that though, I’ve learned more about the strengths and gaps in our ministry by sitting down with leaders who have done training with my students. Just like they are a fresh voice to our students they also serve as a fresh set of eyes on our ministry. It sometimes takes a shot at my pride, but my student and my leadership get better because of it. So let’s keep the goal in mind. We are here because we are called to train up students to send them out. From the harvest to the harvest. We are not called to gather students just to hear us teach. One of the ways we can help develop our students is expose them to trusted voices who can supplement and complement what we are teaching them in order to prepare them to be sent out.