Archives For communication

While preparing an outline, workbook, and PowerPoint slides for a workshop this month for the Center for Nonprofit Management I have been reminded about the four things I know about effective teaching.

3 Things I Know About Effective Teaching

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1. A teacher’s methods of teaching are only as good as his preparation.

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A couple of months ago I watched the movie Dead Poets Society which is filled with lessons about teaching.

7 Lessons I Learned about Teaching from the Dead Poets Society

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7 Lessons I Learned about Teaching from Dead Poets Society

1. John Keating (lovingly referred to as “Captain” by his students) was slightly obscure. He was always whistling to himself, walking in and out of the classroom at random times, and playing games with the students. In the beginning of the movie, it was clear that Captain did not fit the mold of the other straight-faced and curriculum-focused teachers. This contrast in teaching styles was clearest at the end of the movie when the principal of the school assumed Captain’s class and told the class to turn to the introduction of their textbook. The principal did not know that Captain had told his students to rip out the introduction. Furthermore, Captain had referred to the introduction of the book as “excrement” while the principal referred to the same essay as exceptional and profound. Continue Reading…

In 2009 I endeavored my first attempt teaching a Bible study. It was for a men’s Bible study consisting of myself and three other men of various ages. I began leading us through the book of Nehemiah and then we spent half of a year looking at the fifteen years of David’s life before he became king.

Practices for Effective Bible Study and Teaching

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This experience teaching the Bible showed me two things:

  1. I loved teaching the Bible.
  2. I had to improve my ability to study and teach the Bible.

Recently I read the book, The Christian Educator’s Handbook on Teaching. It was a great book which outlined ten tips that can help you study and teach the Bible better.

1. Be a diligent Bible student (pp. 269-272).
Every teacher should carefully study the Bible because the Bible helps the teacher grow spiritually, it guides him, guards him against sin, and encourages the teacher to move toward spiritual maturity. Continue Reading…

As a book that was written and compiled from 15th century B.C. until the 3rd century A.D., the Bible can be difficult to interpret and teach.  Yet, the Bible is God’s inspired and authored Word. As the manual and rulebook for Christians to follow it must be taught effectively.

10 Essential Tips for Effective Bible Teaching

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I recently read the book, Effective Bible Teaching by Jim Wilhoit and Leland Ryken. It was a fantastic book written to help any Christian teach the Bible effectively. Here’s the ten things I found most helpful in the book.

10 Essential Tips for Effective Bible Teaching

1. Charisma does not always equal effective Bible teaching (p. 19).
Research shows that students are poor at assessing the effectiveness of Bible teaching. Students will sometimes rate a Bible teacher as effective even if the Bible teacher only entertains the audience instead of instructing. This is important because a Bible teacher’s job is to focus on teaching truth, not on how to be entertaining and charismatic. Continue Reading…

I recently read the book, Teaching to Change Lives: Seven Proven Ways to Make Your Teaching Come Alive by Dr. Howard Hendricks.

 10 Imperatives When Teaching to Change Lives

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In today’s post I share 10 of the most important principles Dr. Hendricks shares in his book as they relate to teaching to change lives.

  1. “If you stop growing today, you stop teaching tomorrow” (p. 17). Continue Reading…

Leaders are teachers. Teaching is how leaders equip their team and prepare them for the work that needs to be done.

3 Ways to Use Gagne's Theory of Instruction for Better Teaching

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However, teaching most be done often and it must be done correctly. While reading the book, Psychology of Learning for Instruction, I learned about Gagne’s Theory for Instruction. It has three lessons leaders can learn for better teaching. Continue Reading…

Leaders must communicate and communicate well because the main way they can cast their vision, problem solve, and teach the people they lead is through communication.

Communication to Others

Over the past four years, I have given over 100 talks a year. Most of these have been as part of my job at the United Way of Stanislaus County where I talk about our work and ask people to pledge money to support us. Some might argue that a request for donations talk is the most difficult to give, thus meaning I have had to become very skilled and tactful in my communication.

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CommunicationOne of the main roles of a leader is to communicate.

Or, perhaps I should say that one of the main roles of a leader is to communicate exceptionally well. Because of the nature of leadership being about setting vision, guiding people to get there, and working through issues along the way, communication becomes a key part of that that process of leadership. Whether a leader primarily communicates in person to her team, by email, video, or even blog posts, the important thing is that a leader communicate well.

After a little thought I quickly realized that there are four reasons leaders must communicate:

  1. Communication shares vision: The primary way (and perhaps the only way) you can share your vision is with communication. The leader is the primary one responsible to share the vision with others. If a leader does not share the vision by communicating it, the odds are that no one else will. One thing I learned from Andy Stanley is that every time you communicate, it is an opportunity to share your vision. Regardless of the topic you are communicating about, you have a chance to tie that topic back into the vision you have set for your organization.
  2. Communication shows that the leader is brave: This might seem obvious, but the the fact is that most people hate both public speaking and being disliked. Since most people are terrified of public speaking it automatically gives the leader some type of authority and respect among staff because most people are not willing to stand up in front of a crowd and give a talk. Additionally, most people are civil enough to know that they will not always agree with the leader, and that is okay. They realize that humans are different and that their opinion might not always be the same as the leader. When a leader takes time to communicate key issues to staff, regardless of the topic and how staff might agree or disagree, it shows that the leader is brave to take that stance and put herself out to be vulnerable for attack.
  3. Communication keeps people motivated: Work can be difficult and workers can feel as if they are trudging through a swamp just trying to get their work done every day. The commute some people have to do just to get to work can even be a stressful and day-ruining experience before the workers even arrive to work! When a leader is able to communicate often about key things she is able to keep people motivated. Talking about the vision everyone is working towards, why the company does the work that it does, and how employees’ individual work plays a role in the overall vision are all things that will keep people motivated to work hard. Without communication, those things will not be talked about and thus motivation for work is lost.
  4. Communication brings to light problems and helps to solve them: This one fascinates me because it does not make sense. There is a special synergy that happens when problems are brought up in a meeting where the leader is communicating important information. As someone once said, “None of us are as smart as all of us.” When a leader is talking to her staff about vision, or day to day operations, and someone raises his hand to share a problem, it is always surprising at how many good solutions to the problem arise. Even if the leader does not have an idea to solve the problem, she has the authority to commission people and money to help solve it. Yet, that is often not needed. The simple act of bringing up a problem among a group of people with the leader present allows others in the room to contribute ways to solve the problem. It always surprises me the knowledge and intelligence that so-called “non-knowledge workers” have.

These are four simple reasons that I believe leaders must communicate. However, this list is not exhaustive.

Question: What other reasons do you believe leaders must communicate?

Teaching Bible studies for Church Assistance Ministry (CAM) is showing me the importance of working hard to prepare lessons a significant amount of time before I teach them.

I have learned that when I work hard to prepare a lesson a few days before I teach it, I often retain less of what I have studied and prepared. Additionally, I also have noticed that the message is not known as well inside of me. It is as if the message is still moving inside of me and that it is still in my head, not in my heart.

However, when I have worked hard to prepare for lessons and completed my outline and handouts a week in advance, I have noticed I often deliver the lesson better. I believe this is because the message has had time to sit inside of me and become who I am. The message is no longer a set of notes that I am reading from or a story I am attempting to retell. Instead, the message is something that is now part of who I am and something I am passionate to tell.

During a ministry class I was taking last year we had a guest speaker, Dr. Paul Binion, who talked about preaching and teaching.


The two parts I find very helpful from Dr. Paul Binion’s talk are when he shared with us about preparing his outlines every quarter and the importance of teaching the “so what?” at the end of his messages. Even if you do not preach in a church, these two elements are very important to any leader who communicates on a regular basis.

Dr. Binion shared how he takes a week every quarter and travels out of town to outline what he wants to preach about every Sunday for the next quarter. This helps him schedule what he wants to share and when he wants to preach about it. In the Nelson Minister’s Manual there are 28 different days (pg 201-207) that help to orient a faith community together. These are 28 opportunities that a pastor can utilize when looking to teach a congregation. When a church body interacts with each other and lives as a community it is important that they share these significant faith events together. Just as a faith community shares a common belief in Jesus, these significant events relating to their faith help to draw them together and to build their faith. I am sure Dr. Binion’s practice of preparing his outlines every quarter allows him to think through many of the important events of the year and to adequately prepare for his sermons for them. Because his church denomination (the Church of God) does not give him specific passages of scripture to teach through the year he has the freedom to choose the passages and scriptures to teach through what he desires and feels is important to his congregation.

In addition to Dr. Binion’s preparation of his sermons, he also gave us some great insight about how to effectively close a sermon. I am intrigued by Dr. Binion’s statement towards the end of his talk to our class about the “so what?” in the sermon. From what Dr. Binion expressed to us, you can go through great exegetical work and hermeneutics, but towards the end of your sermon you need to come to the “so what?” point. The “so what?” point is where you show why what you have taught is important and relevant to their lives. As pastors we need to share with the people the “so what?” point by telling them that this topic, lesson, or principle is important because it can change their life, improve their family, help them share their faith with others, etc. I find Dr. Binion’s “so what?” concept very similar to a benediction the Nelson Minister’s Manual gives us to speak at the end of a message. That benediction eloquently states, “Now may the Lord use us this week to extend and strengthen His kingdom for Christ and His glory, in Jesus’ name, Amen” (pg 198). Isn’t that the goal with teaching and preaching, to equip people with what they need to strengthen the body of Christ and help them to share it with others?

Interacting with Dr. Binion’s talk and the Nelson Minister’s Manual has been very beneficial to me and provides great insight into what I need to do to be successful as a communicator. Going forward I will be sure to set aside time to outline my thoughts well before I need to teach them and I will think about the “so what?” point of my messages.