unLearn: How To Teach/Preach SO THAT You Communicate Effectively


"To be a disciple is to be a learner.

The Great Commission thus calls us to make disciples by educating them in the way of Christ.” 

Dr. Kevin Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic Theology at TEDS

At the 2023 Gospel Coalition Conference on Pastors and Theologians in a Post-Christian World




#ItSeemsToMe…it depends on what one means by educate.

by Phil Miglioratti


Western education is building-based, lecture-dominated, information-driven, memorization-measured.


We speak to an audience (“a group of listeners or spectators” … teach them to be silent and expect them to be agreeable; doctrines are not open to discussion (even though debate and disagreement are healthy learning methods) … which means we educate through one-way, static, indoctrination … that was necessary when few could read and those who could had access to very few books.


We will continue to struggle making “disciples by educating them in the way of Christ” until we reimagine our modes and methods of educating.


Churches utilize centuries old methods: lecture, preach, monologue, fill-in-the-blank questions, hymn books…


Our culture thrives on discovery, creativity, research, participation, conversation, technology…


“The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be ignited." ~attributed to Plutarch


Jesus talked while he walked, enlisted disciples, asked (and answered with) questions, taught truths to crowds and at dinner tables, utilized sermons and stories (parables: “juxtaposition, comparison”), sent disciples on missional assignments, modeled theology and ministry by confronting religious rulers - confounding political leaders - seeking out an abused woman - touching untouchables - ignoring crowds to heal ignored people…


Educating must be more than telling listeners what to believe and how to behave … 

  • We must be relational; coaching individuals …
  • We must utilize interaction; questioning small groups …
  • We must lead learners to reach conclusions by investigation; self-study opportunities 
  • We must focus on character-maturity as our desired outcome; nurturing (“to help the growth or development of”) leaders


“Faith is not a subject to be studied. Faith is a relationship to be nurtured.” Thom Schultz


  • We must recover the distinctions between belief (truths; doctrines and faith (trust; devotion)
  • …so that, we develop both belief and faith, we make disciples who hold fast to truths and stand firm in trust, as we build Christ followers who are devoted to live out the doctrines confirmed by our Lord Jesus.


Reimagine the process of educating as: indoctrinate (“to imbue with a usually sectarian opinion, point of view, or principle”) but also inseminate (“plant seeds”) and illuminate (“providing insight, clarity, or understanding”)



  • Reassess the modes and methods you employ to proclaim the message of good news entrusted to the Church (1Thessalonians 2:4).
  • Recalibrate  how you can incorporate, feedback, interaction, exploration, discussion.
  • Rethink how to express your role of teacher/preacher/leader through coaching (instruction with demonstration), mentoring (guide, counsel, shepherd), facilitating (assist to advance, move forward), tutoring (skills), training (how-to instruction).
  • Reshape meetings and ministries:
    • Review focus 
      • Is the purpose: Worship? Fellowship? Discipleship? Leadership? Stewardship? 
    • Rethink frequency
      • How often can people come?
      • How long are their attention spans for each segment
    • Redesign format to include segments for:
      • Inspiration 
      • Instruction 
      • Investigation 
      • Interaction
      • Intercession 
      • Implementation 
    • Return to this process to evaluate progress.
  • Recite this as your prayer:
    Lord, may "we announce the message about Christ, and we use all our wisdom to warn and teach everyone, so all of Christ's followers will grow and become mature." Colossians‬ ‭ 1:28‬
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