Academic Teaching v. Churchly Teaching

I’m getting my first taste of classroom teaching this semester, and though I am enjoying it, I am learning just how much work it involves. Teaching in the classroom is a whole different “ball of wax” than teaching in the Church. Though I am teaching Introduction to the Old Testament, I am teaching it at a state-run institution, to students who are paying money to get college credit (as opposed to Christians who come because they want to grow in their knowledge of God’s Word). Most of the students have some exposure to the Bible, but they come from a variety of backgrounds and traditions, so I have to try to keep the teaching somewhat ecumenical.

So far, I think it has gone pretty well. There are days when I feel like things really clicked, and there are days (like today) when it seems as though the minutes drag by. Trying to cover the entire Old Testament (and Intertestamental Period) in one semester is a quite a bite to swallow. Determining what material to teach and what to leave out can be a frustrating endeavor. There is so much that one could say! I do try to weave into my lectures various Christian themes and parallels to the New Testament. It’s hard not to when you see the Old Testament as Christian Scripture. I make no bones about the fact that everything in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms points to and is ultimately about Christ (Luke 24; John 5). Peter Leithart’s book A House for My Name has come in handy in understanding the “storyline” of the Old Testament.

Needless to say it is a constant learning experience. I use all sorts of resources to prepare my lectures. I try to use some power point presentations to supplement my lectures. One of the things that is challenging for me is that I am used to having a lot more discussion when I teach. In Bible classes I tend to engage the people a lot more and they tend to offer a lot more throughout the course of a Bible study. So far I have not been able to do this successfully in my class. I realize this goes with the territory, but I am not used to standing up and speaking for an hour and fifteen minutes.

I’m sure things will improve over time. I hope to gain more experience with this in the future. And I hope I’m not completely boring my students to death!


About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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