SUNDAY, MAY 22, 2011
RESUSCITATION OF THE CHURCH’S TEACHING AND PREACHING MINISTRY
TREATMENT OF SOME KEY WORDS:
A. RESUSCITATION: According to Concise Oxford Dictionary Tenth Edition, Resuscitation as a noun comes from the Latin ‘resuscitat’, ‘resuscitare’ which means ‘raise again’.
But as a verb, resuscitate is:
(i) Revive from unconsciousness:
C.f before election in one of the states of Nigeria in the West, Obasanjo slumped in a service but was shortly resuscitated as he later joined the service and stayed till the end. It can happen to anybody at anytime.
(ii) Make active or vigorous again
In both senses, the organizers of today will like us Senior Clergymen to revive, make active or vigorous again the work of teaching and preaching in the church of today. At present, the church is actively or vigorously loosing both young and old to some church denominations that have come up lately and seem to be too desperate with flowing congregations.
B. TEACHING: From Concise Oxford Dictionary Tenth Edition, we deduce that teaching is a noun and comes from the verb teach.
To teach entails:
(A) i. Impart knowledge to or instruct (someone) in how to do something especially in a school or as part of a recognized programme.
ii. Give instruction in (a subject or skill)
iii. Cause to learn by example or experience
(B) Advocate as a practice or principle.
The implication from the above therefore is, one who imparts knowledge, instructs, causes people to learn, and is now known as a teacher. Jesus qualified as one ‘Rabbai Rabboni’ – teacher. Necessarily, teaching became listed as one of the gifts of the spirit in I Cor. 12…, Eph. 4v11-12. Paul urged that if any man has the gift of teaching, ‘let him teach’ Rom. 12v7.
The church is a sort of school, the pupils are the members/converts and they need to be taught, guided for the salvation of their souls. And so teaching becomes imperative.
C. PREACHING: C. H. Dodd, (1944), says of preaching ‘is the public proclamation of Christianity to the non-Christian world’. It is not religious discourse to a Christian closed group of initiates, but open and public proclamation of God’s redemptive activity in and through Jesus Christ.
G. Friedrich asserts that preaching ‘is heralding; the message proclaimed is the glad tidings of salvation’.
NOTE: It is not unusual therefore to distinguish between preaching and teaching – between Kerygma (Public proclamation) and didache (ethical instruction) Matthew’s summary of Jesus’ Galilean ministry, ‘He went about all Galilee, teaching…preaching… and healing’ Mtt. 4v23.
The church leaders of today should follow in the footsteps of their master.
OLD TESTAMENT AND TEACHING
In the Old Testament, we have a clear instruction on teaching. God delivered His children from the land of Egypt and therefore He says: ‘only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when He said to me, ‘Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children’ Deut. 4v9-10.
Also, the Hebrew Shema makes it mandatory: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads’. Deut.6v4-8.
The content of their teaching is woven around what God did for them in Egypt when He delivered them from the Land of Bondage. Again, the love of God uncompromisingly being monotheists. These are to be impressed, talked about when they sit at home, walk on the road, lie down or get up. More forcefully, they have to use them as symbols too on their hands, foreheads, doorframes, gates. Impartation of knowledge is not easy, teaching methods are essential to help learners internalize and live it out later. God was particular in the teaching, instruction to be handed out to ensure that the whole Israelite community will be conscious of their God – a jealous one indeed. God asserts incontrovertibly:
‘The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other people, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath He swore to your forefathers that He brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh King of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep his commands. But those who hate Him He will repay to their face by destruction; He will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate Him’. Deut.7v7-10.
Leaders of every family are to ensure that these things are passed on/taught from generation to generation.
VEN. ERNEST ONUOHA
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Retreat Centre,