Team Teaching: Preaching Unity in Diversity
In some cities there is only one international church. Christians of all stripes, creeds, and theological persuasions join in community together. A little taste of heaven? Or guaranteed grumbling no matter what kind of sermon is preached?! Bandung International Church uses Team Teaching as a unique, yet effective way to feed and build our diverse community.
A number of years ago we stumbled across a unique surprise. It started with an experiment to demonstrate the differences of three spiritual gifts focusing on communications. We asked three church members to address the Bandung International Church (BIC) over three consecutive Sundays all preaching from John 1:1-18. One exegeted the passage as a teacher. Another proclaimed the truth in a prophetic way. And yet another exhorted the church based on that text.
The same passage was preached, but with different backgrounds and perspectives. The same pulpit was used, but with different delivery styles. The same truth was proclaimed, but with different applications. The congregation heard more of the fullness of God’s Word through three speakers than one alone could bring. This discovery led us to experiment further with a new model for feeding our souls at BIC. We call it Team Teaching.
Our current application of Team Teaching is to create a preaching series. In these series we don’t duplicate passages, rather, we ask speakers to preach consecutively through a book of the Bible. The focus of the preaching series is the book of the Bible, not the preacher. A well-organized preaching series with outlines included in the bulletin each week bring unity to the whole process.
We create a Team Teaching series by dividing up the passages among several church members based on gifts and experience. The pastor also joins the Team Teaching schedule. We gather the speakers to discuss the overall flow of the series, and make a few clarifications. The speakers commit to sharing resources throughout the series and praying for one another.
In 2003, seven speakers preached through the book of Ephesians. A Bible translator preached on the meaning of 3:14-21. A person gifted in unity preached the 4:1-6 “unity” passage. A person with marriage counseling experience preached on marriage from 5:22-24. A person with first-hand experience in spiritual warfare preached on 6:10-20.
We’ve used Team Teaching on other books and topics. Nine speakers did a series on the Sermon on the Mount. Three speakers preached a five-week series on BIC’s Foundation. BIC doesn’t use Team Teaching all the time, perhaps two thirds of the year. The rest of the time our pastor preaches a whole series.
We have observed that Team Teaching brings the following benefits to Bandung International Church:
- A more balanced theological perspective and application is communicated through the various speakers
- A greater variety of preaching styles and personalities are displayed in the service, which connect with a greater variety of people in the congregation
- An element of team support is added to each sermon and speaker; the team of speakers shares resources and encouragement, and prays for each other through each series.
- More people have an opportunity to use their gifts leading to a more holistic church body
- Greater ownership of BIC as an overseas church “home” is developed
- Frees the pastor of 10-15 hours a week sermon preparation so that he may focus on other needs such as evangelism, equipping, and leadership
Unity in Diversity
The international church is often made up of people of diverse theology and practice. BIC dogmatically maintains Christian orthodoxy, while dogmatically allowing a diversity of Christian expression. Team Teaching capitalizes on our diversity to live out Body life up front Sunday mornings.
We often hear comments like, “Now, that was a great sermon!” The irony is, each week it is said about a different speaker. Different people get excited about different sermon styles. Our objective is to serve the diverse community of BIC in ways that will facilitate diversity and celebrate unity.
Copyright © 2003 Warren Reeve & Keith Webb