Five Things With a Young Pastor
This month we continue our series of articles entitled “Five Things.” Each month, we interview a practitioner of Christian adult education to learn about their educational philosophy, books they’ve read, advice they’d give to other educators, and their perspectives on teaching the Word. This month features Pastor Nathan Wordell, who serves Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Pastor Nathan Wordell, a 2016 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, has served Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Appleton, Wisconsin since 2018. Prior to that, he served for two years at Martin Luther College teaching religion.

They never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah. Acts 5:42
Adult Education: Additum
In Defense of Lecture

Pastor Wordell’s words about his associates and their stirring lectures give us a good opportunity to revisit how and why lecture is still effective—even in the age of short attention spans and visual media. In the November 2019 edition of "Teach the Word," Tom Kock reminded us of some of the benefits of lecture. He highlighted areas where lecture can be most useful:

  • To convey information to people who know nothing (or very little) about the material that will be covered. 
  • To cover lots of material. 
  • To touch the emotions of the learners. 

Professor Kock also shared a few tips for instructors to remember as we lecture. 

  • Encourage learner activity even while lecturing. Do so by sprinkling some rhetorical questions throughout the lecture. 
  • Realize that silence is your friend. If you want to get everyone’s attention back to you, simply stop talking for 5-10 seconds.
  • Tap into your “inner actor.” Within the boundaries of your personality, make full use of voice intonation, facial expressions, body language, etc., in ways that are consistent with the words. 
  • Less may be more. (Lecture) can be very short, just one or two sentences.

The full text of Prof. Kock’s article can be found here.
Teaching Toolbox

It takes a little imagination to envision an adult Bible study without pastor and learners in the same real (or virtual!) room at the same time, even in the COVID era. is a tech tool that enabled Pastor Wordell to do just that—to make Bible studies interactive and asynchronous. Here’s how it works. You prepare your slides on the Genially website with a provided template or with slides you’ve uploaded. (It could even be just a simple jpeg or png image.) You then use Genially to add “buttons” that are clickable links to videos, images, audio recordings or pop-up boxes with more text information. When finished preparing the slides, you email a link that will take learners to the presentation on the Genially site where they can work through each slide at their own pace. Here’s a link for more information on Genially from professional educators/authors Joe and Kristin Merrill.

Curriculum Connection

In the lead article, Pastor Wordell mentions that one of his most interesting Bible studies over the last few years is an interactive online course he wrote entitled "Civil Government." He then remarks that the course is meant to be used with Prof. Daniel Deutschlander's book from the People's Bible Teachings series, Civil Government: God's Other Kingdom.

During his days in the parish, Professor Kock wrote a study of Deutschlander's popular book. In the election year of 2020, NPH adapted Kock's study and released this small group study. Intended for small groups and flexible enough for in-person or online study, it examines each chapter of the book. Brief questions at the end of each of the nine lessons encourage deep and fascinating group discussions about God's blessings of church and state and the dangers of failing to keep them separate.

Teaching Tip
"Whoever gives the time gets the heart."

What does that mean for our teaching? It means that we must live with our people. If our contact with the families in our congregations is only in the sanctuary, fellowship hall, or classroom, then we have diminished our ability to teach them. "Whoever gives the time gets the heart." So here are some suggestions for living with your people. Go to some of the games the children of your congregation play at the local soccer fields on Saturday. Comment on their performance. Praise only, please. Be sad with them when they lose. Jump up and down and hug them when they win. Other thoughts: bring cookies to school for other staff members. Play golf and go fishing even if it is not your thing. Visit your members at their work for lunch. Phone them on their birthdays. Stop by their homes for no reason at all. 

Pastor Donald W. Patterson
Teaching Like Jesus
WLS Symposium, 2005
 Teach the Word is a collaboration of Northwestern Publishing House,
Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, and WELS Discipleship.