The Value of Collaboration & Team Teaching

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PBL2013-classHave you ever co-taught with someone? Five years ago the Spiritual Growth Workshop director asked Donny Dillon, Eric Brown and me to teach a class on outreach to young adults. It was one of my first big tastes of collaboration and I really enjoyed it. Beyond just being an enjoyable experience, I grew a lot from that experience. Since that presentation I have been blessed to use that format on several occasions (like this picture from presenting on reaching and discipling young adults at the Pepperdine Lectures with Charles Kiser & Eric Brown last May) and each time it reminds me of the value of collaboration and sharing multiple perspectives.

When preparation and presentation are done in community it makes things a lot higher quality. You are able to filter out the things that don’t need to be in there and sharpen each other’s thoughts by running it by people with a wider variety of experiences than just one person before it is ever presented. When it is presented, each person sparks thoughts from the other that just happen naturally that wouldn’t take place otherwise. There is great value in hearing a few people who have experience in something publicly talk shop together about a relevant issue.

The reality is, most of our teaching isn’t done in lectureships. It is done on the local/congregational level. With co-teaching and collaborative preparation having the potential to be so effective it makes me wonder why we tend to only use this model when teaching children and rarely use it in adult education. There are mediums of teaching that are highly effective but often avoided often either due to tradition or just lack of considering alternative possibilities. I could see using this approach in a Sunday school education program. It would give teachers a little less prep time as they share the teaching responsibility and improve the quality of teaching as they are able to give each other feedback on past lessons and dialog with each other each week at different points in the lesson.

Last, have you ever thought about how collaborative the work and ministry was in the New Testament? There were a few lone rangers but you don’t run across them very often. I think there is a reason for that. There is power in collaboration in ministry. It makes me wonder even more why we don’t do more team ministry and collaboration in the church. At Northwest we have gone more toward pairs of deacons than stand alone deacons over various areas. When you do that the quality of the work goes up as accountability and support increases and the work load is able to be spread across more people.

Have any of you co-taught or use collaboration in sermon or class preparation? If so, I would love to hear about your experience.

2 Responses

  1. Matt Soper and I did a series on Post-Modernism as a team. We took turns presenting the first 25 minutes each week then had a dialog with each of us presenting scripture from the differing views with a more dialogue type arrangement. It was fun and was well received.
    Some people struggle with not being in control the whole time. Others wanted a black and white statement instead of the tension between opposing views. We came down firmly that our biblical worldview is neither modern or post-modern.

    1. Wish I could have heard that. Sounds fascinating. I think your critique of some not wanting to let go of control is valid in some cases.

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