Teaching in 3D: Incorporating Discipleship, Worldview, and a Gospel Heart into your Classroom.

Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.

Deuteronomy 6:7 (NLT)

Are you a guacamole fan? For some people, the thought of a bowl of slightly mushy green “Mexican” stuff is enough to make them queasy…but for me, it puts a certain bounce in my step and gets my tastebuds watering! I love me some delicious guacamole, and especially if its freshly made (mine is quite good, if I do say so myself) and comes with some quality tortilla chips. But make no mistake—the chips are only a delivery mechanism for me. I use them to get to the guac.

I use this analogy with my parents and students at Noble U. The subjects I teach are important in and of themselves—U.S. History, World History, Civics, and Christian Ethics—but to me they are more like the tortilla chips. Discipleship, developing a biblical worldview, and cultivating a Gospel heart is what I’m after the most. For me, as a teacher and a father, that’s the guacamole.

Get it? Good.

Most of my students are not Star Trek fans, and I’m a huge Star Wars fan myself (the better choice), but I’ve always been intrigued by Dr. Spock’s 3D Chessboard. Rarely can anyone beat him at his own game. That’s another analogy I use when talking to both students and parents about my Noble U classes—like Dr. Spock, I’m playing on multiple levels in the classroom.

  • Teaching the subject itself.
  • Discipling my students wherever they are in their faith journey.
  • Building a biblical worldview by utilizing the course material.
  • Cultivating a Gospel Heart in the way they react to various things in class.

Technically, I guess I’m playing on a 4D chessboard, but that’s too abstract, I think. Far too often we settle for a purely academic approach to “regular” subjects and reserve our “bible teaching” for apologetics, theology, creationism, and devotional time. In doing so, we miss the entire point of the bible passage I referenced at the top of this article. 

If a biblical worldview isn’t comprehensive…meaning, if it doesn’t speak into every nook and cranny of life…then what good is it? This is one of the things I love the most about developing a biblical worldview—it is REALLY BENEFICIAL. A well-developed biblical worldview is like the perfect set of glasses for someone who needs corrective lenses. Once you put them on, you can see clearly. At first, you may even think you can see better than everyone else! 

“Surely this level of clarity isn’t normal, is it?” 

Yes, it is. Congratulations! You have been given the Secret Decoder Ring and now you can see reality. You can see The Truth.

“For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of truth listens to my voice.” John 18:37b

This is what I want all my students to see and understand. I want them to understand that biblical Christianity is the key to understanding the Truth (discipleship), and once you get a handle on it, you will be able to apply it to every area of your life (biblical worldview) where it will make an enormous difference. However, you need to remember that it is also a two-edged sword that cuts deep (Heb. 4:2) and you must wield it with great wisdom, compassion, and boldness (what I call a Gospel Heart).

So, how do you do all of that in your classroom? You can’t! You need me for that! JUST KIDDING! (but you should definitely consider my Noble u classes because I’m really good at doing this ).

The Quick “How To”

When it comes to DISCIPLESHIP, you must meet them where they are at. Is it milk? Mashed potatoes? Chicken nuggets? Steak? Don’t assume just because your son or daughter has made a profession of faith and got baptized that they are a Spirit-filled Christian. About 68% of our fellow Americans self-identify as Christian. Do you really think 68% of American adults are born again? Of course not. Just ask them why they think they are a Christian and you will see how shallow that ID actually is. But back to your child/student.

Good discipleship requires good conversation. You must be asking questions and listening way more than you teach/preach/pontificate. This was my biggest shortcoming as a dad.

I thought my awesome communication skills would carry the day. I was wrong. I should have been a better listener because that would have revealed where our kids were at in the faith journey rather than me assuming to know where they were at (which also included my pride). Sound familiar? I hope not. 

Listen to your students well and you will get to know where they are at. What biblical truths are they struggling with or simply don’t understand? What is their view of hot cultural topics and are they applying biblical truth at all? They may have memorized lots of Scripture through AWANA or Royal Rangers, but do they know what it actually means and how to apply it? Be on the lookout for where your course material provides an off-ramp into a biblical topic…and take the time to pull over! Ask questions! Listen! Then…correct and/or teach…but do so gently and with great patience…and always be sure to encourage them in the process.

When it comes to developing a BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW, that will be tailored to the subject matter you are teaching. Some subjects are easier than others like the ones I teach, but in general, any subject where mankind is at the center of the story. Science, grammar, spelling, geography, and even music can be more challenging, but within them all you still find truth claims and stories about people…sometimes it can be as simple as the new word your 4th grader just learned. Is that word an off-ramp? Is that word a “tortilla chip”? 

Developing a biblical worldview is about proper interpretation of information so I usually ask my students, “What do you think God thinks about that? How would He interpret what they did in this scenario? Was that good? Bad? A nice try? Is it lovely? Amazing? Heartbreaking? Disgusting? Why?” The four subjects I teach are pregnant with these kinds of opportunities…which is why I chose to teach them. They are also important for cultural engagement in 21st century America. 

Finally, and this is perhaps the biggest surprise to my students in the classroom because I tend to get emotional about it, as teachers we must always be working on developing a GOSPEL HEART within our students.

There is a big difference between properly understanding the facts and implications of each subject matter and how you should look at the people it includes or impacts.

This aspect of Teaching in 3D is always about people. Christians need to be wise as serpents…which has gotten a lot harder for our kids in the digital age…but also gentle as doves (Mt. 10:16). How can you speak unadulterated truth into our culture while remaining winsome? It seems impossible, I know, but just think about Jesus and the woman at the well. That’s the bar whether we like it or not.

In class the Lord often reminds me that we need to weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn…but also to rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15).

How we REACT to what we are learning (and teaching) can be just as important as what we are learning…and sometimes, even more so. This is what I’m after in trying to cultivate a Gospel Heart in my students.

In short (unlike this blog post), make sure you are being INTENTIONAL about looking for opportunities to DISCIPLE your student via the subject matter…and how to use it to develop a BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW alongside their learning of the course material…and finally, be sure to include a GOSPEL HEART REACTION to the aspects of the course that require one from us as Christ Followers. For me, this has taken teaching from merely black & white to something more like James Cameron’s 3D Avatar movie… deeply immersive and satisfying. I hope it does the same for you (even if you have never seen the movie!).

God’s Blessings…and Ever Forward!