All teaching is relational. In the ancient Jewish world, Rabbis developed father-son relationships with disciples so that they wouldn’t merely learn information, but would become like the rabbi. Jesus said, “It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher” (Matthew 10:25), and, “Everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). The old master-apprentice system of learning a trade developed a relationship in which characteristics of the master’s style would be apparent in the apprentice’s work, establishing traditions of craftsmanship identifiable for generations.
Better Bible teachers understand the importance of developing these relationships and seek to create correspondences with their students. If preaching is “truth through personality” (Phillips Brooks, Lyman Beecher Lectures in Preaching at Yale, c.1875), teaching is too. There is only a little difference between preaching and teaching. Just as a preacher cannot hope to succeed in the pulpit without developing relationships with members of the church and people in the community, so a Bible teacher, no matter the forum, cannot hope to succeed without developing these relationships. Allow me to offer a few suggestions.
Those who teach over the Internet (Blog, email, etc.), etc. ought to go farther than just sending and grading lessons. I remember my dad’s involvement in World Bible School when I was a child. I felt we knew his students who lived across the world, because he corresponded with them in letters, not just imparting Bible information, but also developing personal connections. We talked about them at the dinner table. Bloggers ought to allow questions and comments, and deal with them kindly (even disagreements). If your ministry is to teach one on one, spend time talking about life, work, and family. Let your students get to know you, and get to know them so they can see how you live the truth out in daily life. Bible class teachers are shepherds to their little flocks. Bible class teachers ought to write notes, send cards to their students, or at least be available for discussion outside class time. Over time you’ll see a little of yourself in those you’ve taught. Hopefully that part of you, you see in them will not just be you, but the One who lives in you (see Galatians 4:19).