It's a question I get asked a lot. Those who love me, those who have been praying for me want to know ... But how do you assess whether the talk you've given (or the Bible study you've led) was "good" or not? Is it all about people having enjoyed themselves? Or about having learned something new? What criteria can we use to assess? Should we worry about negative reactions? It's a bit of a minefield. But here are the criteria I've started to use. Feel free to add to the list if you want...
Was it faithful?
It probably goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, good teaching is faithful teaching. Most of us are able to avoid the rank heresy of denying Christ crucified but being faithful in the little things is important too ... Have we really taught what the Bible says rather than what we want it to say? Paul had his priorities right: "I do not consider my life worth anything to myself, so that I may finish my task and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God's grace" (Acts 20:24). Can we say the same?
Was it clear?
There's little point in giving a biblically accurate talk or study that people don't understand. I've sat through a few ... they don't help. Did we use a structure that was helpful? Were the tough words explained? Did the illustrations support the points rather than cloud them? Did we show people the links between our words and the Bible's words? God has made his mystery known (Ephesians 1:3) so we must do our best not to make the gospel sound as if it is still profoundly mysterious.
Was it relevant?
If there's one thing that drives growing Christians nuts, it's talks that inform but don't inspire. Of course, people who aren't interested in growing, love talks that merely inform but our goal is not to please them ...! Have we applied the passage? And have we applied it specifically? So many talks suffer from generalised applications that don't touch down in places where real people are struggling - have we actually given people practical steps to help them become more like Jesus in the mess of the world around? It's good to ask a selection of people that question over coffee.
Was it loving?
Paul was motivated by the love of God. In fact he said, "Christ's love compels us" (2 Corinthians 5:14). When we teach are we doing it out of love? Do we yearn for people to be more aware of God's love and call to love each other? Do we desire to go beyond mere teaching and to stand alongside those we teach as they put biblical truth into action?
If we can answer, "yes" to those four questions - I reckon we can say the teaching went well . And if we have to say, "no" - well, we know what to ask people to pray next time ...