Preaching vs. teaching

Bible proves to be ‘deep book’


Brianna Rich

Jeffrey Nagell first learned that he liked to teach others about the Bible when he was just in high school. When SCCC was looking for a New Testament teacher, he went straight to Darin Workman to talk to him about the job.

Students’ chatter fill the classroom. Their teacher commences his lecture and all goes quiet. They listen as he enlightens them about the history of the Bible and Jesus’s ministry. In this class jokes are cracked and questions are asked. 

“Philosophy began with Socrates asking questions and apparently asking questions is just as dangerous as making statements because they poisoned him,” says Jeffrey Nagell, New Testament teacher at Seward County Community College and preacher at the Friends church in Liberal. 

Before class Jeffrey Nagell likes to talk with his students and ask how they are doing. He connects with his students by making jokes and laughing with them. (Brianna Rich)

Nagell says that although some may consider the Bible to be literature, he’s completely fine with the New Testament being a philosophy class because, “When you really get into it, the Bible is quite a deep book.” 

A deep book that is used in both church and class. So what’s the difference between Nagell’s preaching and teaching? 

“He’s been my pastor for over 40 years…When he preaches it’s more directing you to analyze yourself whereas in teaching he’s imparting straight information,” says Mary Nagell.“His teaching goes more in depth about the history. He really enjoys it and I’m glad he’s doing it.”

Nagell goes on to say that there is a time and a place for opinions, but in teaching he has the book to back up almost everything he says.

“In my preaching I can give my opinions pretty freely and in this class I make sure I have the Bible backing up everything I say because I’m teaching the New Testament. You realize when you come into this class you are going to be taught the New Testament and I try to make sure that what I say is in the New Testament. My particular denomination has certain theological views and I try to keep those out of this class and just talk about what the Bible actually says. I do have fun with our textbook writer but other than that it’s from the Bible,” says Nagell.

Seward County Community College’s New Testament class is Jeffrey Nagell. When he is not a teacher, he is a preacher at Friends church here in Liberal. (Brianna Rich)

He then explains that he just wants to hear what other people think and how they perceive the Bible. In class this can lead to both discouragement and enlightenment.

“People that feel like they already know the Bible and don’t need to read it for themselves is kind of the most discouraging thing about the class…The ones that actually don’t like the Bible is sometimes more fun to talk to because they have strong opinions about what the Bible says and we can discuss those things.” 

Hannah Parker, a student attending his class, says there is both a positive and negative about the class.

“I’ve grown up Christian pretty much my whole life but I’ve never really understood the Bible so I love it when people break it down for me,” says Hannah Parker, “The only negative thing I would say is that sometimes I don’t understand what they’re saying, like in different versions of the Bible it doesn’t match up the same so I get really confused but besides that it’s pretty good.”

Preaching is one thing, but teaching half a day? Why do it? What’s the point?

“I teach because I have had the benefit of many years of education. I graduated from a state school, I went to seminary to get my Master’s degree and just kind of almost accidentally took some classes at Florida theological seminary, Nagell explains. “They said, do you want doctoral credit? I said if you’re giving doctoral credit, sure I’ll take it. Then I realized there were a lot of classes that went along with that doctorate…I figured God gave me a good doctoral degree, I should use it and here we are.”