Saturday, March 13, 2010

Another word on dialogical preaching

My postings on Doug Pagitt stirred much interest. As the Grace Community church continues to work through implications of his visit, many others have made contact.

My colleague, David Fitch, told me about Bob Hyatt who has practiced dialogical preaching in a different way in his church - Evergreen Community. His interview on Preaching Today Website commends dialogical preaching. He reckons recent dissatifaction with more traditional preaching owes much to congregations' higher levels of education, and the way current culture encourages greater interaction in communication. Questioned whether there are examples of dialogical preaching in the New Testament and church history he says "yes." Jesus engaged in dialogue as his teaching interacted with listeners, and Acts 17, 20 and 24 describe others sharing in speaking. Of course, 1 Cor. 14 does not support the idea of one person speaking either! Interestingly, he also sees evidence in church history among some early fathers, and notes that preachers such as Chrysostom were frequently interupted while preaching. He claims that only for the last 500 years in Christian history has preaching been mostly monologue.

You need to read his interview in full. I found the most interesting part describes the practical details of his typical dialogical sermon. Beginning the Monday before Sunday he posts the Scripture for the next Sunday in an on-line forum, inviting responses. Meanwhile he operates in the traditional homiletic. He still writes a manuscript of the sermon. "I know exactly what I'm going to to say during the worship gathering, but I've also chosen certain places to ask open-ended questions. I'm still going to share the things I feel God is saying to our comunity through the passage, but I also want to involve other people....if no one has spent time in prayer and preparation, that's not good stewardship of the teaching gifts of the church.

The "sermon time" on Sunday has three parts. First, he opens discussion of the passage with a series of questions that reflect the question the text will ultimately answer, and then leads into a verse-by-verse review of the text.

Second, he "leans" more on the audience. Sometimes there is a key issue in the text that he will leave entirely open to the community: " 'What do you think?' I am almost never disappointed - it's a unique opportunity for those who have studied the passage through the week to say, 'I thought about that, and here's what I've concluded in my study.' "

Third, he "gets on his horse and goes." He uses the final part to lay out the texts' implications for people to see. "Hopefully other people have already contributed to that sense of what the text is saying to us as a community, but it's my goal as the teaching pastor to frame the implications and challenge us as a community."

"There's still a critical role for the preacher and proclamation as we've known it; I just want the whole community to be involved in that procalamtion by speaking to one another, giving good examples of things, answering questions, and even bringing up points that I didn't think of in my time in the Word."

Bob Hyatt's practice helps answer some of my earlier concerns about the prophetic voice of proclamation. As I say above, his whole interview deserves attention.


Michael Kooy said...

Thanks for pointing us to Bob Hyatt's interview. He thinks Biblically and historically into dialogical preaching and has come out with a model that honors both the giftedness of God's people and his role as preacher in the community. I would love to hear from him how this shift in preaching has changed the lives of those who participate in the community.

Brian Maag said...

Do you happen to have a link to the interview?