Friday, February 26, 2010

Reflections on dialog

I look forward to debriefing with the churches' worship renewal group in a few days time. So many thoughts have gone through my mind. Where should I begin? Actually my first reaction was that we had experienced a lively, interactive bible study together. In fact, a couple of people said it seemed like a well-organized bible study helped by preparation the previous day.

So, if it seemed like a bible study - how different is that from preaching? Frankly, much speaching can seem like one person doing a bible study anyway! Is there any significant difference between bible study and preaching?

Perhaps it's wise to ask first what constitutes biblical preaching. When I wrote 360degree preaching I began by asking myself what preaching's main characteristics are. I ended up with four. (You may disagree with the ones I chose but they at least give some criteria).

PROPHETIC - means the "today-ness" of divine reality when Christian preachers respond to Scripture rather like Old Testament prophets did when they heard the word of the Lord and said: "Listen to the word of the Lord." Of course for contemporary preachers this means high responsibility for declaring God's revelation given in Christ and in the Scriptures. Preachers are therefore God's sent-persons whose sense of "call" involves total commitment to preach. Paul's apostleship was tested and authenticated through changed lives of his hearers (2 Cor 3:1-3). I understand preaching therefore involves a God empowered spiritual event.

TRANSFORMATIONAL - Read the New Testament and you see amazement or antagonism are outcomes of preaching. Never neutrality! Individuals are transformed as in Acts 2:37,41. But long-term effects are also seen in the building of communities. 1 Cor 14:3 see three outcomes: building up, encouragement and consolation. God uses preaching to change lives and form communities.

INCARNATIONAL - Preachers are themselves important because through their own words, experiences and flesh good news is told. Preachers must therefore stand under Scripture and the Lordsip of Christ and also in the contemporary world to embody God's Word in their words and persons.

DIVERSE - nearly 33 Greek words in the New Testament can be translated preaching. They include heralding, evangelising, teaching, arguing. Dialog (Acts 17:17; 18;4; 19:8; 20:9; 24:25) can mean converse and discuss with others. These express a rich variety of preaching practices and warn about making generalizations about what is right or not.

Doug's Progressional Implicatory Dialog immediately connects with the last point, doesn't it? Just because it is so different from our normal experience we must be very careful not to reject on those grounds. Increasingly preachers are using dialog in different ways to involve more worshipers in listening and interpreting God's word. One of the strongest aspects of Doug's visit was the fresh experience of working and listening together. It was wonderful.

But what about the other three descriptions of preaching? How did Progressional Implicatory Dialog relate to the prophetic, transformational and incarnational aspects of preaching? I'm still working on this. Any other insights?

1 comment:

dss said...

I appreciate your willingness to be open to where the Spirit leads. This experience sounds exhilarating and it appears to have inspired your thoughts. I think this process would build community also.

Is it preaching? I just don’t know. I do like the idea that young and old, men and women have an opportunity to share corporately what the Lord has said to them concerning the passages being studied. Nonetheless, I hesitate because I believe studying the Word of God individually should come before sharing corporately. We are less apt to speak in error. Preachers who enjoy God’s call, and presumably spiritual insight and training, would be more prepared to share with the body what the Spirit is saying to the church.

Still, I would like to see this process personally, but I am not sure I would want to replace Sunday morning services with it. What about Sunday evenings? I believe that I would miss sermons, deeply, but I can see benefits to this new format.

I can only imagine that once initiated into this possibility, that I would not want to give it up either. I believe that any study of God’s Word with fellow believers which includes prayer to our Great God encourages worship and unites the body of Christ. It would encourage a longing for God and heaven I think. The things you have written show that reaction to me. Also, the body would be more engaged and pride might be less likely as the body works together in the process.

Very interesting. Where is this leading the churches that hosted this event?