the weblog of Alan Knox

On the Sermon

Posted by on Jan 26, 2009 in blog links, discipleship, gathering | 43 comments

On the Sermon

I’ve enjoyed reading some of the blog posts from Michael at “Love Broke Thru“. Here is one snippet from his post called “How We Do Church: To Preach or Not to Preach?“:

The modern rhetorical sermon is at once both effective and ineffective. It is effective in that it usually does what it is intended to do quite well. It is intended to be a convincing and commanding argument that persuades its listener to certain actions or convinces its listener of certain truths. In the hands of a skillful and powerful orator, the rhetorical sermon is very effective at accomplishing its mission. It is ineffective in that it does little to foster spiritual maturity a deeper grasp of Scripture in its listeners.

Instead of the rhetorical sermon, Michael suggests discussion as a means of teaching and discipleship during the church meeting (see his post “How We Do Church: Discussion, the Fast Track to Ministry“).

So, what do you think? Which is more effective in helping people grow toward maturity in Christ: monologue, dialogue, a combination, something else?

(HT: Dave Black)


43 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 1-26-2009

    Alan,

    In the early part of my flying career I was a flight instructor. Flight instruction includes a lot of ground instruction. Whether it was one on one or I was teaching a class, there was always dialogue and discussion.

    I am not a fan of sermons. I have heard thousands of sermons in my life. I can’t remember a single one of them. I have been challenged at times, but it has been in discussions and then digging in the Word myself that life changes occur. I am not sure that sermons are even biblical. They do not promote growth in the believers.

    Teaching has to always have discussion. It challenges the student/disciple to think and meditate.

    Blessings,

    Jack

  2. 1-26-2009

    Alan,

    I have enjoyed reading Michael’s article for some time. Like your own articles,they are a breath of fresh air. Each of his series on “How We Do Church:” are worth reading, but the one Dave mentions, is spot on.

    Those who have a vested interest in the “preaching industry” will not agree for very obvious reasons.

    There can be no doubt that dialogue, with the occasional concise monologue (sermon), accompanied by real life demonstration, is more effective than what tradition dictates.

  3. 1-26-2009

    Alan,

    I just started a series of excerpts from the book To Preach or Not to Preach that you might find interesting. The first one is here:
    http://anebooks.blogspot.com/2009/01/sermon.html

    James

  4. 1-26-2009

    Jack,

    “Teaching has to have discussion.” I agree, especially if we are teaching toward life transformation and not simply teaching to educate or transfer information.

    Aussie John,

    “There can be no doubt that dialogue, with the occasional concise monologue (sermon), accompanied by real life demonstration, is more effective than what tradition dictates.” Yes. I would also see the benefit of the occasional monologue, especially with the ability to discuss later. But, I also agree that these monologues should be occasional and concise, not the norm.

    James,

    Thanks for the link! I’m looking forward to reading the quotes and your thoughts.

    -Alan

  5. 1-26-2009

    Both monologue and dialogue have a place in the life of the church, its seen clearly in Scripture and throughout church history.

    To abandon sermons, in the traditional sense of the word, is to depart from the way God has chosen to speak throughout human history.

    Moses, the prophets, the priests in Neh. 8, Jesus himself, Peter, Paul all used sermons. “Monological” sermons. (Its absurd that I even need to qualify sermons as “monological.”)

    And if Jack can’t tell whether or not sermons are biblical, then I’d say for all the discussion he’s had, he hasn’t understood the Bible very well at all. But maybe he’s just listened to bad preachers in all those sermons he’s forgotten.

  6. 1-26-2009

    I am not a fan of discussions. I find they easily get sidetracked or dominated by extraverts. I find people present half-baked ideas they have not fully thought through or researched.

    I can remember a significant number of sermons that have impacted by life. I find many of the preachers I have heard are able, through study and revelation, to present old truths with a fresh perspective.

  7. 1-26-2009

    Alan,
    I take a BOTH/AND approach and integrating the two methods as much as possible.

  8. 1-26-2009

    Brent,

    Can you show me two monologue “sermons” within the context of the local body (monolithic preaching does have its place but in the local body is question)? Where exactly does Paul present a monlogue? Thanks in advance.

  9. 1-26-2009

    Susan,

    You said “they easily get sidetracked”. Can you share with us your experience with the dialouge type teaching method as the main point of teaching in the local church? I have done it 3 times and have never experienced the “sidetracked” thingy you speak of. So let me know your experience just in case I experience and how did the one teaching that day handle it?

  10. 1-26-2009

    Joe,

    What is funny is that our local fellowship http://www.lifelinebible.org is set up exactly that way. We only have round tables and sometimes there is about a time where we share some verses before hand for about 30 minutes then there is a 15 minute exposition or so and then discussion. The other times there is direct interruption where people can interact. Other times the congregation is intergrated into the teaching (I did this on Leadership where I would have poster boards and I let them wrestle with the context and I gave my point and they added to it).

    I have never in anytime experienced people getting sidetracked and it was rougly 80-100 people when I taught that way. It made for an unbelievable gathering as I was taught while I was teaching and I didn’t have to practice on my homily I let the scriptures do the work.

  11. 1-26-2009

    I have led small groups for many years. Usually, we study the Bible, which means we use the Bible as our primary resource, not a book about the Bible.

    We have used various methods, and find that people best remember the things we discussed, especially when they were involved in the discussion. They tend to remember what they said first of all, then how that tied in to the general discussion.

    Discussions can get easily get sidetracked or dominated by extroverts, but a skillful leader can and should be able to prevent this from happening in most cases. Sometimes I say almost nothing for ten or fifteen minutes, but I do break in when necessary, especially if the discussion is getting sidetracked or someone is dominating.

    Occasional concise monologue has its place, but usually fades from most people’s memories rather quickly unless accompanied by real life demonstration. Example: My dad was somewhat of a “country philosopher”. I remember many of his sayings because he lived them. Usually, he used his sayings to comment on what he was doing, and now I remember what he did and what he said. They illustrated each other.

  12. 1-26-2009

    Alan,
    You have commented elsewhere about the importance of learning through relationships. I think this is probably the more pressing issue than the mode of teaching. Several around me at work feel that churches are missing discipleship by believing that 30 minutes of teaching on Sunday equates with discipleship. There is no substitute for learning by imitation from someone who is more mature in the faith.
    That said, I have been blessed by the discussion at the end of the teaching on Sundays.

  13. 1-26-2009

    My context is perhaps much smaller than what you are talking about. However I don’t understand how you can have a discussion with 80-100 people. There must be a lot of people who don’t say anything so how can it be a true discussion? (I would be one of the people not saying anything and feeling frustrated!)

    Sometimes when I have been in these types of forum (though much smaller) someone will say, “Oh, I know what you mean” and then proceed to tell a long winded story which, although maybe interesting, effectively gets the discussion off the point. Then the leader will either have a hard time getting people back on the point (because they have forgotten what it was) or the leader will think this ‘red herring’ is more important that the original discussion and just go with it.

    I find people in discussions are often not good listeners and are more interested in pushing their own agendas than really wrestling with Biblical texts.

    Discussions can be effective in the right context. I just don’t happen to think that they can take the place of a sermon.

  14. 1-26-2009

    Brent,

    I agree that there may be a place for both monologue and dialog. However, I find dialog and discussion sorely missing in the church today. By the way, where do you clearly see a sermon in the church in Scripture (at least clear enough to quesion Jack’s understanding of Scripture)?

    Susan,

    Neither side-tracked discussions nor side-tracked monologue sermons are a good thing. I’ve found that people with half-baked ideas – when confronted and helped with gentleness and acceptance – learn to think through their ideas before presenting them. But, this has to be a consistent practice for people to learn how to discuss together.

    Joe (JR),

    I think both monologue and dialog can be good. I do agree with the author of this post that dialog and discussion seem to encourage growth and maturity more than listening to a monologue.

    Lionel,

    “I was taught while I was teaching”. I’ve found this to be true as well.

    Sam,

    You bring up a good point. Mature believers will help others by guiding the discussions. Its not easy, sometimes messy, but I believe its very good for the church.

    Paul,

    Thanks for the comment. I didn’t know that you read my blog. I certainly agree that relationship is important for any type of teaching. I think relationship is especially important in discussion.

    -Alan

  15. 1-26-2009

    Alan,

    Thanks for posting the links to my blog posts. It’s much appreciated. It looks like it’s generating some good discussion.

    Take Care,

    Mike

  16. 1-26-2009

    Hmmm, I think that the monologue type sermon definitely serves it’s purpose, same as lectures serve their purpose in study halls and classrooms across the land. But in all honesty, I’m sure that Paul encountered dialogue when he “sermonized,” and if we count the epistles as sermons, I think we have missed their points entirely.

    Susan,

    You say that people will throw out red herrings, this is definitely a risk, and most likely a 99% probability in any size gathering. When reading your responses, I thought about Jesus being interrupted with what seemed to be a distraction from His teaching in Luke 13:1-5, how He simply took the deflection amidst His teaching and brought back to the point, or when the Jews tried to stop Him up by asking about the baptism of John in Matthew 21:23-27.

    I think it’s not the red herrings we need to worry about, it’s the gifting of the teachers to teach we need to focus on. Lecturing is not teaching…it’s lecturing.

  17. 1-26-2009

    As iron sharpens iron, man sharpens man.

    Discussion among well meaning believers, moderated by someone who has planned a direction and has some useful background information or some wise interpretation is how I prefer to do church.

    Sitting among a thousand people is not fellowship, which is what we are commanded to do in meeting together (Hebrews 10:25).

  18. 1-26-2009

    Alan,

    I as well think that both monologue and discussion have their place.

    But, I feel that when a discussion goes on about any given text, that a more well rounded teaching happens.

    Based on my experience as a teacher, I believe there is more than one kind of teaching gift. Also, different people are going to bring out different things about the text and you end up with more than if just one person is doing the speaking.

    I have seen times when someone will try and run away with the discussion. But, as someone has already stated, a good teacher can bring the conversation back to the main point of the text.

    Also I feel that discussions usually go much deeper than monologued sermons do.

    Gary

  19. 1-26-2009

    Mike,

    Thank you for a very thought provoking (and discussion provoking) post!

    Faithful Servant,

    I like the combined approach as well – recognizing the benefits and weaknesses of each. Both monologue and dialog can aid in teaching, but we should not consider either to be teaching.

    Jim,

    I think you’re right. It takes more maturity and patience and gentleness to teach through discussion than through monologue.

    Gary,

    Yes, with discussion the learning is often more “rounded”, because we can hear different perspectives. This is not the same as “what does it mean to me”, but recognizing that each person is in a different situation of life. Therefore, the text and teaching of Scripture intersects our lives differently. Someone may benefit from hearing how the implications of the text on your life, but they many not benefit from hearing the implications of the text on my life. And, this benefit has very little to do with how good we are at teaching. (I know that most of this has nothing to do with what you said, but its what I started thinking about when I was replying to your comment.)

    -Alan

  20. 1-27-2009

    Being actually in one anothers’ lives, talking and pointing out truths all through the day and when necessary saying something more, when the Holy Spirit leads.

  21. 1-27-2009

    It’s good to see an issue like this has aroused the level of conversation that it has because to me it highlights what’s the point of church.

    I’ve been brought up on the concept that no service is complete without the monologue. As has already been mentioned by someone else, those monologues are not always memorable, unless I’m taking notes and they particularly hit an issue pertinent to my walk with Christ at the moment. I have had outstanding experiences of conversations in groups that led to transformation.

    My position at the moment isn’t fixed on this issue and what I was wanting to know is if you realised that there’s a similar themed conversation taking place among those in 9 Marks circles (Mark Dever, Greg Gilbert, fellows of that ilk) especially looking at the approach by Tim Chester and the Total Church book. A book I highly recommend. I appreciate the biblical perspectives coming from those stating the monological case and as I believe Lionel Wodos … sorry Woods put it, this is not necessarily and either/or issue but a both/and one.

    Shalom
    dmcd

  22. 1-27-2009

    Acts 20:7-12 reads to me like Paul was preaching a sermon—a very long one at that!

    Sitting among a thousand people is not fellowship neither is it a discussion with that many people, even 80-100 is too many for a discussion.

    So some questions for those of you who have discussions in or after or instead of the sermon. How does this work, do you break into smaller groups? And who leads these groups?

    As I said before discussions are effective in the right context but if the group is too big most people don’t get heard.

  23. 1-27-2009

    Lanny,

    Yes! Absolutely!

    Christopher,

    Yes, I’m glad to see this amount of discussion about discussion as well.

    Susan,

    Interestingly, the word often translated “preached” in Acts 20:7-12 is a word that is usually translated “discussed” in other passages.

    -Alan

  24. 1-27-2009

    Brent,

    I have thought deeply on how to respond to your comments. First let me say, “Good preachers or bad preachers”, is not the issue. The Question you need to ask yourself is,”What is the best way for you to minister the Word of God to the saints?”

    Now let me define what I mean by sermon. The monologue delivered by paid professional “clergy” to “layman”, sitting in pews, across the world on Sunday mornings. If you feel that the Holy Spirit has directed you do minister the Word in this manner, I have no arguments, but do not use the scriptures to justify your use of the sermon.

    You will not find any examples of elders in the local bodies doing this in the scriptures. I would say you have a vested interest in sermons. It’s a tough place to be for a young man who’s livelyhood is sometimes determined by how good of sermon he preaches.

    Just so you know where I am coming from, I have been on this journey for over 36 years. What I have found, the older I get, the less I really know. If that doesn’t make sense, it will one day.

    Continue your journey. Be open to change. Let the Holy Spirit guide you, not your training. If you have to lay down some things you have been taught along the way, Praise God.

    I have had to change my paradigm over the years to remain faithful to God’s Word.

    Blessings,

    Jack Watkins

  25. 1-27-2009

    Susan,

    You asked:

    “So some questions for those of you who have discussions in or after or instead of the sermon. How does this work, do you break into smaller groups? And who leads these groups?”

    1. It works like I explained in my first commment to you. It depends on what is being taught and it actually depends on the leading of the Spirit. I know we like our structured programs and we like to fit what we do in a 5 meeting greeting, 25 minutes of “worship” music and 35-60 minutes of nice packed sermons. However, in my teaching time there are times where I had to go over and times where I fit it in.

    2. Do we split into smaller groups. Depends. When I taught on leadership each table (we meet around tables) had a poster board on it with some verses and some questions, there were about 11 tables with 8-10 people. A representaive was picked from each table to discuss the questions and scriptures, while others were free to interact with that table and I would sum up the point.

    3. I lead the group but one who is has the ability to teach can lead. Sometimes there are handouts on the table other times we just have our bibles. It really isn’t as difficult as you think and again I have never experienced the taking over yet. And if so that may not be too bad anyway, maybe God has given the gift of teaching to an individual and he/she has been ignored and is just the overflow of their giftedness that needs to be employed for the building up of the body of Christ.

    The problem is what happens when that number hits more than 100 and that is where my perspective on the best way for the church to meet comes into play. I think 100 is ceiling. I think 75 is optimal. When we get 100 plus then its time to send off another church if God has given us qualified leaders, but in our soceity of bigger is better I am one who would be ignored and the pragmatic “sermon is better” will set in.

  26. 1-27-2009

    As I have thought on this topic, I have asked myself
    “Where is the mandate for either monologue or dialogue?” Isn’t this a matter of Christian liberty? In the 1st century context there was teaching and preaching in a manner that was back and forth. The texts are clear on that and that was their pattern of life. Yet is this pattern mandated for the church throughout all time or are we free to choose the method? If a believer is growing through monologue, praise God. If a believer is maturing through dialogue, praise God.

    In my context, I serve what I would call “hard living people.” These are souls who have little or no church experience, abusive, mental illness, etc, etc. I have found that both monologue and dialogue to be beneficial.

    I look forward to feedback.

    Phillip

  27. 1-27-2009

    Jack Watkins,

    I, for one, greatly appreciate your wise and grace filled words. I have much to learn from brothers such as yourself. Thank you.

    -Jeff

  28. 1-27-2009

    Hi Alan,

    I find it strange that people would question the idea of preaching, as if to say it was useless or even unbiblical. Aren’t we commanded in scripture to “preach the Word”? (2 Timothy 4.2).

    I’ve always understood that the meaning here is one of making a proclamation; that we are to be heralds for Christ. When I think of a herald, I think of someone who declares a message. That implies a monologue, not a dialogue. Questions and discussions may follow, but first a message is declared. In fact, I remember reading Wuest’s greek translation many years ago concerning this subject, and here it is:

    “make a public proclamation of the Word with such formality, gravity, and authority as must be heeded…” 2 Timothy 4.2

    That sounds like preaching to me! As I continue in the passage, I can see how preaching would lead to discussion and further exhortation. I guess my point is, why throw the baby out with the bathwater? Preaching and discussion are both biblical, and both are needed in the church.

    I believe the present “anti preaching” bias that is present in so many who are questioning the traditional church structure is simply a reaction to not having been allowed any type of discussion in our gatherings. As is so often the case, the pendulum then swings to the far extreme and we end up having the opposite problem! I see the same thing happening regarding “leadership” in the church. Tired of feeling that they were oppressed by leaders, many leave the traditional churches and opt for a leaderless church. This type of reaction will never produce the right results; we simply exchange one lopsided form with another.

    It baffles me as well when I hear people say that they “can’t remember a single sermon they’ve ever heard.” Really? Is there so little impact from the preaching of God’s Word? God has many tools at his disposal, and one of the best is preaching. Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit I’ve been arrested by preaching throughout my entire life as a Christian! Preaching that came from a pulpit, a car radio, a book, a song, or a friend… I’ve been challenged and changed by preaching.

    For the record, I love discussion as well. I think it’s invaluable, but I’m not buying in to the anti preaching sentiment that seems so prevalent today.

  29. 1-27-2009

    Mike,

    Given the examples (narrative or otherwise) we have in scripture can you provide us with one example of a pure monologue in addressing the body of Christ? Given the fact that they met in homes (not a requirement today). Do you believe everyone sat on the couch and then someone stood in the middle (Paul, Titus, Timothy….. elders…) and everyone stood passively by listening? If so can you show how you deduce this from scripture or are you taking our current “preaching” and then reading it back into the text?

    So what I am asking given the New Testament scriptures and the formation of the church after pentecost where do you see this type of monolouge going on within the body. Especially in light of Ephesians 4, Colossians 3, Acts 20 and 1 Corinthians 14. Thanks.

    Phillip,

    I turn the same question to you. The only difference is the the maturation of the congregation. So if I am in a newly established church with recent converts (which I don’t think happens at all in America today, we are usually borrowing members from other churches to establish our own)then I think a monolouge would be appropriate; however in the case of maturing believers my job as a teacher/shepherd is to produce mature believers (Eph 4) who should be able to handle the words themselves.

    Finally I think the Christian Liberty thing could be a slippery slope. For example here are some areas that the bible never commands but we do or don’t do based off of narrative in scripture.

    1. Why do we immerse instead of sprinkle? Would you have a problem with someone who was sprinkled?

    2. Why not have chesseburgers and grape soda for the Lord’s Supper? There is nothing telling me what to eat just what they ate.

    3. Can I baptize women who like beauty products in milk? There is nothing telling me it has to be water?

    4. How about if we met once every month as a local church, there is nothing commanding me to meet more frequently I am just commanded to not to forsake.

    5. How about giving, what if every member gave to the Red Cross or to Big Brothers Big Sisters instead of their local congregation? Is there anything commanding Christians to give to their local church?

    You see the same folks who talk about Christian Liberty uses one hermeneutic in one place to set the standard and another in the same type of narrative and say that one is binding and the other isn’t. Or we use descriptions in Acts as prescriptions when it benefits us. Maybe this is something you can elaborate on Alan and maybe will be discussing in your “Biblical Ecclesiology” deal.

  30. 1-27-2009

    Lionel,
    You said to Mike the following, “So what I am asking given the New Testament scriptures and the formation of the church after pentecost where do you see this type of monolouge going on within the body. Especially in light of Ephesians 4, Colossians 3, Acts 20 and 1 Corinthians 14.”

    There is no way you can argue from these texts with the exception of Acts 20:7-11 that dialogue or monologue is prescribed.
    Secondly, can you produce from Scripture where they did not stand by and listen?

    You said,
    “The only difference is the maturation of the congregation. So if I am in a newly established church with recent converts (which I don’t think happens at all in America today, we are usually borrowing members from other churches to establish our own)” This is an overgeneralization and not my context.

    Thirdly, we could go on for eternity about your questions and it would remain a draw.

    My concern is that in this discussion on preaching and teaching it would appear that those who argue against “monologue” are making dialogue the standard and those who argue the other way are doing the same. If I missed it somewhere, I open to correction. Neither side, monologue nor dialogue, can make the definitive case 1) it is the standard or 2) is THE best for maturity. So why not both?

    Has not God gifted some men and women to speak in such away that is best suited for a monologue and others for dialogue?

    By the way, break me off a White Castle or In-n-Out cheeseburger with a Big Red! (LOL)

    Phillip

  31. 1-27-2009

    Phillip,

    Thats actually not true. Lets see what those scriptures say.

    1. In both Ephesians and Colossians the command is to “teach” one another. How is this accomplished if there is a monologue? This is in the context of the Churches that met in those areas. If that is the case then the singing the admonishment the encouraging is all one way also. Would you make that arguement Sir?

    2. In 1 Corinthians 14 it says “each of you” and tells the wives to asks questions at home. How many monologues have questions during the monologue or are you suggesting they preached a monologue and then asked questions after the “sermon”?

    3. Finally unless you don’t see the imperatives in Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3 as imperatives then I would agree that it is a matter of Christian liberty. The problem is it seems that when the church gathered they were commanded to do those things. I could be wrong again but given the context it just doesn’t seem that way to me. Within the context of the gathering mutual edification seems to be the goal of the gathering and no gift is to dominate that gathering. If that would be the case we need to focus on what Paul calls the “higher gifts” (prophecy) and make that the monologue we meet around.

    P.S: I am not saying that the monologue is never appropriate but if used to the current standard of every Sunday then I think it goes in direct opposition to both the imperatives I included earlier. Mutual efication and stimulating is the goal of the gathering not single gifted dominance Phillip.

  32. 1-27-2009

    BTW Alan, didnt’ mean to hijack, got a little passionate :o)

  33. 1-27-2009

    Hi Lionel,

    I’m not sure if you were asking the question of me, or the other “Mike” that’s posted, but I’d like to reply.

    Your question as I see it is a bit of a red herring. The book of Acts doesn’t give us a movie script, line by line account of exactly what happened when the early church gathered. “Preaching” doesn’t have to mean 30 minutes of exhortation. It could just involve a couple minutes of declaration with discussion that ensues after. For example, “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh what is said.” 1 Cor 14.29

    Then again, I see no injunction prohibiting speaking longer! Who knows what happened when Paul taught? We know on one occasion he went on long enough that one of his listeners fell asleep and out the window! Acts 20.7-12 As the Word says, “…Eutychus, who was sinking in to a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on.”

    So, yes, I think it entirely plausible that they sat around on their sofa and chairs and passively listened as Paul spoke. I know I’d like that opportunity! I’m sure there were plenty of questions and much conversation as well. But I have no doubt there were times like this when one person would be speaking at length.

    When we gather as a home fellowship it is just like this. Sometimes one will have something to share and will “preach” for a duration of time. It could be for a few minutes, or it could be quite lengthy. Afterward, we usually discuss it. I know that I’m usually very edified by this preaching. After all, hopefully the speaker is speaking by the power of the Holy Spirit! I will usually go away blessed, or rebuked, or encouraged, or all of the above.

  34. 1-27-2009

    Hey Mike,

    It is funny that you include 14:29 without 30 because it goes on to say if the other has something to say from a revelation the one speaking is to “be quiet”. Also in Acts 20 we see that the word used there (as Alan pointed out to Susan) is translated as a dialouge (typically used in discussing the disputing in the synagouges about the Christ).

    By the way I do understand that Acts isn’t a movie script but what say ye of the one anothers in both Colossians 3 and Ephesians 4? Both seem to apply that we are to do this to one another. I think Paul literally means to teach one another maybe he meant after a one hour monologue sermon but it doesn’t seem like it to me.

  35. 1-27-2009

    Alan,

    I’m certainly on board with Jack Watkins comments.

    I’m sometimes quite amazed at the passion wich some subjects arouse.

    How can we be so passionate about maintaing a personal position on the subject of this post without considering it in the context of Jesus command to “make disciples”?

    It’s very obvious that the several words which we use for verbally expressing the truth of Scripture have a vast array of popular understanding, which, it is equally obvious, comes from our traditions and personal preferences, and not from Scripture.

    Sometimes we make statements which, in effect,say, “I disagree with what Scripture says”. At other times,”If I allow Scripture to change my mind, I will suffer consequence such as an affliction of my hip pcket nerve, or trauma to my ambitions”, and many other reasons (read:excuses).

    As one who now is rather long in the tooth, I have learned that expressing the truths of Scripture is exceedingly much more than standing/sitting before a crowd (or an individual) and speaking (whatever term we give to that).

    Making disciples is something which CANNOT be acomplished by SPEAKING, no matter how amazing one demonstrates their theoretical wisdom in their rhetorical, oratorical, preaching, teaching, dialogue-ing skills.

    Unless every aspect of the life of the speaker is a humble,foot-washing, loving, living demonstration of what Jesus meant by the word “disciple”,his/her speaking, writing is utterly in vain.

    Making disciples is, as Jesus showed, MORE CAUGHT THAN TAUGHT.

    Talk (preaching etc.) is cheap unless the speaker is as Paul said he was when he ministered to the Corinthians, “I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”

    A good disciple-maker is a good disciple to the end of his/her life.

    By the way, as I’m sure Alan would agree, just any old definition of the word “disciple” simply will not suffice.

  36. 1-27-2009

    This is a very good discussion about “discussion”. :)

    First, notice that my question was “monologue, dialog, combination, or something else” not “preaching or not preaching… teaching or not teaching”.

    Second, long meetings, as in Acts 20, does not equate to monologue.

    Third, I do not desire to simply question tradition. It is my desire to understand Scripture.

    Fourth, because of this great discussion and the interest, I’ve decided to write a short series (at least two posts) next week concerning this topic of “Monologue and Dialog”. I hope you all decide to take part in that discussion as well.

    -Alan

  37. 1-27-2009

    Alan I will take one more pass at this and leave it alone,

    Lionel I will respond to each point:

    “1. In both Ephesians and Colossians the command is to “teach” one another. How is this accomplished if there is a monologue? This is in the context of the Churches that met in those areas. If that is the case then the singing the admonishment the encouraging is all one way also. Would you make that arguement Sir?”

    Yes I totally agree with you in the “one another’s.” What I am trying to get clarity on is that it “appears” brothers are arguing for one side as the only valid approach when it is not mandated. Surely, teaching can be accomplished in a monologue. Surely, it can be accomplished in dialogue as well. In regards to singing, what if someone has a song and no one else knows it, can’t they sing it “solo?” What if I have an encouragement, does that necessitate someone has to respond back?

    2. In 1 Corinthians 14 it says “each of you” and tells the wives to asks questions at home. How many monologues have questions during the monologue or are you suggesting they preached a monologue and then asked questions after the “sermon”?

    I don’t know but it sure is possible. At the same time, look at the instruction when one prophecy’s. That is a monologue, because the others weigh what is said.

    3. Finally unless you don’t see the imperatives in Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3 as imperatives then I would agree that it is a matter of Christian liberty. The problem is it seems that when the church gathered they were commanded to do those things. I could be wrong again but given the context it just doesn’t seem that way to me. Within the context of the gathering mutual edification seems to be the goal of the gathering and no gift is to dominate that gathering. If that would be the case we need to focus on what Paul calls the “higher gifts” (prophecy) and make that the monologue we meet around.

    Yes I see them as imperatives but the manner in which they where carried out is an entirely different discussion.

    Thanks for the dialogue :)

  38. 1-27-2009

    Having trouble understanding how “preached” could mean “discussed” in Acts 20:7: Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

    I’m hoping God sends us another Pentecost – 3,000 new believers in a day! That would really shake up the way we do “church” (– meaning whatever church service structure works for our situation, it needs to be one that can quickly accommodate lots of new believers).

    It’s been an enlightening discussion! Thanks for hosting it, Alan

  39. 1-27-2009

    Hi Lionel,

    The scripture you mention from Corinthians is simply talking about having order in our gatherings, which of course I would agree with. There is nothing there against preaching.

    As far as Acts 20.7-12… If you’ll look back at my previous post I think you’ll find that I made it very clear that there is a definite place for dialogue when the church gathers. It’s in the scripture and we practice it every week in our own gatherings here! Preaching doesn’t have to replace dialogue; both can happen, and both can edify.

    To Alan,

    You mention that, “… long meetings, as in Acts 20, does not equate to monologue”.

    True, it doesn’t have to mean a monologue will take place just because the meeting is long, but it certainly makes it more likely! :)

    I found this definition:

    A monologue is an extended, uninterrupted speech or poem by a single person. The person may be speaking his or her thoughts aloud or directly addressing other persons, e.g. an audience, a character, reader or an inanimate object

    Paul was most likely doing that, at least for a period of the meeting.

    Preaching is also essentially a monologue by that definition.

  40. 1-27-2009

    Susan,

    The word "preach" in Acts 20:7 is from a word that is normally translated "reasoned", "discussed", or even "disputed" or "argued". For example, the same verb is translated "argued" below:

    But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. (Mark 9:34 ESV)

    In Acts 20:7 & 9, this verb is translated "talked", "spoke", or "preached", while in all other instances it refers to some type of discussion – a give and take, if you will. I think that same translation would work well in Acts 20:7 & 9.

    Mike,

    I’m working on a couple of posts concerning the difference between monologue and dialog that I plan to publish next week. I think there’s one main dinstinction between the two types of speech, which I’ll bring out then.

    -Alan

  41. 1-28-2009

    One last thing about the sermon. I really think we need to look past the sermon, and see the bigger picture.

    There can be a time and place for a monologue. The bigger picture is, why are we doing a monologue in the first place. The scripture is full of description of each member participating in the gathering of the saints. The monologue comes out of the clergy/laity relationship which has no biblical basis.

    I would suggest that one of the greatest problems in the church is, embracing the clergy/laity model. This model produces lazy sheep, dependent on the paid professional clergy. This creates a vicious circle of co-dependancy.

    If you are zealous to serve God, then you are encouraged to go to seminary and become a pastor. This has been going on for centuries. It is not going to change overnight.

    It is a much too complex equation to discuss all of the particulars here, but it takes a paradigm shift to embrace the fact that monologue sermons may not be the best way to minister to the saints. It will take a paradigm shift to understand that the paid professional minister may not be God’s best. That is a tough pill to swallow for those dedicated men who have given their lives to professional ministry.

    There is no easy answer. A man has to feed his family. I have several close friends who walked away from the professional ministry. They still minister, they are just not paid by a church. We must look past our own nobility and see God’s true call.

  42. 1-28-2009

    Jack,

    I agree that this is a very difficult issue, both where people’s livelihoods are at stake, and where maturity is at stake. If every leader decided today to stop giving monologue speeches and started dialogs, it would take a long time for believers to understand – and take action on – the fact that we are all responsible for one another.

    -Alan

  43. 1-10-2010

    jeleasure says:
    January 26, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    As iron sharpens iron, man sharpens man.

    Discussion among well meaning believers, moderated by someone who has planned a direction and has some useful background information or some wise interpretation is how I prefer to do church.

    Sitting among a thousand people is not fellowship, which is what we are commanded to do in meeting together (Hebrews 10:25).

    Alan Knox says:
    January 27, 2009 at 8:31 am
    Susan,

    Interestingly, the word often translated “preached” in Acts 20:7-12 is a word that is usually translated “discussed” in other passages.

    Hi to all
    Let me introduce that I am deaf myself. I was former deaf pastor of Indepentent baptist and also KJV. I learned a hard lesson I thought in Acts 20:7 was that Paul preached like many pastors love to preach. But in you look at Strong’s or Young’s Concordance, some tell you it means discussion, they are right. I thought KJV was 100% perfect…but now I told deaf that I can t say KJV is 100% just like $99.99 like on tv about Soap Ovary. And also many deaf of course forgot most sermons even me. So I changed from preaching to teaching. I did checked all 4 gospels what Jesus did like preach, teach and heal. Wow I learned that most Jesus did was teach, second preach and last heal not much. before Jesus lifted up in book of Acts 1:1 …that Jesus began both to do and teach,….did u see do and teach. Like also in Matthew as Great Commision…true it says Go and Preach but dont forget it says teach or train disciples (believers).
    Thank you