the weblog of Alan Knox

Who Preaches?

Posted by on Nov 18, 2010 in discipleship | 14 comments

Who Preaches?

This post is not about preaching sermons on Sunday morning (or whenever) to the church. I think that lecture style teaching (or preaching) can be beneficial in some contexts. I also think it should be combined with opportunities for other people to speak, at least to ask questions or make comments about what was taught (praught).

Instead, this post is about “preaching” in the scriptural sense of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. Who is responsible for proclaiming the gospel?

What do we see in Scripture? Who “preaches” the gospel to unbelievers in Scripture? Who is exhorted to proclaim the good news in Scripture?

I think that all believers are responsible for preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. (I think 1 Thessalonians 1:8 is a great example of this!) If this is true, how can we help people understand that this is their responsibility (not only for the gifted or educated or professional or trained)? How can we then help people begin to proclaim the gospel to unbelievers?


14 Comments

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  1. 11-18-2010

    I think most people are afraid to proclaim the gospel because they assume, from traditional church experience, that it must be a formal lecturing kind of performance, and that it requires a great deal of formal training. I think it is really difficult for a lot of people to get away from these assumptions, particularly if they are still being exposed to traditional sermon-type preaching on a regular basis.

    If we have experiences of just “sharing the gospel” (sharing the good news of Jesus, especially in terms of our personal experience of relationship with him) together in small groups of believers, then I think we will gain the courage to start to share with nonbelievers.

    I once attended a traditional style church where “testimony time” was encouraged. At first only a few would participate (mostly older leader types), but it didn’t take long for the younger children to want to take part – this assumes that children are allowed to be part of the service, and are encouraged to take part! – and once the kids started, other folks began too. And then folks started to have more courage to share their lives in Christ with friends and relatives and others they met.

    I think the gathering of the church can be a safe place for people to, in a sense, practice, by sharing their walk with Jesus in an encouraging environment. And especially when it is a family environment, where children, who love Jesus unabashedly, are joyful to speak out about Him – and in turn encourage others to speak out. And as different folks share their own walks with Jesus, others learn more about living loved in His life, and can pass that on.

  2. 11-18-2010

    I try to teach others how obey Jesus in relationship to others in the work place and how this typically makes friends. Over time through discussion things come up to which, Jesus has a ready answer to be intelligently and helpfully communicated. And this always leads to the fact that his resurrection confirms that he is competent in all human affairs and that his teachings about God’s kingdom are also true. The Father really does accept people in him, etc etc. In other words, they make Jesus and follow him look as magnificently beautiful as it really is, even when it is hard…which it will be.

    Of course, a lot of these discussion evangelism times must take place with people who are Christians but have not been a part of communities where they “let the word of Christ dwell richly among you.” So they don’t have these skills.

    It involves a great deal of instruction on the point that being a disciple of Jesus is mostly done at home and in the work place, not at a physical place called church, but that the church is, as you know, the assembled name of the people who are disciples.

    A friend recently asked me, ‘how do you spread the idea that being a Christian means learning daily from Jesus and that all of God’s blessings are available to any who would take up his yoke/cross?’ All I could think of was, “mostly one person at a time.”

    Dallas Willard is instructive on these very points here:
    http://dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=53

  3. 11-18-2010

    Norma,

    Thanks for sharing that. I’ve also noticed that people who are allowed to speak and encouraged to speak when the church meets are usually more likely to speak to others as well.

    Geoff,

    “Mostly one person at a time.” That’s the way most discipleship happens, isn’t it? If I want someone to proclaim the gospel, then I need to take the time to teach them how and show them how and give them opportunities to proclaim the gospel.

    -Alan

  4. 11-18-2010

    Alan,

    “How can we then help people begin to proclaim the gospel to unbelievers?”

    O.T.J.T! On The Job Training, or, making disciples.

    I know I am continually beating this drum, but making disciples is like having an apprentice,only more-so, who listens to instruction and watches the experienced person doing their task. Gradually the disciple is able to take over from the discipler, making disciples also.

    The discipler, as well as his/her disciple is then able to repeat the process, effectually multiplying disciples AND disciplers, over and over ad infinitum.

  5. 11-18-2010

    Alan: exactly how. I do think that lecture style teaching (sermons) have a place that can be over estimated…but should not be underestimated either.

  6. 11-19-2010

    Aussie John,

    Exactly.

    Geoff,

    Do you think that lecture style teaching is overemphasized or underemphasized by most churches today?

    -Alan

  7. 11-19-2010

    I think it is over emphasized in importance and under emphasized in it’s prudential use. I think that it is a wonderful time to train people in understanding Scripture and how to read it. It is a wonderful time to offer food for thought, and it is a wonderful time to say a great deal that really does need to be said, that could not be said in discussion.

    Sadly, most preaching is ineffective because it is not actually the fruit of experience and exegesis. Too many pastors (or Christian lecturers…whatever we call them) are spiritually inexperienced and exegetically unhelpful.

    It’s over emphasized in the sense that it is treated as the sole means of spiritual training by many, the only mode of evangelism, the most important event of the week, etc.

  8. 11-19-2010

    Geoff,

    I think that discussion can be a better method of teaching Scripture than lecture. Or, at least, a Q&A session is almost necessary for people to learn how to interpret Scripture for themselves. Otherwise, I think lecture tends to teach people NOT to interpret Scripture for themselves.

    -Alan

  9. 11-19-2010

    I include question and answer time after my evening service sermons; Sunday school is all reading, brief explanation, discussion, and question and answer.

    And after Sunday mornings (traditional style service) we have lunch in the building together and that time is used to discuss the Scriptures. This time also facilitates people becoming very good friends and sharing burdens, meeting needs, and giving advice of one kind or another.

  10. 11-20-2010

    Geoff,

    Q&A sessions are a great way to get people involved in speaking to one another so that they can encourage, teach, admonish, etc. one another as necessary when they gather together. I also love having a meal together as part of our meeting, which also promotes fellowship and the “one anothers.” We do that also.

    Why do y’all not do a Q&A Sunday morning?

    -Alan

  11. 11-20-2010

    Because the lunch afterward facilitates that and it’s the only time for lecture style teaching all week long. Also, if the service goes too long by accident, dinner gets burned or cold…so to include that during the structured service (a sacred cow, but one we use intentionally…not haphazardly) makes the hang out and discuss Jesus together time afterward more difficult…because it’s more pleasant to sit and chat over tasty food.

    Grover’s style is very didactic though, so he pretty regularly stops and asks questions, 3/4 sermons includes that.

    There is a time every morning service for whomever wishes to speak a word of encouragement, recite a favorite scripture, explain a blessing, or relate a prayer request for everybody to hear, as many in our town (poor economy) have to work Sundays, so they leave before lunch time…another reason to have a structured service, so people can request a specific time not to work.

  12. 11-22-2010

    Geoff,

    Thanks for the explanation. Are other people ever given a chance to lecture/teach?

    -Alan

  13. 11-22-2010

    Yeah, my buddy Paul just preached yesterday.

  14. 11-22-2010

    Geoff,

    Sounds like a good plan! I like the fact that several people speak.

    -Alan