My friend Eric at “A Pilgrim’s Progress” has been making some good statements and asking some good questions about sermons and preaching in the modern sense of the terms.
He started last week with his post “Ironically, Pulpit Preaching Violates Sola Scriptura,” and he continued last weekend with his post “A Better Alternative to Pulpit Preaching.”
In the first post, he makes his point clearly and early that monologue sermons/teaching are not found in Scripture:
Most pastors, preaching from a pulpit, will look to scripture to at least inform their sermons. They do this because they believe that the bible is our primary source of authority. It is how God has revealed himself to us. My guess is that almost all pastors would say they hold to the doctrine of sola scriptura.
The irony is all this should be obvious. If we scour the pages of the New Testament, we cannot find even one example of anyone preaching to the church. No one gives a monologue-style speech to a silent audience. It simply does not occur. It is foreign to the life of the church we see in scripture.
In the second post, he lists six principles that he finds in the New Testament: 1) Multiple participation, 2) Order, 3) Group comprehension, 4) Group discussion, 5) Role, and 6) Group edification.
This is the alternative to pulpit preaching that Eric finds in Scripture:
All six of the above principles apply well to teaching as the church comes together. Multiple people teach in orderly fashion. Teaching should always involve group discussion to bring about group comprehension. Roles are followed as this occurs. The end purpose and desire is body growth in Jesus Christ.
When we apply these principles, we are following God’s model for teaching as the church comes together. Not surprisingly, this is the most effective way to bring about Christian maturity and body unity.
Not surprisingly, I’ve found these and similar principles, examples, and even commands in Scripture. Also, while sermon preaching is usually wrapped in language related to the importance of Scripture, mutual teaching, encouragement, and discussion are just as likely to be scriptural in their content.
Now, even though I believe this, I do not think that it would be beneficial for all churches to suddenly change the format of their teaching from a sermon monologue to a group discussion. But, I do think it would be beneficial to start moving in that direction.