the weblog of Alan Knox

Teaching through shared life experiences? But what about books, articles, and blog posts?

Posted by on Feb 3, 2012 in discipleship | 5 comments

Teaching through shared life experiences? But what about books, articles, and blog posts?

So, I’ve written two posts recently about the importance of teaching through shared life experiences (i.e., demonstrating what it means to follow Jesus Christ) and about the implications of this kind of teaching for the gathering of the church.

But, there’s another form of “teaching” that the modern church relies on heavily. And, unfortunately, this kind of teaching is even more removed from a shared life than the teaching that goes on when the church gathers.

What teaching am I talking about? The “teaching” that is available through books, articles, essays, and even blog posts! Yes, I’m including my own blog posts in this category.

As little as we sometimes know about the life of the person who teaches when the church gathers, we usually know even less about the person who wrote the book, article, essay, or blog post that we are reading. (Yes, I know that there are a few fortunate readers here who actually know me in real life…)

However, think about how often we drift toward this kind of teaching… What do we do when a couple is struggling in their marriage? Recommend a book. What do we do when someone wonders which Bible translation they should read? Point them to a magazine article that lists the pros and cons of each translation. What do we do when someone disagrees with us? Point them to a blog post that explains our position.

Obviously, books, essays, articles, blog posts, etc. can be effective means of communicating information. But, remember, we’ve already discovered that in Scripture teaching goes far beyond communicating information. If that information is separated from shared life experiences, then very little teaching is actually taking place. (By the way, you can also include podcasts – audio and video – in this category as well.)

So, what can we do? We live in an information age. We are inundated with information, including information about God, people, the church, etc. Why, there is more information on this blog alone than I care to read or could possibly process…

It would be completely impossible to try to separate ourselves completely from this kind of information transfer. Instead of attempting to stop the flow of information, we should seek to live it in community with others. That’s right… live it. When we are confronted with new information, bring it into the community and decide whether to and how to live accordingly together.

Remember, if you can’t live it together, then you are not learning it anyway.

When you begin to live it together, don’t put the emphasis on what “so-and-so” said or how “such-and-such” explained it. Put the focus where it belongs: what God is doing in and through his children – including in and through you. This is the power of teaching in lives that are shared with one another in Jesus Christ.

The power is not in the books, articles, or blog posts – even wonderfully crafted and completely true blog posts such as those you read here. The power is in the work of Holy Spirit in his children as you share your lives with one another.


5 Comments

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  1. 2-3-2012

    Well said. I often find myself reading more books, articles and blogs about Jesus or the Christian life than actually discussing and living these things out with others. Heck, I’ve read way more than I could ever process online. I’m seeing this change though, slowly but surely :)

  2. 2-3-2012

    but to bring new info into our community/our church and try to live it out together (or what to do with it)… that means some are gonna disagree on how to live it out….and so we’ll have to split and find people who are exactly the same on all ideas….so there goes the community!…

    i don’t know it just seems easier to have sermons from one pastor, worship time together through music & then a small group once a week when it’s convenient.

    :)

  3. 2-3-2012

    Alan, thank you for this. I’m an avid reader but so much of it goes in and rather quickly back out again, without changing my life in a major way. I read somewhere else recently that we can use knowledge as a defence against having to change our lives…. that strongly spoke to me, and your recent posts on learning in community have given me another nudge!

  4. 2-3-2012

    P.S. I gotta tell you how divine this was that I read this today…. I was cleaning out papers today and had one of my panic attacks caused my major information overload and frustration over… just the overload! Such a great way to put it….. and the overwhelmingness of it all — what to DO with all this STUFF I have bookmarked, saved, cut out, clipped, organized…… is it necessary? will I ever use it? how should I organize it? What to keep, what not to….. this was a great reminder that, “if I can’t live it out, I’m not learning it anyway” …

    so keep the ones that were very impactful to me.. maybe keep some that really stir my affections for Christ or create a stirring in me that I WANT to live out but can’t yet…. but mostly just CHUCK knowing that God will bring it back to my attention if He needs to.

    Live by the Spirit… not by my big fat brain… or some big fat binder that I can’t whip out in every day anyway…. :) got it!

    until next month…

  5. 2-3-2012

    And one more thought – in our ‘connected age’, since we read and comment and interact, isn’t even our blog posts part of community?