Thursday, May 26, 2011


Heck Yeah

Writing at Patheos, C. Michael Patton says:
The Church Must Do More Than Preach
His point is great as far as it goes:
There should be a time when people in the church can learn in a different environment with different rules. There should be a time when people can interrupt and ask tough questions. There should be a place where people feel free to object. There should be an atmosphere where people can express their doubts and struggles with doctrine without fear of being publically reprimanded. There should be a place where people can intellectually engage their minds at a different level.
You know, sometimes I think small groups are just a way for the preacher to avoid confrontation and intellectual challenge.

I knew a marvelous preacher once - people came from far and wide to hear him - but if you put him in a Sunday school class, after he taught from his prepared text, and challenged him with question that pushed the envelope a little, he shut down. I had this experience when he was new to the church - he soon quit doing Sunday school classes. Years later I heard second hand that he had a new job granted on the basis of him completing a PhD in 5 years. I predicted at the time we would not get the job done because I knew he could never stand for orals. Five years later I heard he got a new job.

I understood him becasue I understood how very cool it is to stand in front of people and have them pay rapt attention. I know how cool it is to be so polished when you speak that people applaud. Feels fantastic - tempting to make a career out of it, even a low paying one - the other perks more than make up for it.

But the point of standing in front of people and talking is not to be heard - it's to instruct. We do not take in information at face, it must be integrated into what we already know, it must be systematized with the other information in our brains. It must be tested for its truth and validity - and it must be applied to our current circumstance.

And then there is the fact that it should alter our behavior....

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