They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Children grow up to be like their parents, imitating their values, their mannerisms and their way of life.
In the same way, raising generations of God’s people in sermon-centric churches produces a vast sea of Christians who believe the only way to communicate God’s message is through monologue and having all the “right answers”.
We have a problem on our hands. The world does not want to be preached at. Who can blame them? I don’t want to be preached at. I’m sure you don’t, either.
Nobody likes being lectured, but every person on this planet longs to be listened to, to be known and heard and empowered and encouraged. We will open our hearts and our lives to those who take the time to relate to us, empathize with us, see us as we truly are and love and accept us.
Jesus did that. He spent time with people. He partied with them. He asked them questions. He showed compassion, empathy, respect and value for the ostracized and abandoned – the ones who were normally chastised and sermonized for their life choices.
Since we’ve been running “Church in a Circle” with recovering addicts, we’ve discovered the power of facilitation – a radically different approach to teaching and learning. Instead of giving people all the answers, we see the value in setting up thought-provoking stimuli and asking the right questions for people to learn for themselves. We see how powerful it is simply to ask people to share their stories – and then listen attentively and respectfully. We see how people are capable of directly interacting with God’s Word, not just listening to others interpret it for them. We see God’s people taking ownership of and responsibility for their own learning, being empowered to move forward rapidly in their spiritual journey and dragging others with them.
There’s a secondary effect to facilitation we didn’t expect but which really excites us – everybody in the group seems to pick up facilitation skills along the way. By watching the leader ask good questions, and listen well, and be flexible to the needs of others, the whole group start to spontaneously minister to one another, both inside and outside of the meeting.
Christians who think sermonizing is the most effective evangelism tool drive away their friends and family by lecturing them and always trying to have the right answers. The world needs more Christians who can interact and listen respectfully, ask the right questions and admit they don’t have all the answers.
What we model is what we teach. Sermon-centric churches produce passive listeners who only feel they are able to spread God’s message if they have a seminary degree or can deliver a convincing monologue (which is rarely socially appropriate in any setting). Facilitation allows God’s people to pick up helpful interaction skills which are valuable in developing kingdom relationships within and outside of the church community.
Children often grow up to look like their parents, and God’s people often end up looking like their leaders. Let’s encourage our leaders to move from preaching to facilitation, from speaking to listening, from performance to empowerment.
This article was recently published on the House 2 House Magazine website.Be sure to head over there to read a fantastic range of articles by simple church advocates. The theme for this month has been “Multiplication“.