Posts Tagged ‘asking questions after preaching’

I believe there is something wrong with the preaching in most Christian churches today.

The problem isn’t the setting.  Most worship centers make it easy to see and hear the pastor … often with video enhancement.

The problem isn’t the source material.  Scripture is spiritually rewarding, intellectually challenging, relationally practical, and emotionally fulfilling.

The problem isn’t with theology.  Most pastors know what they believe and why they believe it.

The problem isn’t the pastor per se.  Most pastors possess fine stage presence, connect well with their congregations, and are good communicators.

No, in my mind, the problem is this:

Preaching has become a monologue.

Last Sunday, I attended a megachurch nearby.

I thought the pastor’s message was very good.  He taught verse by verse … told some great stories … and tended to view the world as I do, since we’re roughly the same age.

But after he was done preaching, I had some questions about his message.

But how and when could I ask them?

The services weren’t designed for congregational interaction.  The first service started at 8:00 am … the second was at 9:45 … and the last one was at 11:30.

Since the pastor had to preach three times, there wasn’t any time for questions.  I understand that.

But if I sent him an email during the week, what were the chances that I’d even reach him?  I once tried contacting a megachurch pastor online and had to fill out a form beforehand … and he never wrote me back.

I guess what’s bothering me … and I’ve felt this way for nearly 30 years … is that most people don’t learn very much by listening to a monologue.

For example, I once heard former President Bill Clinton speak at an event after he was out of office, and five minutes later, I couldn’t remember a thing he said.

This is one reason why some pastors include a sermon outline in the bulletin … sometimes using fill-in-the-blanks … because “impression without expression leads to depression.”

And some churches feel they’ve resolved this problem by offering small groups during the week that discuss the pastor’s sermon … but let’s be honest, you’re still not speaking to the pastor directly.

But what if a pastor brings a message on a topic and you:

*disagree strongly with his viewpoint?

*think he’s completely missed the point of a passage?

*would like him to clarify something he said?

*want him to elaborate on an issue a little bit more?

*are struggling to find the relevancy of his sermon?

Let me offer four ideas to encourage more feedback between pastors and their hearers:

First, set up microphones in the aisles and let the pastor answer questions for 10-15 minutes after his message.

This was the custom of a famous pastor in London for many years.  After he was done speaking, he allowed people to ask him questions in public.

This is certainly biblical.

In John 8, Jesus does something similar in the temple courts in Jerusalem.  He says, “I am the light of the world.”  The Pharisees challenge him.  Jesus responds.  They ask him a question.  They mumble to themselves.  Jesus answers.  They ask Him another question.  Jesus answers … offers a clarification …  and then John says, “Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him.”

Whether this practice is done weekly or monthly, it would certainly arouse congregational interest.

Yes, the pastor might have to cut his message a little shorter, but what’s wrong with that?

I tried this once while preaching on “the new atheists,” and received a great response … and I absolutely loved it myself.

Second, let people text questions to someone who chooses several questions and displays them on a video screen.

While the pastor is preaching, listeners can text questions to a central location.  A very wise individual … maybe an associate pastor or staff member …  then chooses 3-5 questions … inputs them into the church’s software … and throws them up on the screen when the pastor is done speaking.

This is something that I wanted to do in my last ministry.  I’m sure there’s a way to do it, but we just couldn’t figure it out.

But this approach uses technology … keeps people interested … and forces the pastor to clarify, defend, or expand on his remarks after he speaks.

Third, the pastor announces an upcoming topic and asks people to write down their questions about that issue.

Let’s say that I’m going to be preaching on raising children in two weeks.  I’d tell the congregation, “If you have questions about raising kids, please write them on your communication/response card today and next Sunday.  I’ll choose as many questions as possible and answer them two weeks from today.”

I did this with messages on marriage, forgiveness, and heaven, and found that my preparation time was cut in half …  but the interest in those topics was sky-high because the congregation determined the topics.

On those occasions when I did this, it was always for the last message in a series.  I wanted God’s people to let me know what they were thinking and feeling.

Finally, consider having a forum over issues of national importance.

When the scandal involving President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky broke in 1998, I was living in Arizona.

Millions of Americans were riveted to their TV screens, not just because of the scandal, but because we didn’t know how to think about it.

Some of the President’s defenders said, “This is just about sex.  It’s no big deal.”

Others said, “But the President has repeatedly lied to the American people and refuses to tell the truth.  Should he resign?  Be impeached?”

People were throwing Bible verses around like “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”  We were told, “Let’s just forgive the President and move on.”

For the average American … and the average Christian … it was all very confusing.

A church two miles from my house … one of America’s top ten largest churches at the time … decided to hit the issue head on.

They put together a panel of experts and asked them to share their views from a biblical perspective.  As I recall, the congregation was allowed to ask them questions during Sunday services.

While I loved this idea … realizing that it scares the daylights out of others … at least that church was being relevant and letting people offer feedback.

I believe in preaching.  I believe in one man holding a Bible and saying, “This is what God says in His Word.”

It’s a powerful way to communicate … but it’s not the only way to communicate.

So from time-to-time, why can’t pastors present God’s Word and then let people ask questions?

This is just my opinion … but I think people would flock to a church that offered feedback.

What do you think about my ideas?





















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