On a facebook group i'm a member of someone asked what it would be like if people who teach in church could help their listeners realise that this was the first word, not the last, on a subject. How different would things be if people used sermons as a starting point for discussions, rather than just assimilating a new understanding of truth into their understanding of Jesus and his message? The message was written from an american perspective. The text in italics was my reply.
I'm not sure I'd fully identify with the idea that when I taught something it was the final word. I find myself more and more inviting people onto a journey of discovery, offering suggestions, sharpening questions, discovering more options that the two I'd been presented with.
Although contemporary spiritual seekers here in the UK will often be willing to follow a new age guru, when it comes to the message of Jesus it seems that everyone has an opinion, and they all are held as valid. I'm not sure who I am to claim the sole validity, but the church's usual approach leaves most people cold.
The approach in higher education here is a kind of "guided learning", it would make a good model for churches. What would it be like if someone spoke on what they owned as merely one perspective, and then invited seminar groups to take their message apart and see what stands up to scrutiny and application?
I wonder what it would be like? In my previous church I had a small panel of people who used to appraise my sermons for me. I wonder if there is a way of encouraging groups to make it a regular practice. Would ministerial egos withstand it? I think the team here would be fine, it might make what we do better, and would almost certainly lead to a greater degree of "doing theology" in our congregations.
I wonder if this could only be done by a few, or whether it would be an option for entire congregations on a Sunday? It might hasten the end of a bad way of teaching that we seem far too wedded to given the society we live in.
I wonder how many barriers there would be to it, and where they'd come from? Feel free to leave any thoughts.