Is Preaching To The Masses Passé?

churchMy last few blog posts have centered on the need for church to change. But this time I want to offer an idea for a new church structure. It is just an idea and I would value your feedback in the comments section. Now, this is not something I have dreamt on my own, but I have been looking at an industry that is very similar to church, education. Both churches and schools spend a lot of their time educating their constituents. Thus, they are very similar in emphases and structure.

Over the past 100 years, every day in primary and secondary schools, teachers have lectured their students. Some included in-classroom exercises to reinforce what was just taught, and then students have homework to practice further concepts taught in the classroom. Then, as we have all experienced, we are given tests to indicate how well we have learned what we have been taught. I have tremendous respect for teachers because they are constantly juggling 20-30 students keeping the fast learners from getting bored, and trying to give slower learners extra support to keep them moving forward.

If any teachers are reading this, you know first-hand that there is a tremendous shift happening in schools today. Popular terms used to talk about this shift are “personalized learning,” “flipped classroom,” or “individualized instruction.” The main concept of this shift is for teachers to no longer lecture in front of the class and expect all students to progress at the pace the teacher sets. Instead teachers are now guiding the learning of each student individually. So each student is on their own path and can progress at their own pace. Yes, there are still benchmarks of progress each student must reach by the end of the year, but now the teacher can guide this learning and the student becomes much more active in taking responsibility and pursuing their own learning.

In this new model, everyone participates, the teacher and the student. No longer do students sit for hours listening to lecture after lecture, taking notes; neither do teachers give the same lecture two to three times a day. Now, both teachers and students go on the learning journey together, down the path set by the curriculum. No longer are teachers viewed as the sage on the stage, but as a mentor, a facilitator, a guide who can draw deeper learning from their students by offering wisdom, different perspectives, and asking questions that make students reason and think, and not just repeat what they memorized. Perhaps, this is a model churches could adopt.

In my last two blog posts, I have mentioned that one of the main reasons the “dones” are leaving the church is that they want to participate more instead of sit in a pew and listen to another sermon. They want to be involved; they want to be active in using their knowledge, expertise, and gifts to help others. I could easily see teams of leaders guiding, mentoring, and helping believers grow deeper in their faith and knowledge of the Bible and of God. In this structure both congregants and leaders embark upon a journey to learn together. Now, I am not advocating putting unskilled or inexperienced people in positions of leadership, but I am advocating giving those who are mature in their faith opportunities to use their gifts to guide the learning of others.

It might be hard to break away from the mindset of groups of people being taught by one person. Heck, most of us have experienced this for most of our lives. But at the time when we have so many mature, experienced, educated and godly “dones” why not engage them and create opportunities for them to participate.

 

By embarking upon journeys together, conversations will happen, people will share what they are thinking, will read something that gave them insight, taught them something new, or even answered prayer. People will read together, people will read on their own, people will wrestle with problems in the company of others who support them. Since we are all in this journey together, I think participation by more people would be a good thing. Now, I will repeat, I am not saying I have all of the answers. I am not saying this is the way things have to be. This is one perspective that I wanted to share.

So, your turn, what do you think?

By Guest Blogger, CK Miller

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28 thoughts on “Is Preaching To The Masses Passé?

  1. The title “Is preaching to the masses passe?”, took me to mass evangelism like Billy Graham or Greg Laurie. I don’t think that is totally passe but I think it depends how the church goes.

    When I read the post, I realized you’re talking about current and possible future church model. Personally I like the interaction style much better. I also like the Messianic Jewish style which had 4 parts: Traditional worship & prayer, an interactive Bible study from Jewish perspective (highly informative, transformative), dinner together, then closing the Shabbat ceremony. This style has the one element you’re talking about, the interactive Bible study. I also think the early church was fast on the feet, very dynamic and organic. The Jewish model has a fixed structure, the traditional Torah service. It also has the open structure. I think both are necessary. I believe the early church stuck to both.

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    1. Hi Peter,

      This style sounds very interesting and engaging for all parties attending. It is nice that the service includes sharing a meal together. There is something about sharing a meal that creates a bond between all present.

      How does this type of model spread for more people to participate?

      CK

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    2. Peter,
      As you said, CK and myself are referring to all the current church studies, which over and over show that, TODAY, Christians want to be more involved at church than to constantly be preached at. Starting with Jesus, preaching to masses has always been a part of church’s activities, but we now live at different times. With a click of my mouse, I can watch some of the best preachers in the world on my laptop and at the privacy of my home. If preaching is what people looking for, they don’t need to drive to church. So, there’s got to be more to church than just hearing another message. Especially, as I mentioned on my post, “Church’s Shallow Teachings”, people are preached at at nauseam, but to what end? From what I’ve seen, the church it America has an insatiable appetite for “deeper” teachings, but hardly ever acts on any of it.

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  2. Sounds like a pretty good idea. Honestly I am a little discontent in my current church, I believe at lot of it is due to the model. It suppose you would call it seeker sensative, the teaching seems pretty basic and they do not have any Sunday school classes. There are a lot of new believers or rather a lot of people from mainline denominations that seem to not have the foundation I got growing up in the church. Sounds like a great model to me as long as those teaching were solid in their faith. Honestly I’m really longing for some in depth discussion and just can’t find it where I am (a church of 3000 plus). I’m really at a point where I just don’t understand the mega church movement.

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    1. Dave – I share your sentiments completely. I replied to Shah’s email with these thoughts and that I long for “the meat” of The Word, not just the appetizers & mashed potatoes (though yummy, a steady diet of just these aren’t the healthiest for growth), that seem to be the main course of most churches especially mega churches; I can no longer tolerate the bland pablum of the feel-good, seeker sensitive ones that are led by motivational speakers and little, if any, actual Scriptural study. Thus, I have yet to find a home church where I am fed, really fed, to the point of feeling full and healthy…metaphor used but you get the idea.

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      1. Carolyn, it was great talking to you on the phone.
        I’m all for “the meat” if I only knew what that was. Because what’s the meat for me may be nothing but mashed potatoes for you. How can a pastor of a mega church meet both our needs in a 30-45 minute sermon on a Sunday? Even more important (this one is my personal pet peeve) why do I need deeper teachings when I’m not even doing, obeying, or following the so called, “shallow teachings”. I touched on this on my post, “Churches shallow teachings”. When I pastored, I always told my church members, “I’ll give you deeper teachings as soon as you start obeying MY shallow teachings.”
        At least in my life, I’ve found that my true feeding comes by discussing biblical/life issues with other believers around a meal or a cup of coffee and not necessary listening to another “sage on the stage”.

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    2. Carolyn and Dave,

      Yes, I completely understand how you feel. With deep teaching it feels like you really get to know God better and that the relationship grows deeper. This is truly satisfying to the soul.

      CK

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    3. Dave, what I’m about to say is solely my own conclusion and have no statistics to back it up.
      If I’m correct, the mega church movement came out of the church growth movement of the 80s, which taught us how to grow big at the expense of driving a lot of small churches out business—the same way a Walmart in your neighborhood runs many mom’s and pop’s small stores out of business. For the most part, these churches main focus was/is on more and better programs rather than evangelism, which short of God’s miracle, is not the best way to make your church grow to be a mega church—in any average American church the majority of members (I venture to say over 90%) are transferred Christians. The problem with programs vs. evangelism is that regardless of how good your product is, without evangelism, sooner or later you’ll run out of members. Walmart may have great/cheap stuff, but with no customers, they have no one to sell the stuff to, so they will eventually go out of business. At least around where I live, many mega church members are my age or older and we’re literally dying out, which means without fresh believers (evangelism), the mega churches are on their way out.
      As for having deep discussions, please, if you haven’t already, read my last post, “This is how we do church” and start your own group at home. I’ll be more than happy to help you with it.

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  3. I was fortunate enough to have been discipled into ministry by a man who encouraged us to “be and do church” at the cellular, congregational and celebration level with the emphasis upon meaningful relationship and character and not on head knowledge, charisma or stage talent. I would encourage visitors to this site to check out stuff by Mike Breen, Caesar Kalinowski, Ralph Moore, Neil Cole, Thom Rainer or even Ed Stetzer. In this list, Breen probably gives the clearest examples of how church can become more relational and missional.

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    1. fmiasia,

      I think many of us could use some reminders about what relationships mean, or even friendship for that matter. We live in such a structured, and now media intense world, that I think many of us forget what it means to be a friend. Too many churches focus all of their time on the performance of the church service,and don’t leave enough time for true fellowship to happen. I think this is especially true at mega churches.

      CK

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    2. Hi fmi nasia,
      You’ve been mentored well. Ralph Moore, a dear friend, was one of my first mentors about 38 years ago. My problem with Ed Setetzer is not realizing that majority of “Dones” are godly people who are unhappy with church as usual. To assume that by them leaving the church, the church is now better off (“Now we only have real Christians at our churches”, as he said) is childish and frankly, offensive.

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  4. I think what we are all hungry for is the Holy Spirit. Used to be when one would show up at certain churches, the Holy Spirit would be so present that miracles always happened. People left changed.

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    1. Yes…but…this emphasis on the Holy Spirit lately is a it worrisome. These songs sung to the Holy Spirit? “Holy Spirit, come in…Holy Spirit, you are welcome here…” yikes. Not scriptural and going to church, expecting miracles vs. building on Scripture, one’s walk, sharing TheGospel., learning and growing…the Great Commission, not the Miracle Hour. This emphasis can lead to misplaced importance on secondary issues and false teachings with little regard for strong discernment. Just yesterday I was viewing videos of well known church “apostles” during an ‘anointing ceremony of a certain Florida preacher (he was on his back, “slain in the spirit” during the ‘ceremony’) and the woman reading from The Word was under the power of a Kundalini spirit. Her head was shaking violently and the hissing sounds were so creepy! The men, the apostles, just stood there as if this was normal. Uh, no. Not one stepped forward to rebuke that. spirit(s) and the woman kept reading from the Bible. ?????? If this is acceptable behavior with zero discernment, pity those who follow these leaders and their doctrine.

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      1. Carolyn, as you know, the emphasis on the HS is not as of late. From day one There’s been an emphasis on the Holy Spirit coming along side of the believers. Jesus often preached after He showed the power of God through the presence of the Holy Spirit by signs and wonders. His disciples did the same. I know that today many believe that the Holy Spirit is done with miracles because we now have the Bible. That’s good and well, but what about those who’ve never seen a Bible in their lives like so many Iranians I’ve dealt with for the last 30-40 years? As one of my disciples who oversees several thousand underground house-churches in Iran told me, “It’s amazing to read the Book of Acts at home and step outside to see it unfold in front of your eyes with signs and wonders.”

        God knows there are a lot of bad Christian teachings, but it’s not always fair to compare their worst teachings with our best. There are churches who with all their emphasis on teaching the Bible, are now worshiping the Bible as if it’s God himself. My God is much bigger than the Bible and cannot be confined to only 66 books.

        I frequently ask people, “Why did you go to church last Sunday?” The answers are often a combinations of:
        1. It was Sunday. The Bible says we shouldn’t forget to get together.
        2. I went to worship
        3. I went to fellowship
        4. I went to hear a good message
        5. I went to find a mate
        6. I went to get away from my mate
        7. I went to conduct business
        8. And…
        which are mostly good reasons, but I’ve hardly ever heard one person say, “I went to meet with God!” And this is what J refers to.—An expectation above and beyond all the above reasons.

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  5. Well done Shah – you’ve discovered Ephesians 4:11&12 at last! BTW, it’s been in the Bible all along, like everything else we need to be, ‘thoroughly furnished for all good works’. Best. Ian

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      1. Among other things, it is. Apologies that my initial response seemed to be sarcastic. It wasn’t meant to be. I was trying to make the point that we don’t need to follow the latest idea that the world has finally come round to understanding but that all we need in order to live the Christian life both as individuals and in the Church context is right there in the Bible, as per 2 Timothy 3:17.

        The verses I alluded to (Ephesians 4:11 & 12) tell us that God has given to his Churches people with gifts who equip saints ‘for the works of THEIR ministry’. The ministry referred to is the saints’ ministry, for which they have been and are being equipped by apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastors and teachers.

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      2. Hi Ian, no offense taken. Yes, the model of more participation by all the saints is in the Bible. We just need to break out of our rut and get more people involved.

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    1. I couldn’t agree with you more. I believe a church should act the way a Jazz quartet functions—at any given time, it’s clear who’s the leader of the band, but he/she doesn’t hug the show, but allows the other players to also show their God-given talents by having their own solo-time. Unfortunately, this is not the way an average church operates. For whatever reason, insecurity, fear, or lack of proper mentoring, most pastors think it’s their job to lead worship, read announcements, pray for the offerings, collect the offerings, and if he/she believes in it, pray over the sick, prophesy, speak in tongues and interpret, and then preach. This leaves no room for the other Eph. 4:11-12 people to be used by God.

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      1. Hi Shah

        Thanks for your response. I wasn’t suggesting CK was being sarcastic. I was apologising because I felt my initial response to your post read sarcastically. Ian

        Ian Jemmett

        >

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    2. Dear Ian, I went back and reread your comment. I now see why you were apologizing 😊 Yes, it does sound like you’re the only person who’s ever read his Bible and that we, the less informed, have finally caught up with you 😞 However, if it’s so obvious, how come your country, a nation that gave us the likes of Witfields, Wesleys, and Careys is now so secularized and away from God? Would you have said the same thing to John Wesley who started to preach outdoor and by doing so suggested what seemed to the Church of England to be a new, vulgar and worldly approach to preaching the Gospel? “We don’t need this new approach. All we need is in the Bible.” Where in the article is CM suggesting that we should follow the world’s latest idea? If anything, she is affirming what the Scripture says by giving an example to show that even this ungodly world is verifying what’s been in the Bible all along.

      Love you, brother

      PS. I’m placing as many emoji on this reply as possible to make sure you know this is all done in good spirit between two friends who care for and respect each other 😇

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      1. Hi Shah and thanks, as always. I hope I would have said to John Wesley, ‘All we need is in the Bible’. I hope as well that I would have recognised that open-air preaching is in the Bible – an idea, incidentally, that John Wesley initially vigorously opposed until persuaded that it was right by George Whitfield.

        What’s happened in the UK? Good question and one I’m hardly qualified to answer. We should look at disasters and try to analyse their causes. You who are in the U.S. should look at it in particular (I genuinely humbly suggest) because it seems to me that mistakes that were made in the UK are being repeated in the U.S. You’re just not as far down the road – yet, but you’ve definitely moved a long way in the same direction and are continuing to do so.

        If you look at the comments on this post God’s hardly getting a word in. There’s so Much, ‘I’. I’m sure that’s a major component of what went wrong here and something we need to oppose. You can live on what’s left over from genuine revival for so long but it is only religion and will be replaced by the next religion to become popular. In our case that has been secular humanism. The attempt is now being made by many to replace that with Islam and the stupid British establishment, which is thoroughly secular and naive, is bending over backwards to give it the beachheads it needs. Thankfully there has been, among a section of UK Christians, a return to a more meaningful engagement with God through his Word the Bible. However, we need to go much further and seek genuine revival. We could still become another North Africa or Western Turkey, places that were crucially important in Christianity’s early centuries but which were lost to darkness.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. In losing a good portion of my hearing preaching to the masses for me isn’t as effective as an experience for me. Small groups but more effectively one on ones are the experiences to both.

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  7. Wow, enjoying the comments on this blog post. Interesting what goes through people’s minds, what they feel is lacking, what they do appreciate in a church. I do agree that what we lack in this day and age are real relationships. Small groups are great for that. So many people pop into a church for one or two hours Sunday morning, never talk to anyone, and off they go. We as a Church need relationship and community, that is when we grow. Living our isolated lives and sitting passively in the pew doesn’t cut it. I do love our Sunday morning sermons because we actually get taught scripture which seems to be lacking in mega churches. We also have a small group Bible study where it is more intimate. I would say the majority of American Christians stay in isolation. Our “progess” has fostered even more. We have to be the ones to decide if we are going to continue to live like that or are we brave enough to seek more. In my personal life I seek more, I desire more. I want to be challenged and confronted. I want real and meaningful. I want to glean wisdom from others who are further along the path, I want people who are similar to me, and I want to help those who are new on the path. I think a healthy balance of the three is best. And to get that I think we need to “fight” for it and make the effort. It’s not going to just come walking on your doorstep. It takes being vulnerable and courageous.

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    1. Kathleen, the word is, as you say, “fight”! We can’t stay complacence because we have our salvation. We need to content for more.
      I was on a panel discussion along with representatives of the LGBT, gay, Bahai, and Iranian dissidents in front of about 120 people from the Iranian Jewish community last Thursday night. The meeting was put together by an Iranian Jewish organization called, “30 Years After” expressing a concern about the nuclear deal with Iran. I was representing the flight of the Christians in Iran.
      I believe almost everyone there was a Dem. so there were a few potshots taken at Bush, by Congressman Brat Sherman, and at the Christians by the LGBT representative who basically said Christians would drop a bomb on West Hollywood if they could because rejecting evolution and believing that God made the world in 7 days makes them unreasonable. This was after he’d heard me start my presentation by telling everyone how over 40 years I left Islam to become a follower of Jesus Christ, my Lord and savior.
      This meeting was supposed to had been about the persecution of minorities in Iran. I find it interesting that anymore, it seems that we’re supposed to show all kinds of tolerance and acceptance of everyone else without receiving any compromise from the other side.
      Afterwards, I walked up to the gentlemen and said to him, “I have a challenge for you. I’m one of those guys who believes that the world was created in 7 days, but I love you and I’m willing to stand with you demonstrating against the atrocities committed by the Iranian government against your community (About 4-6 thousands gays have been executed in Iran). Will you be willing to do the same for us Christians?” He said, “yes!” I’m looking forward to meeting with him again.

      This is how we content for the truth of the Gospel. By being the salt and the light Christ has called us to be.

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