I’ve been asked recently by several people outside of VI why we do dialogue teaching instead of the traditional monologue sermon. I’ll lovingly smile and then give them an answer far longer then they expected…
“For years we have been exposing Christians to scattered, random bits of biblical knowledge through our church services and Christian education classes. They hear a principle here and read a truth there, then nod their head in approval and feel momentarily satisfied over receiving this new insight into their faith. But within the space of just a few hours that principle or truth is lost in the busyness and complexity of their lives. They could not capture that insight and own it because they had never been given a sufficient context and method that would enable them to analyze, categorize, and utilize the principle or truth. This inability to systematically apply Scriptural truth produces a spiritual superficiality or immaturity that is reflected in behavior.”
A main problem many of us have been facing over the last several months is the facilitating of our Living Room discussion. Many members of our communities seem to be unengaged, timid, or unwilling to participate. I believe the primary reason for this is the way we (leadership) have approached the discussion. Many of us have taken the route of studying the passage, preparing a 3-point sermon, teaching it, and then asking the Living Room questions based off of your teaching. A concern for that approach is that many people, especially college students, in our society are not receptive to facts presented in monologue form. The majority of people are much more receptive to absorbing, retaining, and repeating content that is in dialogue and story form.
“The word commonly translated ‘preach’ means to proclaim the gospel to unbelievers. It should be no surprise that Jesus taught through dialogue and questions. Studies by IBM and the UK Post Office show that people who learn by hearing alone retain just 10% of what they have learned after three months. People who learn by hearing and being shown experience retain 65%. It means the only person experiencing good learning in a sermon is the preacher!” (Total Church, pages 112-113).
A culture that needs to be engaged
– 42% of college students don’t read books
– 80% of US families did not buy or read a book in 2007
– 50% of books bought are not read to completion
– The average reader will read only 18 pages of a book
– Each day people in the US spend 4 hours watching TV and 3 hours listening to music
– The average American spends 80% of their non-working time in front of a screen
Reasons for story form teaching
• We are captivated by good stories. Why do you follow certain TV shows (The Office, Prison Break, The OC)?
• After hearing a story, it is easy to repeat
• People love hearing stories
• Everyone was raised and shaped by stories
• Stories have the power to get attention
• Community promotes story telling
• Story telling promotes community
• Storying is transferable
• Story telling invites other’s to tell their stories
• Story telling is welcoming