Thursday, April 26, 2007

Would Jesus Get an "A" in Preaching Practicum?

[Jesus] spoke in confusing riddles (parables) that evoked a spiritual search in the hearers. Nowhere does he give three-point devotional sermons that cover all the bases. His audience had to do all the hard work of filling in the blanks. In other words, they were not left passive but were activated in their spirits.

Alan Hirsch, in The Forgotten Ways

I read this right after reading Matthew 13's parables. I don't think Jesus would do well in a typical preaching class--"Good use of Scripture, but no resolution." One preaching professor's style would mark Jesus down because he doesn't help us know what his teachings look like practically.

But maybe Hirsch is right in that these parables are to provoke a search. And this activation of my spirit did happen, because I felt like more a person who is "ever hearing but never understanding...ever seeing but never perceiving." Reading these passages over and over you think you know it all, especially growing up in church. But it's precisely that attitude that can make you ever hearing but never grasping the implications. That's what I'm struggling with as I seek to understand the Kingdom parables: how do these parables shake our understanding and practice of mission and ministry? And we can't get it spoon-fed--takes all the fun out!


Jules said...

Speaking of spoon feeding, it reminded me of this article called Using Your Own Fork. What do you think?

Jess Man said...

Julie: Thanks for the post.
I think the author is right, but a traditional church is almost built so that there's an expectation (even a right?) to "be fed" by the pastoral leadership. We build a culture of passive recipients in congregational life.

I believe there needs to be a fundamental shift of strategy if we're serious about helping people "feed themselves." Personally, I think it has to happen in the context of close accountability relationships where regular Scripture feeding is an expectation, not an option.