Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Risk of Weekly Teaching--Teaching at Practice Speed (Part 12: Values & Practices)

How do we find the time for a meal, Bible Study, and Open Ministry in our Sunday services? If you've read the last few posts on our defining practices (Eating MealsTogether, Bible Study, and Open Ministry), you might be doing the math and trying to figure out how we fit this all in one hour on Sunday morning.

We don't. And we're better off because we do less.

Seriously. Your math skills are on the money. First, we meet for much three hours (and it's not in the morning). But even still, we don't do all of those practices every week. Even with a longer service, we don't have time to do it all every week. We do eat a meal every week--it's the first hour of the service--and then we alternate with our after meal ministry theme for the day. One week we do Bible Study and the next week is Open Ministry, then Bible Study…you get the idea.

But I thought you had to have a teaching every week for it to count as a church service!

Show me the verse that says that, because I've never read one. What's I have seen calls us to study the scripture. But a deep dive into the scripture every week isn't required. In fact, engaging in powerful, life challenging teaching every single week can actually be counterproductive.

Yes, I said counterproductive. And it's not about sermons versus interactive studies (see earlier post on that). The more powerful the content, the more this applies.

See, people can learn more and grow more when we teach them less often.

Typical pastors spend hours and hours crafting powerful sermons--sometimes as much as twenty hours a week! I used to do that myself, when I worked at more typical churches. And on Sunday they deliver a message that grips your heart, stirs your soul, and convinces you to change your life.

It's awesome.

Then, seven days later, while you're still working on changing, he brings up another area of your life and does that same thing. Now you have two deep changes your convicted about. Then another challenge the next week, and another, and another, week after week, year after year. It's like trying to drink from a furiously gushing fire hose.

  Truly changing something in your life takes a lot longer than seven days to accomplish. Time and emotional energy and serious persistence are required. People need to process the ideas fully. People need to practice multiple times to move from sloppy to smooth execution.

But every Sunday, members in a typical church are masterfully persuaded that if they really love God they need to change this new area, too. It's overwhelming and discouraging and after a while can make people numb to the need to change.

So churches end up with over-educated and under practiced Christians. (Sound familiar?) They know all about dozens of changes they could make it their lives, but they gave up implementing them all years ago. They no longer plan to change after most of the sermons they hear.

Instead, in our member-driven church, we deliberately slow down our teaching pace to give our members more time to process and implement. We usually have themes we stay with for a few months, to give us all time to practice properly. Remember, we believe in Growth Through Practice.

We call this teaching at practice speed.

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