Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XVIII
We who have been molded by Western thought may have to view the five fold passion for teaching from a different mindset. We believe teaching to be academic, mental, and intellectual. Educational degrees are essential for advancement up the hierarchal ladder. A pastor of a large congregation is expected to have a Doctor of Divinity degree and be able to orate high quality sermons and extensive theological exegeses.
The first century church embraced the Jewish Lamad method of teaching from the heart through experience. David, “a man of God’s own heart,” learned to experience God. The 12 disciples were not Jewish theologians, but only reported “what they had seen and heard” when “hanging out” with Jesus.
Westernized theologians do not trust experience over “correct” Biblical doctrine, so they minimize a believer’s experience that may look contrary to their personal theology. They are skeptical in trusting the leading of the Holy Spirit among laity, advocating trusting church leadership and their Biblical interpretation over the leading of the Holy Spirit. This mindset is contrary to the book of Acts where the apostles reported only “what they have seen and heard.”
In America it is important to “know” data about something rather than experience it. Students are tested and evaluated on facts and measurable data rather than on their experiences. As a teacher, I know field trips are far more effective than lecturing. “Experiencing” a lesson gives insights academics can’t, yet the church still teaches mainly through sermons which leaves no room for inquisitive questioning for understanding. It is a proven fact that a well prepared, practiced sermon can be highly entertaining but not very effective in impacting the lives of passive pew sitters.
As a public school teacher, I have changed my method of teaching according to the age of my students. You should do one method of teaching for each minute of a person’s age up to eighteen. Kindergarteners last five minutes or less. A senior focuses no longer than eighteen minutes. A good teacher changes approaches, styles, and methods of activity often during a class period to keep interest and productivity. Almost every sermon that I have heard in my fifty years was longer than eighteen minutes. As a pew sitter I have found myself losing concentration, focus, and even fighting sleep.
Sermons, as academic exercises, can be “about” forgiveness without anyone “experiencing” forgiveness. Peter learned forgiveness from Jesus after denying Him three times. Jesus allowed him to reaffirm his confession three times asking, “Do you love me?” Peter replied, “Yes, I love you.” Thomas never doubted again after Jesus let him experience touching his wounds and scars. The Samaritan women experienced Jesus as living water and being the messiah.
The Lamad method of experiencing, which has been aborted by Western intellects, must also be embraced if we are to understand the five fold as a living organism. The Church is still working on the teaching mindset.