Thinking out loud! That’s what blogging is a lot of times. Maybe not for every blogger, but for a lot of us it is. That is good and bad. Good, because thinking out loud can help one wrestle with ideas, bring up questions, and also bring clarity and new insight. Bad, because not all thinking should be made public, and not all thinking has worked itself into appropriate ways of expressing what is in one’s head. Either way, I am someone who likes discussing, and that’s why I am so intrigued by this topic of dialogue that has been going on. Not just on my blog, but others as well. And there have been many comments to aid in this process.
This process, this thinking out loud has exposed a lot of my blindsides and own biases, that I must own. And it has forced me to re-think, and study more thoroughly on this issue. Some questions that I have raised for myself recently, are these, but not limited to only these:
Is my desire for dialogue in the preaching event a product of my place? Meaning, I preach on Wednesday night, in a group of about 150-200 students, in a small chapel. They have already been to church on Sunday, heard a sermon preached, and are now here.
Therefore, would I think differently then, if i were to have to preach on Sunday morning?
Do I have the luxury to dialogue on Wednesday night, because the Word is already being proclaimed on Sunday, in a more typical preaching format? In more of a proclamation event.
Do my perceived gifts lend myself more to the dialogue method, than that of preaching? While others are more gifted at proclamation.
What is a teaching pastor? And does that differ from a preaching pastor? Just curious since I know there are a lot of teaching pastors at big churches, as distinguished from the preaching pastor. For example, John Ortberg is teaching pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. Does that mean he does not preach then? There is no preaching pastor. Is there a difference?
Is there a time for everything? A time to preach? A time to teach? A time to proclaim? A time to dialogue?
Is the problem not really with how we teach/preach, etc., but more with us as a congregation? As hearers of the Word. What is the responsibility of the listener in this process? Maybe we are too concerned in trying to re-invent the wheel, without really looking at ourselves as participating in the proclamation event.
Maybe this is why many churches that I know, just like the one I grew up in, reserved Sunday morning for what I would call preaching, and then had a Wednesday night study, where the pastor would teach, discuss, and engage his or her listeners.
I think questions are good opportunities to push everyone into more serious theological reflection on certain issues. And this is definitely the case for me, as what began as some conversation, and questions, concerning my own pastoral task, has now turned into more serious reflection.
This afternoon I was reading some passages in The Barthian Revolt in Modern Theology: Theology Without Weapons, and came across this statement by the author, talking about Karl Barth.
This is why the movement of the Word as preaching was so crucial to his interpretation of the Word as threefold event. By the logic of his doctrine of the Word, it was only as Christian preaching that the Word remains ongoing. The Word becomes present as preaching in the same way that the Holy Spirit makes God present to us. That is, just as the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, the Word as preaching proceeds from revelation and scripture. Barth’s point was not that the revelatory and scriptural forms of the Word cannot be made present. Rather, just as the Father and Son are made present only through the movement of the Spirit, the Word as revelation and scripture are made present “in, with, and under” preaching and only through preaching.
By “preaching” Barth meant more than Sunday sermonizing or even the general ministerial work of pastors. Preaching included all forms of genuine Christian witness, including, “whatever we all ‘preach’ to ourselves in the quiet or our own rooms.” It included even the work of theologians, insofar as they understood and practiced theology in a ministry of the Word of God and therefore a form of preaching, he argued. (pp.78)