Sky Links, 7-7-13

Photo: Spacebridge by longobord CC 2.0

"Skylinks" are topics that other people wrote about, that got me thinking.

Tim Stevens wrote about grief this past week.  Grieving is a healing process in time.

There is a grieving process that heals us, but we may
still have a scar.  The person who has not done their "grief work" is not healed or healing and has an open wound.  That open wound hurts, might be infected, and can lead to premature death.

Last week, I wrote about Leonard Hjalmarson's post on preaching and growth.  The main point is that we only retain or remember 10-20% of a lecture, monologue, or talk.  Preaching is a tradition that is deeply embedded in today's, western church.  A very high percentage of self-identified Christians file into buildings that resemble class rooms or theaters and listen to a person give a talk or a lesson, sermon, or monologue.

Preachers or pastors who give sermons do it because they believe in it.  We equate church with sermons and the pastor or preacher.  It is also not uncommon for home groups or small groups to be mini churches, where one person does a monologue.

Preaching must have a place, because it is in the Bible.  Gary Goodell, in Permission Granted,
gives some ideas about sermons:

Being connected, not just consuming, is what changes people.  It is people walking through life together on the same journey...

...the Western concept of teaching, where the teaching is usually an address- a professional monologue geared at students in an academic setting removed from real life, has been proven to be the least effective learning tool.

...On the other hand, the Eastern teaching style is kinetic- the topic of discussion literally moves from person to person, and everyone is involved.  After such deliberation, consensus is built, a collective opinion emerges, and corporate action can follow where questions and interaction reign.  Over the ages, this has proven to be the most effective in changing opinions and values and, therefore, in changing people.  Even the Greek word that is often translated "preaching", is actually the New Testament word dialogizomia, which means, You'e got it:, dialogue between people!

Well then, you decide- what is the optimum form of learning?...

Remember, this could also mean an entire change in the building, the meeting time, the way you set up the chairs, and basically the whole format, as you create a new environment where people connect in order to learn.  This community style is geared to help people become, "doers of the Word" teaching them to not just hear, but to obey, to do everything Jesus taught us (see Matt. 28:20). 

Many feel that this pattern of learning is what the early Church  enjoyed best, as it was patterned after the synagogue as a house of discussion (see Acts 2:42).  However, when Gentiles brought their one-man-in-charge customs and lecterns, their meetings eventually became closed to real participation.  Only authorized clergy taught others to guard against heresies.

Gene Edwards, in his lighting-rod book, Beyond Radical, passionately reminds us through his research on weekly sermons that rather than being a New Testament pattern or tool, they date back to Aristotle as he taught on the subject of rhetoric (Greek: retorik...the art of the orator), and John Chrysosom in Antioch Syria, circa A.D. 400....

First-century Christian preaching was more characterized by being extemporaneous, spontaneous, and urgent...and it belonged to the entire Body of  believers, not a special class of men trained in Aristotle's concepts of oration.

I love what Steve Eastman wrote about Gary & Graham's book:
Perhaps the greatest paradigm breaking suggestion is the redeployment of pastors. They become trainers and enablers, encouraging others to share their insights from God. The trained become the next spiritual generation of trainers. On the rare occasions when pastors do preach, the talks can be interactive.

He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.
-Ephesians 4:11

What is kind of jarring is that pastors, as we know them today, especially the "senior pastor", "c.e.o pastor", are not found in the Bible, nor in the first century. In Ephesians 4:11, it is a plural term. I just read this from Gene Edwards:

The Pastor

Where in the NT do you find a man who preaches every Sunday, marries people, does funerals, and baptizes new converts?

Such a man is not in the NT, but he is the central figure of protestant Christianity.

How did the pastor idea get into Christianity? It came from Pope Gregory the great in 550 AD. The

term pastor appears nowhere in Christian literature before Gregory's book, on the "pastoral duties of the priest". The term pastor occurs once in the NT in Ephesians. The practical meaning of the word is unknown.
Gregory had a list of pastoral duties for priests including sprinkling babies and blessing
festivals. No such man existed in scripture.

Martin Luther came along a thousand years later and took Gregory's ideas about the pastoral duties of the priest and put then onto the protestant pastor, and gradually, the term pastor replaced the term priest in the English speaking world.

We Anglos carried this pastor idea, which Luther invented, to the ends of the earth and it is now Christianity. If we removed the present pastoral role from Christendom, there would be an almost total collapse of "church" worldwide. Yet the present pastoral practice has no scriptural grounds. Try to find this man in the first century. If we move away from the pastor being the center, we move beyond radical.

From Beyond Radical by Gene Edwards, p. 17-19