Jesus Never Made Speeches (Learning to Teach Like Jesus, pt. 7)

After three days, they found him in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
-Luke 2:46

Jesus never made speeches.  But when Christian leaders get up to teach, it is most always a speech they give.  We also call this a sermon, a talk, or an address.  You can actually get a doctorate in homiletics and be an expert on speechifying, in teaching the Bible.

Jesus did not teach through giving speeches, but we love to give and hear speeches, in order to teach or be taught.  If you go to almost any church, this is what we usually do.  But, it is not what Jesus did, nor what the Apostles did.

We kind of assume they did.  And we read the NT through our lense.  We impose our lifestyles, traditions and biases onto the text and see what is not there.

How would you like it if you found out that Jesus did not do sermon prep like we do and bring a sermon to people?

Some of the worst sermons you and I have ever heard were by preachers who did not prepare, but 'winged it'.  The reason for this is that to give a good speech, you do need to prepare.  They tried to give a compelling speech without preparing or getting ready and they failed.  Great speeches are thought out and written out and often memorized and rehearsed.

 You may be great at doing the speech thing and even earn your salary because you are good at it.  But Jesus did not teach by giving speeches.  When you give speeches, you are not teaching how Jesus taught.

You may love the Lord and love God's people.  You may be smart, wise and compassionate.  You have a true shepherd's heart.  And from all that, you teach.

But your teaching is speech-ing.  Monologues.  Your audience loves what you do, loves what you bring.

Jesus did not teach that way though.  You are doing something he did not do.  Why don't you think about being a pastor, being a teacher like how Jesus did it?

You don't have to wear a robe and sandals or grow a beard.  Not that there's anything wrong with doing those things.  But why not teach how Jesus taught, through dialogue: questions and answers.

The immediate objection by you, might be, "that won't work!"  You might think, 'chaotic', or 'out of control'.  'Open mic' at church?  "People come to church to worship and hear a teaching and not be questioned by the preacher!", is what you might say.

But that is how Jesus did it, so why don't we?  He listened to the people's questions and he asked questions.  He dialogued with people, and taught them that way.

Speeches or sermons are monologues.  Jesus dialogued.  Jesus taught conversationally.

Chapter seven of Horne's book, Teaching Techniques of Jesus, is entitled, His Conversations.

The four gospels contain over 100 instances of Jesus asking questions.  Think about it.  The person with the answers constantly asked questions of those he would teach.

The best sermons contain questions, not answers.  Questions make you think and are for you to learn.

The homework assignment for this chapter would be to read through the gospels and look at all the times Jesus asked questions and to notice how he taught: through dialogue, with questioning.

To me, it is mind blowing to compare how Jesus taught with how we teach.  Where are the questions and where is the dialogue?  And how come I don't see Jesus giving sermons like we do?

We imagine or fantasize that he was like us.  But we forget that Christianity is supposed to be about us being like him.


The painting above is: Giovanni Antonio Galli (Lo Spadarino), Christ Among the Doctors, c. 1620

Learning to teach Like Jesus series:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5