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What You Can’t Say at Church

A Paralysis of Fear.

Fear paralyzes the church today. When we propose including interactivity and conversation in preaching and teaching, church leaders say they’re fearful that people may say things that are doctrinally imperfect, or they may ask questions that might be difficult to answer, or they may simply wander off topic.

Well, guess what. These people are already engaging in these scary behaviors—outside of church. So, why not handle them inside the church where we have a chance to bring the Truth into the conversation?

Some leaders say the conversation takes place, not in the worship service, but in classes and small groups. That’s good.

But most people do not make it past the worship service. And the main worship service is prime time to power-up a message with conversation.

So, can interactivity and conversation work in a worship service?

A high-profile pastor at a large church told me he knows that conversation and participation lead to greater growth. “But that’s impossible when you have more than 150 people,” he said.

He’s mistaken. We regularly do it with thousands. It’s simply a matter of asking good questions and instructing people to talk with those near them.

Rather than droning for 30 or 40 minutes, preachers would be more effective if they’d offer some thoughts for a few minutes, then pose a good, Jesus-style question for people to discuss in pairs, then offer a few more thoughts, followed by a time for questions from the congregation.

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Thom Schultz is an eclectic author and the founder of Group Publishing and Lifetree Café. Holy Soup offers innovative approaches to ministry, and challenges the status quo of today’s church.