Roots (Teaching through Dialogue)

One of Jesus’ titles was ‘Teacher’ and it is for good reason, he was always ready to explain a concept or principle or something about the nature of God. And it was primarily done through dialogue, where people had access to Jesus to ask questions as well as try and answer Jesus’ questions.

The apostles carried this over into their ministry and much of their “preaching” was done through simple conversations with other people. They were always ready to share the gospel message every time a window of opportunity presented itself.

And among believers, the primary method of teaching was meeting in homes (typically around a meal) and engaging in conversations that helped people work through what it meant to be a disciple of Christ.

Even when at a large group meeting, Paul advises for there to be 2-3 speakers and that the  listeners should “weigh carefully what is taught” and the men should ask questions to help clarify the message.[1]

What about monologue public speaking?

The typical modern approach to teaching is through a sermon. While this can be a good way of unpacking a lot of good information seamlessly, it does little to prepare the listeners to engage in spiritual conversations throughout the week. The example we have of Jesus and the apostles is more of a conversational approach to preaching and teaching. There are a few examples of Jesus and the apostles giving a public address to people but it always begins or ends with dialogue.

Final Thought

Conversations, especially about personal beliefs, can get very messy sometimes. I completely understand why people prefer a sermon over engaging in conversation. Most sermons are well organized and eloquently presented while conversations can be disjointed and difficult to navigate through. With time and practice, though, a prepared Christian can begin following in the footsteps of Jesus and the apostles and engage people in conversations that both lead people to a saving knowledge of Christ as well as help believers figure out what it means to live out the Christian life.

[1]1 Corinthians 14:29-35

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