Thursday, 22 June 2017

Is teaching in churches an unwanted throwback?

As we're moving into a post-Christian era and the church, at least in North American and the UK, is heading towards missional communities and outreach by social interaction, I'm wondering if strong, clear teaching is becoming a preserve of leaders and the old people, while the younger ones are all socially motivated to just eat together and enjoy a bit of worship every couple of weeks.

That was a long sentence.

We're making the trip, somewhat against my better judgement (hey, twice in one year) to our church groups annual camp together. What used to be a time of challenge, of inspiration and aspiration, amazement and above all great teaching, seems to have become a bunch of people telling us how to outreach using their testimonies as examples. Perhaps there is a certain Pauline precedent (maybe that's why people fell asleep on him!) but as I recall Paul taught a lot of much deeper theology than simply relating how he went to foreign synagogues and talked about Jesus.

I had the slightly bizarre experience of being complimented last night on helping someone with a Christian background and a need to become connected into a church family become connected into a church in another area. It was done in the context of evangelism, but it was not outreach - purely pastoral care and being a father.

Perhaps I'm becoming a post-outreach Christian?

I'm already moving towards the opinion that the 'great commission' was nothing of the kind, and was quite specifically aimed at the disciples there & then. It's only mentioned that way in 1 gospel, while in every other gospel Jesus commissions specific people to go out - if it's such a fundamental understanding surely at least a second writer would mention it? Certainly some people are called to be evangelists, but that seems a relatively uncommon calling. What about being ready to share the reason for our hope then? Yes, but that's NOTHING like being sent to outreach.

It seems I've been diverted from the original point.

Historically the church seems to have taught the uneducated, and a large part of what they needed to do was impart basic understanding, in so many ways, to those people. Now our society is well educated, able to access an enormous amount of information at will. Is the flip-side of a drift away from teaching people, a hope or even push for them to self-educate? I wonder how Christianity will shape up in the latter half of the 21st century - will looser relationships and a stronger social conscience become the hallmarks of this era, just like evangelism damp-squib was for the latter half of the 20th?


  1. To comment on your diversion: it's interesting not only that the great commission is mentioned in only one Gospel, but that evangelism/outreach (other than as a spiritual gift and maybe an implication or two) is not mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament that I can think of.

  2. In Colossians Paul tells them to pray for him so that the gospel may advance, rather than praying that they can share the gospel.

    There's a growing awareness that the more our group of churches evangelise, the less effective they seem and the smaller they get. Missional communities, 3DM and huddles, just making friends with people and having BBQs for them to come to - it doesn't seem to make any difference. The only reason I can see people wanting to give their lives to Jesus is if being a Christian actually makes a real and substantial difference, and living comfy lives and eating BBQ'd food like everyone else doesn't seem to cut the mustard.


Play nice - I will delete anything I don't want associated with this blog and I will delete anonymous comments.