How Would Jesus Teach in Church?

Monologue or Dialogue?

Think back to the church meetings you’ve attended in the past year. How did the usual method of teaching compare with the way Jesus taught? “Jesus seldom, if ever, monologued,” says Charles H. Kraft, a Fuller Seminary Professor. Instead, “He interacted.”

In his book, Communicating the Gospel God’s Way, Kraft writes, “The word ‘preach’ that is ordinarily used in English translations of [Mark 16:15] is only one way of communicating. Indeed, it is a form of communication that Jesus used very seldom.” 

I checked that out. What we call the “Sermon on the Mount,” as Matthew records it, is monologue. Jesus does most of the talking in John 13-16. But his teaching in those chapters is full of dialogue, conversational back-and-forth. Nearly 60 times the gospels say “Jesus [or he] asked.” Just about the same number of times gospel writers report that “Jesus [or he] answered.” His exchanges included both groups and individuals. Among others, Jesus interacted with John the Baptist, the twelve disciples, women, men, Jewish religious leaders, and foreigners.

Before coming as one of the pastors to Jacob’s Well Church in Chicago, Mark Brouwer, had traveled to coach other pastors. “As I visited churches during that period,” he says, “I discovered how strange it was to sit through a service as a passive observer. I came to believe including discussion times is more biblical and helpful to spiritual growth.”

What do you think? Why did Jesus mainly rely on teaching with dialogue rather than monologue? Why is his method so rarely used in the teaching/preaching that takes place on Sunday mornings today?