Monological Q and A

My last post on Friday sparked a few comments regarding the possibilities of Q&A with congregations.  There is certainly more to be said for that.  I read an article by a friend wrestling with the biblical tension (for want of a better word), between the need for authoritative presentation of truth (preacher as herald), and the need for engaged relational disciple-making (conversational, relational, mentoring ministry).  We lose so much if we give up one for the other.

While you may want to continue that discussion, and I will return to it at some point, I’d like to address a related matter.  The preacher in a traditional preaching setting still needs to make listeners feel involved.  Pure monologue that leaves listeners feeling like observers of a pre-packaged presentation is less than what it could be.  How can we preach so listeners feel engaged and involved?  A few of many possibilities:

1. Relevant preaching – I suppose this is obvious, but listeners will engage more when a message is relevant to their lives.  That doesn’t mean a heavenly majestic text is trivialised to a silly practical level.  It does mean that the preacher has thought about how the text is relevant to these listeners on this occasion.  The world of the text is earthed in the realities of life.  Then listeners feel involved.

2. Rhetorical questions – Too many can start to sound false, but a well placed rhetorical question only expresses what the listener is thinking.  Their inner dialogue follows right along with the preacher, “yes, I just thought that, here’s my answer, what does the text say to me now?”  That inner dialogue requires skill from the preacher, but it turns monologue into something far richer.

3. Related to life wording – It’s not hard to change the wording of the main idea, and the main points, from historical description of the text (commentary title approach to outlining), to related to us wording (contemporary full sentence statements approach).  Obviously you go back to the text to support what you’re saying, but it drives the message into today, rather than simply offering an historical lecture followed by an applicational team talk in the final moments.

I’ll add three more suggestions tomorrow.  Feel free to pre-empt or offer your insight.

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One thought on “Monological Q and A

  1. I’ve also found that if I know the church well, I can find examples from their lives that will illustrate points in my sermon. Instead of crawling websites for stories or using a story from my own life, I can, with permission, use a story from the life of a person in the church to illustrate a point.

    Along with rhetorical questions, this shouldn’t be over used. I have only done this a few times when the story made a particularly strong connection with the point I was illustrating.

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