Another reason I prefer dialog sermons

Tony Jones spoke at a convention hosted by Brite Divinity School in the fall of 2010.  He spoke about how Christians in the west have done a wonderful job at abdicating hermeneutical authority to pastors and minsters for generations.  This has resulted in a Christianity that is heavily dependent upon a "good" minister or pastor in order to help people "understand" the scripture and teachings of Christ.  Effectively leaving full grown adults stunted in spiritual maturity because we have not taught people how to interpret scripture or the message of Jesus for themselves.

I mean why take the time when the minster is going to do that during the sermon anyway?

I know there are many people who do take time with scripture each day and wrestle with it.  I do know there are people for whom the Christian label is vital to their existence.  But I also know many people for whom that is not the case.  And sometimes I find myself in the latter group rather than the former group.

So for those of us who find ourselves lapsing in our spiritual disciplines, I offer up this metaphor to consider. It has helped me. 

No one pays a gym membership to work with a personal trainer only to watch the personal trainer lift weights and run on the treadmill.  No one expects to get into shape by only watching the "expert", the one who went to a special school, break a sweat as free weights are lifted over their head.

And yet many of us when we go to church and engage in worship do just that.  

We watch the "experts" work through the scriptures with little input.

Dialogical sermons are an opportunity for the minister to invite the members of the congregation to do some working out.  And even if there is not a physical dialog taking place in the sermon, there are a number of ways to engage people in the sermon moment.

May clergy in our beloved UMC across the world embrace once again spiritual formation that requires people to "work out" rather than just allowing people to watch us work out.