“An exposition, no matter how true to the text, will die away ineffectively in a vacuum, if there is no possibility of a responsive echo from those who hear it.”

Karl Barth
I’ve recently been focusing my attention on the need to emphasize obedience within my house church. In leading any type of gathering, there is a tendency to devote all of our preparation and attention to the manner in which we deliver our content. In placing high efforts to package and deploy our words we often fail to lay out a framework that encourages, monitors and enables obedience in those we disciple. Instead of fostering an environment where dialogue can freely flow, we take the safe route and keep our eyes fixed on what we’ve prepared to share. We expect that if our exposition of the word is sound and well spoken, it should certainly elicit a courageous response. While there are some in our groups who may be of the fourth kind of soil, fertile and eager, many of those we serve passively swallow our content. In addition to a faithful exposition of scripture, we must understand the power of context. Although diligence in teaching and explaining the word of God is necessary, creating an environment that fosters digestion and obedience should have equal consideration.
I’ve been attempting to place a greater weight on obedience in my house church and I can see that this shift is not an easy one to make. I think by nature consumption is easier than application. Applying God’s word takes courage, time, and discipline. It’s not easy to bring God’s word full circle. I think that’s why many of us leaders don’t take the time to cultivate a structure that emphasizes this unpopular half.  I think settings that challenge sin or requires accountability don’t rank high among the masses. That’s why we unconsciously default to the easier half of packaging and deploying. It’s clean, it’s easy and no one gets uncomfortable.
Over the past few years I have been challenged to step back and wait for a response while doing discipleship or Bible studies. Instead of filling the void and silence with my own thoughts, jokes, examples and prepared teachings, I’ve taken a more conscious effort to let the awkwardness ride. To stop compensating for an inactive audience and to start letting the silents reveal our true state. It isn’t easy, but it’s definitely necessary in being a responsible leader, a leader who values the state of the disciple more than his/her popularity.
“Simply to live by the scriptures as you understand them. Simple, but revolutionary.”
A.W. Tozer
Related Post: The Cooking Class

One thought on “A Responsive Echo

  1. Profound. I reverted back to Jesus' explanation of the parable of the seed sower. Important enough to mention that this was the only parable Jesus decided to explain to His disciples. If the teacher/speaker/preacher, whomever it may be, acts as the farmer and scatters seed(words) in hopes that one may fall and bring about change. What if no seed fell anywhere that had potential to bring its intended purpose? That Sunday service would have been served better in bed or perhaps on the golf course. Luke's rendition of the parable had the best finishing narrative. The seed and its fruit are cultivated by PATIENCE and UNDERSTANDING. That understanding goes beyond the 45 minute sermon, as Jesse described prior. Patience, I believe, is developed by empirical evidence and trust in that what we have learned will manifest itself true when the time comes. I reference to when Jesus sends out the seventy disciples and they come back with reports of casting out demons. They heard and saw Jesus who gave them authority to do the same. Simple, yet profound. Every seed must be developed while hidden and downward creating a root that can withstand the thorns of this world. I second Jesse's thought in a different manner in that, can one powerpoint/keynote application point substantially change the course of ones discipleship?

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