On Sunday night I decided to do something rather simple. At the conclusion of the evening sermon, I asked our church family if they had any questions. This might sound revolutionary to some, but it just made sense to me.
Any good teacher knows that asking questions facilitates learning by increasing discussion. It keeps more people involved. It also helps folks pay attention. Additionally, it gives those who have studied the scripture (whoever is preaching, but others as well) the opportunity to answer those who are confused by it or have legitimate questions about it.
Anyway, prior to preaching, I told our church family that at the conclusion of the sermon I would ask if they had any questions. While preaching, I found myself curious about what would happen when I stopped and asked. Would there be some sort of outcry because this has not been done before?
After the sermon, I simply asked, "Do you have any questions or comments?" Everyone was quiet at first. After about 15 seconds, one man made a positive comment about the passage we had just studied. After that, no one said anything. We then concluded the gathering with a song and prayer.
Although there were no questions, I was encouraged by what happened. For one thing, no one rebelled or complained about my asking for questions. There was no negative reaction whatsoever. I did, however, receive a few positive comments about it. I'm hopeful that in the coming weeks, as our church family gets used to this, there will be several questions at the conclusion of each sermon. A question-and-answer time often cements in people's minds what the speaker is trying to convey.
This is a massive paradigm shift for me and for our church family. We have all come from the school of thought that says that the sermon is preached and that is the end of it. We all know (let's be honest) that this turns many people into passive listeners. I've heard hundreds of sermons in my life, but remember few of them. If I knew that I would have the opportunity to ask questions at the end, I think I would have been a more active listener.
In addition to simply asking, "Are there any questions?", I may also ask specific questions such as, "What did you think about _______ ?" or "What do you think was the most important truth to gain from this passage?" or "How do you think we should live out this passage in the life of the church and greater community?".
I'm looking forward to the interaction. I'm looking forward to learning from others through this.