I think good teaching is overrated.
Not that it’s not good or necessary, just that it’s overrated. I guess what I mean is this. Sometimes people act like good teaching is all that’s really needed in the Christian life. Not that they really believe that, but they act like it. So, for example, their involvement with a church will be limited to just going to worship services, where they get their teaching and that’s enough. Because that’s all that’s important and all that’s needed. Good teaching.
But that’s not true. First of all the Christian life is much more about obeying than learning. Christ says if we love him we’ll obey his commands. And he instructs his disciples not just to teach people, but to teach them to obey everything he’s commanded. The past few talks at Perspectives have convinced me all the more how the Western church overemphasizes teaching over obeying and in that, we’re fundamentally missing something. Granted, it’s hard to obey without first learning. Which is why good teaching is needed. But I still think the emphasis is frequently in the wrong place.
But it’s more than that. I think it’s extremely difficult to obey without community. I just believe that Christianity is fundamentally about relationship, with God and with your neighbor. Those are the most important things. And I strongly believe that God’s design for fostering both relationships is through community via the church. I would say that the New Testament emphasizes community at least as much if not more than it does teaching. Teaching, and even obeying, is only good insofar as it fosters relationship, which was meant to take place through church community.
So it troubles me when people only consider good teaching, so that their involvement is limited to sermons and casual outside relationships. Or when good teaching is emphasized so much that it prevents someone from being able to really be a part of a church community. There has to be something wrong with that.
I don’t know, I may be too strong on this, and I’m still formulating my thoughts. Good teaching is obviously good and necessary. But I’m pretty convinced that a big problem nowadays is an overemphasis on teaching and individualism. I think we need to concentrate on obeying and community.
Everything happens better in community. Depending on yourself to be convicted and change from a sermon is less effective than accountability from a community. One shot evangelism deals where people hear an outreach sermon is less effective than people seeing Christ living and working through a community over time. And as Perspectives has made abundantly clear, missions almost requires community, teams of people working together, to be most effective.
But everyone’s a freelancer nowadays. Everyone has their own ministry. Everyone does their own thing. Everyone depends on themselves to grow. If something’s not right in their walk, it’s completely dependent on themselves – they have to do something all by themselves, maybe read a book, or listen to a tape, or something else they need to do alone. To get fellowship, they create it themselves. There’s no sense of coordination or cooperation as a body. I don’t mean everyone, but you know what I mean. It’s just a bunch of freelancers doing their own thing.
All I know is that these people are way stronger than I am. Because it’s really hard for me to grow all on my own. Whenever I feel like I’m not part of a spiritual community I get lonely, depressed, and regressive, and any progress I make is short lived. I need a community.
Uh, enough preaching. I’ll leave the rest to the John.