What Is Dialogue Preaching?

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What Is Dialogue Preaching?

Postby Paul » Tue Nov 23, 2010 5:33 pm

The climax of a traditional congregational service is the sermon. Its focus on our Christian character emphasizes that we worship God primarily by how we live our life in imitating Christ. With the sermon, a central figure address the congregation, talks at the people present, with no interaction; and thus, this form of address is referred to as a monologue.

In distinction to the monologue, dialogue preaching is any format where more than one central figure becomes involved in speaking to the congregation. For example, there may be two speakers, who alternate in giving a message. First one person addresses the congregation, while the second speaker sits near by. Then, the second person speaks, building on what has already been presented. Then, the first speaker again addresses the congregation, adding to what the second person set out. While the one person speaks, the other person is listening to the message, but also watching the congregation and discerning the Holy Spirit. Then, when the other person speaks, the main points stressed are refined by the interaction while the process goes on. The message strengthens and intensifies as the two speakers seem to be involved in a type of dialogue.

For another example, the central figure addressing the congregation may let it known that anyone can at any time ask a question or make a comment. This approach is especially common in the house church. However, although permitting these interruptions can create an exciting message and stimulate a very rich discussion, this format requires a skilled central speaker, who is also very knowledgeable on the designated topic. Therefore, to keep reasonable control over the message, conditions may have to be set at the beginning on the nature of how questions and comments can occur. Once again, the session will seem like a dialogue.

For another example, the main speaker at the service may receive discernment from the Holy Spirit on what a certain person or people in the congregation are thinking. The speaker then may let the congregation know of the discernment and ask those involved to identify themselves, perhaps even with standing up. The speaker can then interact with those identified, asking for more information from them, addressing their concerns specifically, or giving them the opportunity to comment on some aspect of the message.

Two of the above examples rely at least to some extent on the speaker discerning the congregation through the Holy Spirit. In a congregational environment, very often such discernment becomes enhanced, beyond what may be normal for a speaker otherwise.

Dialogue preaching may be defined as any combination of interactive address to a congregation. It is becoming more common in all churches, and I can personally testify that dialogue preaching makes church more exciting and relevant. However, as it is something new for most believers, to get started with dialogue preaching, church leaders should, perhaps, experiment with the format in special situations, such as home groups or evening services. And as with anything new in a church, the congregation should be prepared in advance, with explanations on what might come in the future, giving everyone time to think it over and discuss what is involved.
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