28 May 2010

Leadership Fridays: Receivers or Reproducers?

I remember standing there in a daze having totally lost my train of thought. I was guest teaching at a church in Colorado. The pastor of the church was one of the "founding fathers" of our association of churches and he was sitting in the front row. For nearly 40 years this man had been teaching the Bible and laboring in Christ's Great Commission. And Dennis is uber faithful and humble. I have never remotely sensed the man "pull rank" with anyone. If you let yourself notice it, his humility is staggering. On this day, the Holy Spirit rattled me with it to the point of disorientation.

While I was teaching, Dennis was faithfully taking notes.

Without question, Dennis had more to say on the passage I was teaching. He had wrestled with it more, lived with it's implications longer and taught through it many times himself. I can't imagine how there was even a shred of novelty in my youthful, naive and idealistic approach to the text.

And that is why I have a long way to grow; I wouldn't have been taking notes. Dennis did. He believed that he would encounter something for his benefit and for the benefit of others. He had a firm conviction that the Word of God wasn't powerless, it didn't return void - God worked as the church examined the Scriptures.

I thought of Dennis today as I read this from David Platt's Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream:
I often ask members of our church if they are receivers or reproducers of God's Word. Let me illustrate the difference. 
Imagine being in Sudan. You walk into a thatched hut with a small group of Sudanese church leaders, and you sit down to teach them God's Word. As soon as you start, you lose eye contact with all of them. No one is looking at you, and you hardly see their eyes open the rest of the time. The reason is because they're writing down every word you say. They come up to you afterward and say, "Teacher, we are going to take everything we have learned from God's Word, translate it into our languages, and teach it in our tribes." They were not listening to receive but to reproduce.
Now journey with me to a contemporary worship service in the United States. Some people have their Bibles open, while others don't have a Bible with them. A few people are taking notes, but for the most part they are passively sitting in the audience. While some are probably disengaged, others are intently focused on what the preacher is saying, listening to God's Word to hear how it applies to their lives. But the reality is, few are listening to reproduce. 
We are, by nature, receivers. Even if we have a desire to learn God's Word, we still listen from a default self-centered mind-set that is always asking, What can I get out of this? But as we have seen, this is unbiblical Christianity.  What if we changed the question whenever we gathered to learn God's Word? What if we began to think, How can I listen to his Word so that I am equipped to teach this Word to others?
This changes everything. All of a sudden the pen and paper come out. Note taking is not the measure of how committed we are to making disciples, but if we are hearing God's Word taught in order to teach others, then we want to get it down as best we can. When we realize we have the responsibility to teach the Word, it changes everything about how we hear the Word. 
It also changes who hears the Word. Now the Word that is being preached in a worship gathering or taught in a small-group setting is subsequently being translated into contexts and spheres of influence represented all across a church. God's Word is no longer being heard in a building; it is being multiplied throughout a community.
Additional Resources
An Interview with David Platt, author of "Radical"

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:26 PM

    I always take notes, but usually it's to keep me focused, not necessarily use for later. Though on occasion, I journal about what was said for days afterwards and it really hits home then. I should do that more often. I know, I know.... DUH, that's obvious!