The typical Sunday morning lecture time wasn’t working as well as it might. So, Pastor Rick Bundschuh set out to try some different approaches to engage his congregation, ignite their faith, and extend his messages well beyond the Sunday morning hour.
Rick knew he’d be bucking centuries of methodological tradition–and challenging the self-identity of many preachers and teachers. “We pastors tell ourselves that our congregations will starve spiritually if we don’t unload the whole dump truck of ideas we’ve gathered,” he writes in his new book Moving Messages: Ideas That Will Revolutionize the Sunday Experience.” And since most people sit passively, sometimes nodding their heads, we assume that this big info dump is working out just fine.
“But frankly, we’re kidding ourselves,” he continues. “Not only is culture moving us all toward shorter attention spans, God’s design for how people learn works against the 30-minute monologue. The Sunday morning sermon is by and large an antique, malfunctioning mode of communication.”
Oh oh. He poked the sacred cow. Even before reading Bundschuh’s book, the status quo jumped onto social media to damn his efforts to be more effective. “Gross!” “Willy-nilly!” “Non-sensical!” Some suggested that he is defying the protocols of communication established by Jesus Christ himself.
Bundschuh takes issue with that. He writes: “Today, religious and secular experts recognize Jesus as a master communicator, yet the methods used in virtually every church on Sunday mornings bear little resemblance to his way of teaching. Jesus rarely taught by delivering long monologues.
“The Apostle Paul, having been schooled by the Pharisees, might have put people to sleep with his teaching, but Jesus, through his winsome and clever methods of communicating, never did.”
What are the Jesus-style communication methods that Bundschuh advocates? He says: “Jesus taught through interaction, dialogue, conversations with individuals and groups. He asked a lot of questions–the kind of sticky questions that get people thinking and talking.”
Bundschuh now uses such participative methods in his weekly messages. His book includes revealing–and sometimes funny–stories of introducing these practices in his teaching. He tells how he uses peer-to-peer interaction using thought-provoking questions, interactive use of objects, and incorporating members’ own stories into the message using what he calls the Red Chair.
Bundschuh demonstrates that his goal is not to uphold and defend a millennium of preaching methodology. Rather, his goal is to help his people explore and grasp God’s Word, remember it, and incorporate it into their everyday lives. And he’s willing to take some risks to become more effective.
What do you think? When it comes to communicating God’s messages today, is it best to stick with the status quo of the 30-minute monologue? Or is it time to take a new look at how Jesus communicated his truths?