He who has ears, let him hear.
I'm helping to lead a new small group for Gateway College, though I've never claimed to be a teacher, and I don't have the spiritual giftings of one. So I'm having to rely on other methods in order to get the message across - if there is a message.
Coincidentally, I'm finding that this may not be too far off from Jesus' own method.
When speaking to Eric, the Gateway Central Campus Pastor, about the group he's helping me lead, I've been very adamant about wanting to keep the topics discussion based. I want to start a conversation, to allow others to give their own experiences, rather than give them an already prepared sermon/lesson. I don't want to make a list of points that direct them to only one answer and call it the truth. I don't want people to come in, give their opinions, and then essentially tell them they are wrong if they didn't come to the same conclusion as the message. Instead I want interaction, where people can feel like their input is actually significant, because it is.
So we start off with a general topic. We ask questions at the beginning and we get everyone's story. Then we look at the bible, what Jesus said, but not to point out anything specific. We just add him into the pot that's already mixing up our own experiences, our own thoughts, our own opinions.
This pot is a mess.
It might have good points, it might have bad points, but that's not what we're determining. We're not digging anything out of the pot or trying to make the perfect stew. We just want to let it sift.
There is no explanation.
There is no tidy wrap up.
There is just lingering thoughts.
And I feel like there's something important to this.
You see, Jesus told his disciples to speak in parables, and though most people might confuse a parable with a riddle, what he was really saying was to tell stories, and that's exactly what we're doing. We're asking questions. We're telling stories. And we are allowing the listener to engage and to come to a conclusion themselves. Because when you speak in parables, as Jesus says, it's those who have ears that will hear the message and understand.
Nowadays pastors have to break it all down. Tell it plainly. Give a straightforward answer and an easy way to remember it. They need to make it easy if christians are going to be able to "get it."
But do they?
Does it really affect them?
So in these stories we can hear other experiences we've never experienced. We can hear alternatives to our own story, Jesus being one of them, and if we feel in our own hearts we've been doing it wrong, then we try the alternative.
We answer questions with questions.
We reply story with story.
Maybe this was how Jesus meant for it to be. Because this allows for multiple interpretations. This allows people, if they are truly listening, to hear the message underneath, instead of just skimming something off the surface that they'll never put to good use. Here it gets to the heart. Stories have the power to get people to think, relate, and pull from. There's inspiration there, and conviction, maybe not blatantly, but it's there. It's there for those with ears to hear, and it compels us to seek for ourselves when we have questions, and to turn to God for guidance.
For those who tell the stories, you may be doing it right, and now you have some confirmation, and you may have helped someone else out with your story.
And the bible comes in, not to condemn, but to affirm or to allow for another perspective.
The spirit moves in these moments. God comes in at these times.
Is there anything wrong with the other way of teaching?
No. Sometimes people need the cookie cutter.
But for me, I like the way story works.
For those who have the ears to hear.
Mattias is an actor, writer, filmmaker, and editor currently living in Los Angeles, CA. He often writes about his observations about life, the human condition, spirituality, and relationships. He also enjoys writing about movies, pop culture, formula one, and current events. Often these writings are 'initial thoughts' and un-edited, as authentic as possible, and should be considered opinions. If you're interested in commenting on his work, or continuing the conversation, you should consider following him on Twitter or share an article on social media, where he would love to engage even further. Consider subscribing via RSS for more.