Church v.2020 – Ten Changes:
#7 More About Questions – Less About Answers
When compared with the American church of 2012, the future church (v.2020) will be a community that is more open to questions and less about providing black and white answers. This change in philosophy will be evidenced in many ways, including:
- Increased focus on both the content and style of Jesus’ teaching with a particular emphasis on parable. When teaching with parables Jesus invited his followers to enter into the story, and expected them to continue to actively struggle with it long after he stopped talking. In his latest book (The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction About Jesus - 2012), Dominic Crossan suggests that challenge parables, Jesus’ preferred style of parable, invite listeners to “permanent questioning” rather than easy or immediate answers (p. 111).
- Increased acceptance of “both/and” rather than “either/or” thinking, especially through embracing the many great paradoxes of the Christian faith. This type of thinking continually generates new questions even as it clarifies other quests for understanding.
- Teachers will move away from being the sage on the stage toward becoming a guide on the side. For many faith communities this will prove a rather radical change. While this should initially impact educational contexts it will necessarily move beyond them into all of congregational life. The old model presumes the teacher is the one who has knowledge and students sit and passively receive it, often through a lecture or formal presentation by the teacher. The new model that embraces shared approaches to active learning facilitated by the teacher that leverage the students’ prior knowledge and experiences in order to construct or reconstruct knowledge.
- Is valuing questions over answers a part of your congregation’s DNA? If so, explain what this looks like in various ministries within your congregation. If not, explore how you might implement such a systemic change and how it might change your congregation’s identity.
- When reviewing Jesus’ teaching as found in the four Gospels, how often does he teach through parable? Why do you think he relied so heavily on this type of teaching? What does Jesus’ example mean for your congregation, especially in its many educational endeavors?