should pastors provide answers or pose questions?

"Sermon Notes" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Sermon Notes” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

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I’ve posed this question before. Like with this cartoon “Find or Seek“.

It takes a certain amount of humility and courage to pose questions. Why? Because it opens up the mind to new possibilities.

I’ve been in Pastor Don’s situation though. And it is scary.

However, when you have a congregation who gets it, then it can be quite an exciting and enlightening adventure!

I wish more pastors new this.

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7 Responses

  1. Pat Pope says:

    The key is having a congregation that gets it. Many just get frustrated thinking it’s the pastor’s job to give them the answers, not ask more questions. For those folks, questions are a sign of weakness.

  2. The requirement for a pastor to always have the answers and to condense everything into an A+ sermon each Sunday takes a terrible psychological and spiritual toll on the pastor. He or she is distanced from life’s experience – everything that happens is fodder for the role of advisor and preacher. Ironically, the one people look to for insight is the one least capable of surrender and transformation. It’s a locked system.

  3. Wade says:

    I’d prefer a sermon in a church service to either be not there, or to ask questions. Asking questions and offering ideas and thoughts without necessarily coming to a conclusion (let alone a neat and tidy one) is how you get people to think about what has been said and to perhaps continue the discussion afterwards.

    But the congregation would have to be used to that. All congregations I have been in never expect a sermon that challenges them to think about a topic for themselves. The vanishingly few I experienced left people uncomfortable. They don’t come to church to be uncomfortable. They come to be “safe” and to be preached at rather than to. They come to socialise and to make small talk. Congregations don’t expect to spend time wrestling about deep theological questions with themselves and with others. A lot of churches put you into a “bible study” if you want to do that.

    And that’s what makes me wonder why even have the sermon at all…

  4. Pat Pope says:

    And some of the Bible studies are just fluff where more answers are provided with little wrestling with the text.

  5. R Vogel says:

    I like this a lot. One of the things that has always been a problem for me in church is the sermon. I’m not sure what a sermon is supposed to be but they often take the form of a ‘lesson,’ but one you are just supposed to take as delivered since there is not possibility of dialogue. Which leads me to wonder ‘who teaches the teacher?’ It seems to me asking questions at least challenges people to think about what they believe without playing into the false idol of certainty that you know the answers.

  6. Are the questions baited? Or do they offer an opportunity to genuinely explore?

    If the questions already have answers, then there’s no reason to ask and to even SAY that such a sermon is “asking the tough questions”

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