Receivers vs reproducers of the Word: Which one are we?

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 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 to 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… When we realize we have the responsibility to teach the Word, it changes everything about how we hear the Word.

– Excerpt from Radical by David Platt