Brian Houston chats with John Dickson about why we teach the Bible

At Hillsong Conference’s daily segment called ‘Let’s Talk Church’, senior Pastor Brian Houston taught about what he called the “five-fold ministry gifts”: pastor, evangelist, teacher, prophet and apostle.


Walking around a section of Sydney’s Qudos Arena, Houston came across Sydney Anglican minister, author and head of Centre For Public Christianity, John Dickson. Crossing the denominational divide, Houston selected Dickson as his example of one who holds the “teaching” gift and asked him a few questions:

“…it’s the life of the local church living out the gospel of love, with the gospel on our lips – that is the best argument for the skeptic.”

Brian Houston: Talk to us about teaching. As a Bible teacher, what’s your main goal – what’s mostly in your heart that you want to accomplish when you teach people?

John Dickson: I want them to see the whole counsel of God, and see that focused on the person of Jesus Christ. The beautiful thing about expository preaching is that I don’t get to choose the bits I like and avoid the bits I don’t like. I just turn up the next passage, you know – my next passage that I preach on is in James chapter 5 and it’s that passage about praying for healing … “But I’m an Anglican! What am I going to do?” I don’t get to jump over that passage to a more comfortable passage; we just teach the Word of God – that is the role of a teacher.

And in a sense, guiding people to see in God’s Word the face of Christ, and then to take that and apply it so that the church itself becomes the best defense of the Gospel.

The reason I’m in a local church as well as the public stuff I do is precisely because I genuinely believe – as you’ve been saying – that the Church is the hope. It doesn’t matter how well I may write for the press or preach; it’s the life of the local church living out the gospel of love, with the gospel on our lips – that is the best argument for the skeptic.

So, that beats anything else I can do – because the arguments against the gospel collapse in the face of a real congregation loving and serving and teaching the gospel. And that’s my role; helping people do that.

Brian Houston: Where do you think us pastors today, in the world the way it is with everything that’s going on … you know I’ve been very big on not just preaching to people devotional life, in other words, their Sunday, but also preaching to their vocational life, their Monday, and making sure that our preaching and teaching is always setting up people to win in life – in their marriage, in their family, in their work and all those things. Would you feel that as an Anglican and as an expository preacher, that that’s also the heart – that you want to take it beyond people’s devotional lives? 

John Dickson: That was one of the key things about the protestant reformation – which celebrates its 500th anniversary this year – to see all of life as sacred. Martin Luther said that the milkman, the farmer, the leather worker, was doing sacred business, just as much as the Anglican priest preaching, and the goal of the teacher is to help people see all of their life as sacred. To lose this secular/sacred distinction; it’s ALL the Lord’s – so wherever your calling is, no matter what you’re doing, you can serve Christ. 

Brian Houston: Fantastic. Well done. Thanks for being here.

Top image: John Dickson chats with Brian Houston at Hillsong Conference. Photo: Steve Chong.