Call and Response

Pastor Daron CrossLife Blog

You’ll get this at CrossLife Church. Someone says, “God is good.” And you’ll see comments, or hear someone nearby, or read replies: “All the time.

I love this. For three reasons.

First, this “call and respond” method of communication is historical, traditional and very practical. It’s good. It has been tested over time. It works.

It inspires listeners to participate with interaction and not fall asleep when the topic of conversation is God. It engages everyone, compelling us to own the truth, speak it, and live it. By participating, you are saying, “I’m here. I get this. I want this. I’m moved by this. I want to share this with everyone. I believe this!

Coaches know how well it works for team unity and grit in locker room pep talks or in huddles on the field (and cheerleaders just get all giddy about it, “We say GO, you say FIGHT. Go! … Fight! Go! … Fight!”).

The military trains soldiers with it, as new recruits in cadence respond with gusto to the drill sergeant.

Rock stars performing live in concert inspire audiences with call and response. “Are you ready for a good time tonight? I can’t hear you!” [Crowd erupts in screams].

Rudy’s Country Store and Barbecue, a beloved local chain, welcomes first-timers by the cashier calling out, “We’ve got a rookie,” and the entire team of workers behind the counter yells, “Hey, rookie!

Call and response is all over the Bible, too.

God instructed his people how to tell the epic story of the plagues, passover and deliverance from slavery in Egypt with this method. “Say this then say that … Ask this then answer that.” (See Exodus 12:26, 13:14).

Throughout the 40 years of journeying through the wilderness, God’s spiritual leaders and God’s people the Israelites interact in call and respond communication. “The Levites shall recite to all the people of Israel in a loud voice … Then all the people shall say, ‘Amen’” (Deuteronomy 27:14,15). 

Call and response is classic and still contemporary, whether in an order of service for liturgical worship, or a spontaneous voice of approval from a worshiper.

When I’m preaching and someone in the congregation blurts out, “Amen!” or “Preach it, brother!” or “Praise the Lord!”—oooooooh goodness—that person makes my day. Because they’re awake, okay, but more than that. They’re taking in God’s Word. They’re owning it. And they’re so moved by it, they want to let everyone know.

You’ll find call and response all over the psalms, in the cries of the prophets, and even Jesus himself knew how it worked. He called out questions when teaching people and drew them into his message and his kingdom as they responded.

So, that’s the method, and why we like it. Tune in tomorrow when I’ll refute the accusation that “God is good … All the time” is shallow theology and fluffy feel-good inspiration.

Then, don’t miss the dramatic conclusion: how this helps you appreciate God at work during the coronavirus outbreak.

You might just find yourself saying it more often these days.

PRAYER: Dear God, you are good. And you are good all the time. I can’t always understand that, but I do believe it, and want to believe it even more beginning today. I’m listening. I agree. I want others to know it. Amen.

FURTHER MEDITATION: Go find someone. In your house. A neighbor. Text a friend. Say, “God is good.” Let it hang there. Seek their response. Thank them, then share this CrossWords meditation with them.