How do we know if we are interacting in the appropriate biblical balance with various people and groups? Well, what pattern can we discover by observing Jesus in the Gospels?
A study of 194 communication episodes in the gospels were analyzed in Sharpening the Focus of the Church (1975) by Gene Getz (see chapter 15). Here are some charts developed from the data in that study that provide valuable insights for examining the communication patterns in your own life.
The general breakdown by category:
|Group of Disciples||15.8%||29|
|Group of Scribes/Pharisees||15.5%||28|
|Group of Apostles||13.0%||24|
|Individual Sick People||11.9%||22|
|Group (Jews, Servants)||10.8%||20|
|Individuals (Not Disciples)||10.3%||19|
|Group (the Multitiude)||9.7%||18|
Some further distinctions can be found that are worth considering. In the first chart below, we see the balance of Jesus speaking with those Positive or Neutral-Negative towards Him, and on the next, the pattern Jesus showed in speaking to Individuals vs Groups.
The intense focus of Jesus on discipling a small group of followers is apparent when we see Jesus spending about one fourth of His direct communications with just twelve men. Beyond just the direct communications, His training of the twelve also included the time they spent observing Him interact with others. They were participants and observers, learning as much by example as by direct discussions.
It is interesting to consider how similarly Paul trained Timothy:
But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. -II Tim 3:10-12
Also like Jesus, Paul used both private and public opportunities to teach:
how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. -Acts 20:20-21