Posts Tagged “preaching”

Most Sundays I turn up at a church somewhere and lead worship.  Most of the time the people there know I’m coming.

Leading worship is something I enjoy but it’s also something I feel the responsibility of.  Being the person responsible for bringing together corporate worship, often for a group of people you don’t know very well, can be difficult and challenging.

I remember going to the USA in October 2001 to meet with some people from the Presbyterian Church USA.  One of my friends had spent some time in New York and told us to go and meet with the people at Madison Ave and at 5th Avenue Presbyterian Churches.

Both have large congregations, but then they are in the middle of one of the busiest pieces of real estate on the planet.  When I asked ‘why are you busy?’ everyone in both churches we met said ‘the preaching’.

I know that church isn’t about entertainment but the difference between good preaching and poor preaching is enough to put me off a church.  I wonder how many of us realise the effect our words have on the people who hear?  And how our role affects us?  I also wonder how much training, time and practice those charged with saying something each week get?

I know that some weeks people have told me that the sermon has inspired them.  I also know that there are weeks when people have been left cold.  There have been times when I’ve edited something to soften it, to tone it down, because I was scared what people would think or say.

I think Rob Bell ‘gets it’.  Do you?

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In his blog today Seth Godin talks about what happens in between frames in comics.  We use our imagination to fill in the action we don’t see on paper.  We don’t need to know everything.  We can work it out for ourselves.

The same thing happens when we read a book.  We visualise.  We create a rich image based on the small amount of information we get from the book.  That’s why movies of our favourite books often don’t live up to our expectations because  they aren’t how we imagined they would look.

It is our nature to imagine and create and find links.

I wonder how many preachers have worked this out?  And why Jesus told parables without explaining them?

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Has the sermon had its day?  Is there still a place for preaching?  Jonny Baker explores preaching in a thought provoking piece he wrote about a year ago… Preaching: throwing a had-grenade in  fruit bowl

I have to say that I don’t think preaching is done yet, but then you might expect someone who stands at the front of a church most Sundays to say that.

My biggest complaint about lots of preaching is that it is mostly average at best.  I know it’s hard to hit the heights every week but it seems to me that most of the complaints I hear about preaching are really about quality.  Most of us enjoy listening to a captivating speaker for much longer than 10 or 15 minutes.  I regularly listen to Rob Bell talk on his podcast for an hour and I’m disappointed when it’s over.  And that has no visual aids.

So, here’s my plea to anyone who gets to stand up in front of any group of people to speak.  Look on that 15 minute slot as the most important 15 minute presentation of your life, without the associated stress obviously. Would that change how you approach it? Should you expect people to disagree with what you said? What would you like them to go home thinking about?

In Jonny’s article he say:

Mike Riddell suggests that ‘The purpose of the sermon is to unleash the power of scripture in a way that leads to personal and corporate encounter with God.’ (p119 God’s Home Page).  I like that.  I’d add that it should open up the possibility of transformation which maybe is implicit in his definition.  One other goal of preaching/teaching is education – enabling people to learn.

Is that what you get on a Sunday?  Is that what you set out to do on a Sunday?  What do you think about preaching?

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Lawrence Moore’s brilliant lectionary blog Disclosing New Worlds is back!  A superb resource for anyone who preaches or who wants to get some great insights and commentary on the weekly lectionary passages.

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