About preaching…

ThinkingSome random Monday morning thoughts about preaching…

Why does it feel like the sermon is the most important part of the Sunday morning church service?  How did it get elevated to the supreme position?  When did it happen?

Do we not see the potential downfall of entrusting this job to one person?

Don’t you think this priority we place on the preacher to interpret the Scriptures for a church family is ultimately leading to co-dependency and a lack of responsibility of the individual to pick up the Bible and study it on their own?

I’m not saying there isn’t a place for gifted people to teach, but sometimes I think we have made the stage an idol.

Is there a difference between a good sermon and a good speech?

Over the years, I’ve come to understand that sermon preparation is like writing a 15-page, college-level research paper every week.  But the “black cloud” of an unrelenting weekly deadline is more than tempered by the knowledge this project actually serves a purpose, other than getting a grade.

Speaking of grades, there is a subtle, uncomfortable awareness that I am being evaluated every Sunday.

It’s a humbling reality that my words, no matter how carefully and lovingly they have craftedand in spite of hours/days/years of diligent studycan be the source of pain or frustration to people on any given Sunday.

Knowing that some people reject me as a friend or even walk away from our church family because of something I say in a sermon, or because they might disagree with my interpretation of a text, is crushing.

We need less preaching and more participation in our weekly meetings.

I think if something is going to take pre-eminence in our weekly meetings, it should be communion, not preaching.

In youth ministry, I worked hard to make my lessons simple, true, to the point, creative, interesting and motivating.  As the Sunday morning dude, I always run the risk of spending my time making my sermons deep, thorough, theologically correct and time-sensitive.  What happened to me?

Generally, I can say just as muchin a more understandable wayin 23 minutes, than I can if I take 45-50 minutes to say it.  More is not better.

Any educator will tell you that monologue is the worst form of teaching.  People learn more when they participate in the learning process (dialogue, small groups, learning activities, etc…).  So, really, why do we make our traditional form of preaching so important?

Taking a year, or more, to preach through the book of Romans looks and sounds impressive.  I hope there has been some good because of it.  I hope there are people whose faith is deeper and obedience is more consistent because of something we studied.  Really.  I hope.

The truth is, nobody got more out of the study than me.  This leaves me more disappointed than satisfied.

In a culture where people attend church services irregularly, sermon series’ should probably be shorter, with more frequent on and off ramps.

Somebody really wise said this to me, after my sermon yesterday:  “You know, what you said in the last five minutes of your sermon was really, really good.  You should have cut the first 2o minutes and got right to the end.”  Ouch.

He was totally right.

Sermon prep this week should be interesting.


One thought on “About preaching…

  1. Mike, I know you studied and asked God for guidance in your preparation for the sermon. I’m also confident that you care deeply about every person in the room listening to the sermon.

    I’m glad the wise person really appreciated what you said in the last five minutes. What we don’t have input on is how the Holy Spirit used the first 20 minutes to speak to others in the room. In the few sermons that it was my privilege to present, I was often surprised by what some people took home from the sermon. They felt blessed and spoken to by what might not have been what I considered to be the main point. Way to go Holy Spirit! You are a spokesman but it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, comfort and inspire. I think that happens consistently at NP.

    I love you, brother. Keep preaching!

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