October 16, 2007
by: jovial_cynic
I attend a little church in Tumwater, Washington, where I serve as an elder. For the most part, my responsibilities include working with the deacons in their areas of ministry and making myself available for the congregation for personal matters. It's pretty low key -- we don't go around wearing robes or talking in the third-person or anything that. It's not a lot of work in the traditional sense, but it's a lot of responsibility, because the congregation looks to you as an authority on spiritual matters, and that's a scary place to be. However, our church community is small enough that it feels safe to fall and fail, because we seem to care about each other well enough.

This last Sunday, I had the opportunity to preach a sermon in the pastor's absence. I spent the previous week preparing and going over notes, and putting together a power-point presentation, and at the end, came up with this:

My sermon: (Streaming)
My sermon: (MP3 File)

It's about an hour long - the first 40 minutes or so is the actual sermon, the rest is an opportunity to respond, which our church does every week.

This whole experience has changed my perspective on the nature of preaching a bit, I think. I was asked how I liked doing it, and to be honest... as much as I enjoy and am comfortable with public speaking, I don't think I like the structure of preaching. There wasn't anything in that sermon that I couldn't have said over dinner... and I think I would haved enjoyed it more if it had been in a less formal and structured setting.

The bible talks about various gifts, among them are the gift of preaching/prophecy. They're sort of clumped together in the text, and as I think about it, the notion of a weekly scheduled prophetic message from God is really weird. Being scheduled, it seems forced and contrived. It doesn't seem natural. Preaching should emerge from a need, such that the scriptures can fulfill that need. Clockwork preaching is a bit like a prescription against general ailments: take one each week and you'll feel better. It's a hopeful, but generally ineffective treatment for something that may be of serious concern.

If you take the teaching approach to preaching, I can see weekly sermons as a lecture series, and that makes a little more sense to me... but I don't know that lectures are an effective way to deal with a text that applies directly to people's lives. It's not like a lecture on macro-economics. There's no need to sit among friends and expand on such a lecture, because the study of macro-economics isn't the basis of any sort of community. Scriptures, on the other hand, hold community as a premise to the entire subject, and communities don't need lectures - they need conversations.

Anyhow, if the need arose, I'd do it again. But if it were completely up to me, I'd use Sunday mornings as an opportunity for people to really experience community, where people could worship, share their stories and chat, perhaps over a large breakfast... and only preach when I was particularly moved to share the word of God with my people. But I don't think that would be every Sunday.
np category: theology


Carman said:
Thanks for the your recent comment on my blog. Love your perspective and your take on your recent "Preacher for a Day." It would be great to see what a congregation would be like of which you'd be the senior pastor. Sounds like it would be very relational with everybody having the opportunity to interact. You might grow so fast that you would become two, then three, four and more congregations in order to keep them to a size where they would still be relational with everyone having the opportunity share.
October 16, 2007

The Conservative Manifesto said:
Interesting to finally hear your voice!
October 22, 2007

jovial_cynic said:
Carman - thanks for your comment. However, I don't think I'd ever be a senior pastor, or head pastor, or whatever label. I don't feel called in that direction.

TCM - Yeah... probably more interesting to me than it is to you. I mean - it's always weird to hear oneself speak, I think. I haven't gotten used to my voice yet.

October 22, 2007

The Conservative Manifesto said:
"I haven't gotten used to my voice yet."

Haha. I don't think many people ever do.

October 22, 2007

LovedbyGod8 said:
Oh Jovial, you have a nice sounding voice, haha. Unfortunately, I can't listen to your whole sermon right now.
December 20, 2007

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