Friday, January 8, 2010

Follow up to Egos and Sermons

Greetings to all! I want to follow up my post from the other day about the modern sermon. Yes, it is true that my post was a bit inflammatory. For some reason, when I sit behind the computer to post on here, I get this urge to stir the pot. Not because I'm a jerk, but because I know in my own life that when someone challenges the way I think, it stretches my faith and causes me to grow in significant ways. The flip side to that is you can also come across as arrogant and unwilling to see other viewpoints. I hope and pray that will never be the case for me, or any ministry that I'm involved with.

At The Mission we've put a lot of thought into how we can be a community of faith that is inclusive and sensitive to the various traditions of the Church (universal). We want to challenge some of these traditions that have found a comfortable home in American Christianity. We think asking questions and bringing doubts and concerns to the surface is a significantly positive step in expanding our faith horizons. But, the challenge for me, The Mission, and for all of us really, is to do this in a way that radiates Christ's love and promotes His Kingdom. After all, if we can't get past our differences and seek common ground in Christ, we're left with a dysfunctional Body that will struggle to impact the world around us. That's simply unacceptable.

Now, as far as sermons go, my main point is that what we have today, and what was happening in the first Church, in my opinion is two totally different things. Preaching today has developed into an art of communication with seemingly little emphasis put on content. This can result in paying more attention to the craftsmanship of the words and the brilliance of the person doing the speaking, instead of pointing to Jesus. On the other hand, teaching with an emphasis to transform, through the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit, individuals by His Word is what I tend to personally lean towards. But, God is big. He's big enough to use sermons, cheesy christian songs, and even sunsets and beautiful landscapes to draw people to Him. Every person that follows Christ has his or her personal preference. So in the end, I cannot with certainty claim one way of expressing God's truth as better than another.

I guess I'm suspicious, and probably cynical, at how many pastors have become addicted to the allure of wanting to become "gifted communicators". Not gifted shepherds, but really good talkers. At a time when the need for His Church to be mobilized into action on behalf of those that are vulnerable, in places all over the world and in our own back yards, I tend to look at the obsession with preaching as inward focused and self-gratifying.

Yes, many of you have pointed out the important role the Apostles played in the New Testament by communicating truth in public forums. I could not agree more. Is that really the biblical model that led to where we're at today? To equate a Sunday morning 3 point sermon at a church down the street with Stephen's supernaturally inspired words from Acts 7, is not quite comparing apples to apples. It would be more like comparing an apple to all the apple orchards in the state of Washington.

There is a place for God to use those that He's gifted to be preachers to proclaim His truth. For those that God wills to speak His truth before people, I hope and pray that every word, expression, and story, will be used to point to our amazing God. I pray our words would not fall to the temptation to tickle ears, but would relentlessly call His Body into action and transformation.

1 comment:

  1. And this is where I really like Neil Cole's stuff... the importance of public space. Public worship and public teaching really intrigue me. We don't have anything like that today... I frequently wonder if there's a way to bring that back.