9.21.2009

I Break For Puny Sermons

Some would suggest if you’re not uncomfortable preaching you’re not challenging your church. The equivalent statement, I suppose, for those who don’t preach would be if you’re not uncomfortable listening you’re not being challenged. Agree or disagree?

There are times, as a pastor, when you feel it necessary to say what needs to be said. In the Methodist church the Administrative Council is an appropriate place to address issues in the local church. I’ll confess my generalization; it’s based on my experiences. I’ll only speak from my experiences. For example, in my reports to AdBoard I do not restate everything we’ve done as a church. I’ll write it in a report for those who may not have been aware of activities, and for historical purposes. Please read the report. Instead, I would rather use that time to offer my pastoral perspective on what is happening (i.e. how our activities are relating to what our mission is, the involvement of church members and our looking to complete/generate goals for our congregation, etc). Let’s face it; a meeting is a meeting, and it’s full of people waiting to get out, go eat and relax. Wow! That sounds a lot like descriptions I’ve heard of people attending worship services.

Relatively speaking the worship hour(s) is a time when you have the church’s attention. Ministers:

* use your time there wisely,
* make it a sacred time
* be careful to avoid dumping your life, opinions, annoyances and grievances in that time rather than letting the life of Christ revive the church.

I’m sure there have been ministers who have not used that time in that way; and I’m sure you have the stories to tell!

So, back to when you know you’ve got to say something. If you haven’t been there, be ready. Something is going on in the church, or there are issues confronting your congregation you know should be given time for spiritual reflection and discernment for yourself and the church to move forward faithfully. My advice would be to do it! It’s part of our responsibility. Perhaps you won’t get all your usual hi-5s after service, but that’s not what it’s all about, right? What makes that type of sermon difficult is you have to be able/willing to not fall into what you’re addressing. You have to be able/willing to offer your perspective as the spiritual leader in a way that shows you’ve spent time in prayer and reflection in the process.

I had been thinking of my most difficult sermons. So, I compiled a short, unordered list (lest you try to make connections). I did not get the chance in every situation to say what I thought would benefit each church. Also, these titles don’t reflect an entire sermon, but more an issue that was stifling our church; I found (or would have found) ways to use the sermon time to offer the thoughts. Oh, and I’ve added a few more based on what I have heard from other people over the years (lest you try to make connections). Here are the titles (tongue in cheek) of those most difficult sermons; they represent real churches and real people. The names have not been changed because they were not innocent, and there was no need to insert names:

No, of course I would never ask you to be considerate of others.

Where did the church banners go, and who put them there?

Wow, you’re right; I never thought of it that way: your new pastor is not your old pastor.

The 12th commandment: Thou shalt criticize thine church sisters and brothers tremendously.

The advantages of letting your pastor do it all for you.

They’ve left the church; and they’ve stayed away…let’s move on.

Smackdown! The UMC Discipline vs the Bible

It’s only a song.


What has been the most difficult sermon for you to prepare? Or for our readers who are not in the business of sermon writing, what has been the most difficult sermon for you to hear/consider/accept/endure/etc?

Stay blessed…john

2 Responses :

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

John said...

Anon:
thanks. I appreciate your observations. When I started, it was just an idea to get more people connected to the church. Often, I would just put up short stuff. A lot of times in a hurry, etc.

It has become something I enjoy having a chance to do. Consequently, more time, quality time gets put in.

How long you been reading? Stay blessed...john