Continuing the journey into homechurch ….
THE BATTLE OVER PREACHING
I read once that every person needs, at least once or twice a week, a positive experience that fills up their need to be loved or appreciated and to engage in something significant. For most pastors that sense of personal fulfilment is associated with their one moment when all eyes are upon them, the Sunday morning preaching time. They give a lot of attention to that moment, working hard during the week to come up with a finely tuned word, full of wisdom and well developed logic, just enough humour to endear them to their congregation, and a passion and power of conviction that hopefully will, under the anointing of the Spirit of course, result, hopefully, in at least a mini revival, bodies scattered on the floor, catchers exhausted.
Most times they are happy to settle for a few positive, appreciative comments by the more spiritually astute, enough for the Pastor to wend his way home feeling fruitful and needed, a good shepherd with contented sheep.
Actually it was before we went homechurch that I noticed how discontent I was becoming with the weekly preaching routine. It came to a head one day when I had finished my ‘performance’ and we’d broken for coffee. I noticed that, although I’d preached well and the word had been received well, the moment we finished the conversation immediately turned to fishing, work, kids etc. But I was still on a high from the word. Why wasn’t everyone else buzzing with it? Well, the fault was not with the congregation. I had simply not engaged them in any interaction with the Word.
Not only that but on this afternoon there was less than 15 people there. It would have been far more productive to pull our chairs into a circle and throw the topic into the ring and let them, under the inspiration of the Spirit, teach themselves – with me just acting as a facilitator. Sure it may not have had the three points, the brilliant ending and altar call but maybe we ALL would have gone home buzzing with the experience of the Spirit speaking through EVERYONE and not just me. Maybe Paul’s picture of each person having a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation – all for the strengthening of the church – maybe that is actually a much more fruitful way of meeting. (1 Cor 14:19)
Anyway, that’s what we do now. Not that it’s always easy. The preacher in me often wants to dominate and has to be tamed. And the trained passivity in the rest of us is also pretty intransigent at times. But when the real thing happens we go home buzzing, each of us having been engaged in the process of being taught by the Spirit.
There is a place for preaching though and I’m not walking away from it. I sometimes really miss it. But it’s all about horses for courses and getting away from religiously doing church the way we’ve always done it. Too many church meetings centre on the performance of the preacher and the worship team. If they perform well you go home feeling good. If they don’t you don’t! It isn’t meant to be that way and I suggest that there is a lot of dying that has to happen in those ministries before we truly become the mature man that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 4, which is growing up into Christ as “the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
Personally I think that most Christians could go without hearing the weekly sermon for a couple of months without taking a nose dive! Especially if the time they spent listening to sermons was spent actively engaging themselves in spending purposefull visiting time with their ‘not-yet-believer’ friends. In fact what they would probably find is that every sermon they’ve ever heard would come alive inside them as they faced the challenge of being Christ in the market place instead of in the pew. Perhaps we preachers have to give them freedom to experiment. And perhaps when they do turn up for the next sermon they’ll have a disciple in tow – and a fairly well grounded one at that!
DEAD MAN WALKING (3) coming up