Find us on Google+

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Start a Conversation with Your Sermon

Preaching isn't very popular. At least not among the younger crowd. There's this idea that preaching is inextricably tied to declarative truth which doesn't leave any space for differences of opinion. Since one person stands up and says words for an extended period of time, that precludes anyone else from sharing what they're thinking during that same time. Especially if that one person is also the lead pastor of the church and is in charge of the rest of what happens there, then it can seem rooted in authoritarianism.

The problem that most young people have with this is that they don't want to be told what to do. This is more than just the rebellion of youth, it's a shift in thinking away from trust in a central authority and toward trust in a community of peers. Both the Tea Party movement and the Occupy movement are essentially anti-authoritarian. They want the community to decide what is best for the community.

So, in that climate, what role is there for preaching?

It can function as a conversation starter. If the tact of the preacher is to provide information and context and then leave the conclusion open, that allows the community to work through the implications. It's not that preaching is dead, just that preaching as if the pastor has the final say on the interpretation of God and scripture is not popular with younger people. And why should the preacher assume that they have the right interpretation? The major concepts of theology have been debated for millennia with no conclusion in sight. It's a better choice to invite people to conversation instead of inviting them to share your pre-drawn conclusions.

How can you create space for conversation? What sermons have been most successful for you? Which ones have flopped?

No comments: