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Monday, June 25, 2012

Create Intersections, not Cul-de-sacs

Cul-de-sacs are intentional dead ends. They provide nowhere else to go, and that's the point. People who live in cul-de-sacs do so because there is no through traffic. It might be nice for a family with kids, but it's a terrible idea for preaching.

Cul-de-sac Sermons are intentional dead ends. They provided a pointed destination and then stop. There is no through traffic, only the people who already live there truly belong.

One destination for a sermon assumes that there is only one way to approach an issue or one way to answer a question. Not only is that prideful from the perspective of the preaching, it's also usually wrong. Jesus was the master of bringing up new alternatives and creative answers. Often his opponents would try to trap him in either/or dilemmas - his response was often both/and.

A dead end sermon means that the thoughts lead nowhere else. They close off options. A cul-de-sac is the end in itself rather than a means.

No one new belongs in a cul-de-sac, just the people who already live there. The cliché "Preaching to the choir" refers to this kind of sermon. They don't need to hear it, you don't need to say it, because you already think the same thing.

Intersection Sermons intentionally provide space for other options. Like a busy freeway interchange, an intersection sermon is full of possibilities. It's nearly impossible to stay in the same place after an intersection sermon, but the destination isn't predefined.

Many destinations are possible when you start from an intersection. In fact, there's no real limit on where you can go. You could even circle back around to where you started from. It's not the job of the preacher to define where people end up.

An intersection is a means to get somewhere else and a sermon serves the same purpose. It moves the congregation from where they are, but it doesn't define for them where they're going. Rather the end is defined by them, not the preacher. Jesus opened up a world of possibilities, offered a light yoke and an easy burden. But he never laid out the specific rules and regulations that defined the world of the Pharisees.

Everyone is welcome in an intersection. The locals, tourists and people who are lost on the road can all come through the intersection together. It gives a place to meet, space to move and possibilities for the future.

How can you make your sermons more like intersections and less like cul-de-sacs?

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