Preach Magazine Issue 1 - Creativity and innovation in preaching - Page 31

SERIAL Often when we preach, the only feedback we get is the ‘Thanks for a lovely sermon’ comments at the door. In each issue of Preach, we will take you inside the mind of an anonymous congregant. We hope the insights will be a useful learning tool. Context: large evangelical church Service: an evening service Preacher: the new curate Sermon duration : 25 minutes Key passage: Ephesians 4:17–5:2 T he preacher is new to our church and I am keen for him to do well. He seems a little nervous and starts out speaking very fast. He settles down a bit eventually, but I find the pace fairly manic throughout and I find myself wishing he’d make time for some pauses and breathe a bit more. He makes a joke about how lucky we all are to listen to him, and it doesn’t sound quite sarcastic enough. Later he says we will struggle more with holiness than he does. It might just be me, but I prefer it when preachers put themselves down! The sermon begins with him talking about how Facebook is becoming more and more about self-improvement. He gives a few examples and I can think of lots more. Most of us here are under 40 and what he’s saying is connecting. He then says how rarely our efforts at selfimprovement work, and gives a couple of funny examples. He has my attention at this point. There’s now a longish section on how the Bible can be read like self-help advice and how it can therefore make us feel. It is a bit of a ramble and I think he can sense he’s losing us a bit, because he actually says he hopes he has our attention and asks us to stay with him. I begin to be a bit irritated at this point, and start an inner dialogue about how I shouldn’t be so critical, but on the other hand, I can’t help but listen with my brain engaged, and so on. I am distracting myself. I AM NOT AT ALL SURE PAUL WOULD AGREE WITH THE ARGUMENT THE PREACHER IS MAKING BASED ON HIS WORDS – THAT WE SHOULD LET OURSELVES OFF THE HOOK A BIT WITH TRYING TO BE HOLY BECAUSE GOD KNOWS WE CAN’T BE. LWPT8173 - Preach Magazine - Issue 1 v3.indd 31 31 Next he covers the broad sweep of how things have panned out between humanity and God. This is good stuff, and he has some thought-provoking insights about how we were designed and made to be able to be holy – in God’s image. It is a slightly different angle on a familiar theme. He makes a punchy statement – ‘God’s Spirit and holiness are part of our created identity,’ and leaves a slight pause. I am grateful for this – it gives me a chance to write it down, and I think I will come back to it later and mull it over. Now he hits the passage he’s preaching on, landing on a couple of verses in a bit of depth. But I don’t find the application he makes convincing; I am not at all sure Paul would agree with the argument the preacher is making based on his words – that we should let ourselves off the hook a bit with tryin