A change I am Working On Currently

This is post number seven in a series I am writing about sermons. (You can find the series here) As I was leaving Ithaca, I decided that I would change how I prepared for sermons. Two stories to explain why. Story 1: Around 2009 I realised that I was not a great manager. While I […]

by bob

Aug 12, 2021

This is post number seven in a series I am writing about sermons. (You can find the series here)

As I was leaving Ithaca, I decided that I would change how I prepared for sermons. Two stories to explain why.

Story 1: Around 2009 I realised that I was not a great manager. While I love leading teams and building something keeping something running was not something I did well or found life-giving.

As you might imagine, this meant issues in the church were increasing, not decreasing. And while we did gather a group of people to begin working through some of them, you know the main action I took?

I spent more time in sermon preparation.

Now, in a typical week, I would spend a minimum of 20 hours. Amid this mini-crisis, I spent even more. Why? Because I was pretty good at it, and I received positive feedback. So, instead of doing something frustrating and challenging, I focused on doing something that I was good at and gave me positive feedback.

Story 2: In my penultimate year in Ithaca, I had a revelation. I hadn’t put effort into making disciples in a long time. And making disciples was why I got into ministry in the first place. The reason was simply that all my time and energy went into making Sunday morning as good as possible. Between sermon prep and overseeing the whole production, I didn’t have much time for anything else.

Now, like many pastors I knew, I said things like “discipleship happens in our small groups”. But it didn’t. My actions indicated that the sermon, the worship set, and the fellowship time on Sunday were our essential discipleship methods, but they were never intended to do that.

Like many people, I put a weight on the sermon that it isn’t built for.

So I shifted from crafting good Sunday presentations to focusing on sparking dialogue and helping people join in discussions. Recognising that I (or whoever happens to be teaching) is not the only person in the room who might have insight into whatever we are talking about.

I still need a good grasp on the topic, but it isn’t a performance…it is an invitation to engage in an ongoing discussion.

It has been a positive shift.

photo credit: Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

What about…

I grew up in Western New York and have started and led missional church planting efforts for a little over 30 years. As you might gather, I have opinions about the church, and I share some of them here.

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