Archive for August, 2007

The ministry of the one or the many

The ministry of the one or the many


I read this little quote over at Dashhouse this morning. The highlights are mine.

 

The sermon, not some leadership philosophy or management scheme, remains the prime means of pastoral direction and hence the pastor’s paramount responsibility. The good sermon contains both script analysis and situation analysis. It is in the sermon that the pastor weaves together theo-dramatic truth and local knowledge. The sermon is the best frontal assault on imaginations held captive by secular stories that promise other ways to the good life. Most important, the sermon envisions ways for the local congregation to become a parable of the kingdom of God. It is the pastor’s/director’s vocation to help congregations hear (understand) and do (perform) God’s word in and for the present.

During my summer vacation I spent some time looking through the strongest themes in scripture. I see very few examples of anything resembling a sermon being preaching to those who have decided to follow Christ. We have examples of spoken messages in scripture but most of them are in a context where the people being preached to can respond, challenge and question.

In short I cannot find any biblical basis for the central role of the monologue sermon in church life. As the primary means of pastoral direction it seems to be dismal failure in our context outside the ministry of a few exceptional people. Millions of western Christians listen to sermons every week and remain unchanged. One might be able to blame the context but if preaching is not a biblically enshrined medium why continue to as we always have with such poor results?

I take exception to the idea that the “sermon is the best frontal assault on imaginations held captive by secular stories.” It implies that my best option for staying true to Christ is to listen to someone else talk to me about scripture. I think most people are far better served by just picking up a bible and reading it themselves. It isn’t like the people who make up church congregations today are 19th century illiterate farmers. It is dangerous for anyone to think they are the best agent to accomplish God’s purposes in the lives of a group of people.

I should take some time to reiterate that I believe that proclaiming the gospel is an essential part of church life. Preaching is one of many acceptable mediums. When I look at the balance of ministry in the New Testament it is heavily weighted towards individuals ministering to other individuals. I think our unquestioned adherence to the form of church birthed in the reformation hinders us in the 21st century.

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I dare you to watch this to the very end, if you can

I dare you to watch this to the very end, if you can


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