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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Let's imagine a creative future with God and each other together. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Heard any Good Sermons Lately?

As my wife is from Columbus, OH, on one of my first trips there I talked her into visiting First Congregational Church to look at a pulpit. She thought I was crazy. But it wasn't just any pulpit, it was the pulpit of this man: Washington Gladden. So we sneeked into a side door (the first of many times we would sneek into worship places), and I went up into the pulpit. It was nothing special: a few pencils, a couple of scraps of paper, and an old pew Bible. Even so, around 80 years before I got there, Washington Gladden was there. That was enough.

It's been my fortune to hear a lot of sermons over my life. I've even given a few sermons in my lifetime. I've heard sermons in houses of worship, in parks, in bars, in auditoriums, and once heard Billy Graham in the Metrodome in Minneapolis. I sat in the very last row on the back of the chair with my head hitting the nylon roof. Very interesting.  Can you see me? I'm off to the left...

There are many ways to deliver a sermon, and just as many ways to receive one. A sermon is a way that God interacts with our world through words, silence, and images so that we are free to participate in the world and in the life and being of God. (No pressure, preachers...)

A sermon--at least in the Christian tradition--does a lot of different things. It can teach you something new about God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit. It can convict you of your less-that-stellar moments. It can free you from crushing guilt and despair. A sermon can tell a story. A sermon can highlight the connections between God and the world in which we live. And that's just some of the content!

Of course, there are many ways to offer a sermon. You can stand and talk--the most common method. There's clips and YouTube movies, powerpoint slides, and the occasional object lesson.

And then there's the preachers...some are good at preaching. Some are not. (Usually with practice you do get better--usually.)

When I listen to a sermon I am not sure--at first--what I need, or even what I want to hear. I hope, by the end of the sermon, to have an inkling of the answers to those questions. If I do, it was probably a good sermon. If I don't...if I'm still wondering what I heard, well it still might have been a good sermon, but I didn't hear it. (Maybe it wasn't addressed to me? Who knows? It's possible I might have been distracted, especially during football season.)

In the end I am hoping to hear and see a way in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit that God frees me to participate in the world. That's a good sermon for me. What makes a good sermon for you?

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.


Anonymous said...

Yes, I have heard a very good sermon lately. It was from a pastor who had recently lost his wife. The main thought I got from the sermon was, "Get to know Jesus during the good times, so that you already know Him, when the bad times happen." We all have pivotal moments in our lives, and our relationship with Jesus determines how we deal with these moments. This really was a moving statement for me.

So a good sermon to me, is one that speaks to my needs at that particular time.

Scott Frederickson said...

Love that! Thank you for sharing (and keep that preacher on your radar screen...)