I have these past months regularly and faithfully settled myself in a pew and listened to my colleagues preach on Sundays rather than preaching myself.
As I began this excursion, I was made to promise that I wouldn't fold my arms, glare, and mentally challenge the preacher du jour to see if he could say something that would impress or move me.
I have mostly kept that promise.
And I admit to being the pastor who didn't always preach his best. I recall finding a note on my back door ( we lived next to the church) one Sunday after church. It was a note from a member telling me how pathetic my sermon was. He was half right even if inelegant about it.
Here are a few observations on the preaching I've heard lately:
- It was almost a joke to my wife and I but it took about two months of attending churches to actually hear the pastor of a church deliver a sermon. They were on vacation. They had guest preachers preaching. They had music or children's Sunday specials. They felt led to recount recent local church history. It was a Sunday special enough to not preach the Bible. Go figure.
- I'm not wedded to any particular style but I am wedded to hearing a portion or portions of Scripture preached. The frequency where I failed to find this in a sermon surprised me. I confess to not understanding the approach that substitutes a string of experiences for reading, explaining, and applying God's Word.
- I'd rather hear Brother Sedate drone on concerning a Biblical text that Brother Bombast jack up the decibels on his opinion but never let God speak through His Word. I thought the latter was the whole idea of a sermon - proclaiming God's Word.
- I rather like seeing a pastor who seems eager and excited to deliver a sermon.
- Thankfully, I've heard very little alliteration. Perhaps we are finally coming to our senses.
- I have yet to hear a sermon longer than thirty minutes that was worth the extra ten or fifteen minutes.
I bet if Southern Baptists started installing elaborate pulpits like the one pictured above they would be reminded that preaching is meant to be something serious, something impressive, something important.
That would probably be helpful.