Over the past few months I have been working with leaders who are interested in renewing preaching and worship within three congregations in Oak Lawn. They received a Lilly Grant (through the Calvin Institute of Worship) to investigate how there might be greater participation of the congregation in the planning and actions of worship. On taking the claim "we believe in the priesthood of all believers" really seriously! They have asked: "Wouldn't it be wonderful if more people could participate in sermon preparation and collaborate in its outcomes within worship and community life, Sundays through Saturdays?" Oh, yeah!
This coming weekend the congregations are taking a bold step. Doug Pagitt of Solomon's Porch, Minneapolis is coming to conduct a workshop all Saturday afternoon and early evening, followed by a joint Sunday service, when he will model his new way of preaching. Doug has written a provocative book: Preaching Reimagined, in which we calls for a different kind of preaching that helps create communities. He is unhappy with much traditional preaching - speaching he calls it - because he claims that it just doesn't build communities. Rather, he want to encourage "progressional dialogue," developing healthy relationships between presenter and listeners with open discussion during the sermon.
I have never met or seen Doug in action but will be involved on a panel with him, as well helping guide the Sunday congregation in their responses to his visit. Recently, I challenged the church not only to come to the whole weekend event, but to come with openness asking: "Are there things here we can learn from, and even some things we might do ourselves?"
It's going to be a bold weekend, especially for the traditional congregation (the largest Sunday crowd). I look forward to telling you something of the outcome. And I promise to go with openness myself!