Wednesday, July 23, 2008

10 leading questions for preachers

Wsuriano' asked about new wine/new wineskins (2) - yes, I hope to post the paper eventually- and also about the questions I posed. So far, I have used these questions with Doctor of Ministry students and at pastors' conferences, and have relied on anecdotal responses (mostly positive) rather than conducting a more formal survey. For the record let me list all ten. They flow out of my book 360degree leadership.

How thin-blooded is my preaching?
Consider carefully the language and tone used, as well as the sermon content.
1. Individualistic. Look at the language. Is "you" always about the personal individual lives of hearers, and how often is "you" (plural) and "we" related to the community? Does the "kingdom of God feature in your language? Can a hearer walk away thinking that Christ's challenge in only about "my life, my purpose, my future"?
2. Aimed at head or heart but rarely at both. Note how much the preacher
a. Taught with textual references
b. Or told a story.
Identify where head and heart were balanced, to call the community to be holistically engaged?
3. Spineless theology. Was there a theology of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, either explicit or implicit. Where else do you share theological truth to undergird continuing Christian experience.
4. Generic application. Consider the illustrations and applications - did they seem to connect specifically with the context? In what ways did the personal relationship of preacher with church community and surrounding context make the sermon particular rather than general?
5. Avoids conflict. Were there issues of tension within the congregation that were addressed directly? Were there assumptions that everything in church is bound to be happy?
6. Low compliance. How much expectation of response came through this sermon? Did you perceive particular outcomes were prayed over and planned for?
7. Absence of process issues. Was there any connection with larger visions and strategic changes that involve the whole church congregation? Were there applications that earthed the message in God's bigger plan for the church community?
8. Solo role. Were other people involved in the sermon preparation and its delivery? Was there deliberate involvement of other organizational aspects of church life?
9. Cowardice. Were there points at which "punches seemed to be pulled" so that specific Scripture challenges were softened and missed?
10. Missionally defective. In what ways did the sermon challenge the church to live as missional people, expressing Christ's life and love in its witness before the world?
As I confessed earlier, these questions have tested me! Others have commented about failure, especially at points 1, 3, 5, 9 and 10. I know the questions themselves could be improved and I should value further feedback of any kind.

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