Saturday, October 3, 2009

Renewal in Oak Lawn

Before my memory goes soggy (!) I thought I should follow up the last posting. As Pastor Michael and church are working on a worship renewal project, they made my 360degree preaching book part of required reading for the group (of about 10 people) who help lead the project. Over the Summer they waded through much of my book, and this first public meeting, open to all in the church, was intended to start sharing a vision of worship renewal wider.

I was thrilled by the care that the group showed in dealing with issues. Their own Christian Reformed context has a very high view of Scripture and of preaching, but they emphasized how much Scripture itself endorses a variety of preaching styles. They also focused on culture change and spoke about implications of post-modernity that they were already encountering.

In the main meeting, we trod carefully while introducing the project. The last thing we wanted was heavy-footed presentation that seemed to have an imposed agenda. It really is a wide-open process. After agreeing the high place of preaching in Scripture and church history, we turned to reflect over its general state today. The whole meeting then discussed in groups around separate tables, and then shared findings with the whole group. Some of the issues which concern them about preaching today were:
*too much thin milk, not enough meat
*sometimes very didactic and dry
*often no clear challenges
*very poor follow-up - some outcome may be expected but no effort is spent
*seems irrelevant to daily life
*doesn't communicate well to the digital generation
*is too individual and doesn't address the whole community

True progress only occurs when there is realism. Facing facts honestly is vital for vision. The group will continue to work on what might happen next. I love their prayer and openness. I know they are concerned about increasing participation in sermon preparation in order to meet some of the issues above. It's going to take many weeks and months to think and pray through what this means. Perhaps I shall be able to post some progress later. I certainly hope so!

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