Saturday, August 15, 2020

Zoom and shorter sermons 3)

It has always been true that you can only measure the effectiveness of something by first having a clear definition of its purpose and outcomes.  If you see preaching, for example, as a piece of helpful Bible teaching then you can ask: Does this feed me?  And if it does it passes the test!  Certainly, this definition of preaching can work when it's seen and heard on Zoom.

As some of you may know I have tried to push for a wider understanding of authentic preaching. Of it being nothing less than the spiritual dynamic of Father, Son and Holy Spirit at work in the lives of speakers and hearers together.  So, my definition runs:  Christian preaching, at its best, is a biblical speaking//listening/ seeing/doing event that God empowers to form Christ-shaped people and communities (from 360 degree preaching).

It is this aspect of forming Christ-shaped people and communities that is under pressure from an individualized Zoom focus.  Our belonging together as God's people growing and learning from each other must never be lost. Preachers with a wider understanding of preaching will always seek to keep a communal emphasis. That after a zoom session hearers can never walk away thinking Christ's challenge is all about 'my life, my purpose, my future' rather than 'our life, our purpose, our future'. How is this word impacting my life with Christian brothers and sisters?  One of the happy surprises Carol and I have enjoyed is the weekly zoom meeting of our house-group (ever since the beginning of lockdown). We all agree this has given new opportunities not only to pray in depth for each other and the church but for growth in genuine friendship.  It has complemented the Sunday zoom worship by ensuring authentic togetherness.   Perhaps in bubbles like this we can experience more than ever what it means to grow as Christ shaped people and community. 

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