what sort of preaching/teaching ministry would you have? This is for you preacher-types, but more so for you pew-sitters like me.
I’m a teacher, not a “preacher.” Even when I preach, I preach like a teacher, not like a “preacher.” I don’t do jokes, I don’t do poems, I don’t have three rhyming or alliterative points, and if I had my druthers I wouldn’t offer an invitation. The word can well convict by itself; the word doesn’t need a preacher begging for response.
If I had it my way, and if I preached regularly (doubtful that I ever will after this post ;)), I would combine my Sunday morning class and the Sunday sermons. Seems to me our churches need more scripture, not more variety of scripture. Let me explain: check into any run-of-the-mill Church of Christ (perhaps others for that matter) and I’ll bet that what you’ll find is a class-offering that runs the canon from end to end. One series in the Sunday AM class(-es); another for the AM sermon; another for the PM sermon; and still another for Wednesday class(-es).
It’s one thing to be there every time so you’re not out of step with the flow of things; its another to be astute enough to remember where you left off in each of these classes/sermons. I’m particularly speaking to churches that go through books from start to finish. You topical-study folks have another thing going. I’m not a fan of that either, by the way, but that is another post.
Here’s what I’d prefer. I’d like the whole church (kids and adults alike) to live in a book for months at a time. I’d like to do the exegetical leg-work in a Sunday AM class (ideally over coffee with small group discussions from time to time). I’d like appropriate coordination between children’s classes and adult classes. Families ought to study the same text each week. The sermon ought to be proclamation of the message of the text of the week. The sermon should assume the exegetical detail, not rehash it. The sermon should trace out the theological message of the text and begin to apply it. The sermon should announce the message of the text and call the church into encounter with the text. Sunday evening small-groups can further discuss the implications of the text for our lives as disciples-in-community. It’d be great to discuss the text over a Sunday evening common meal.
Having done all of that, I’d love to devote Wednesday evenings (if we’ll keep them) wholly to prayer and worship. No classes. The last thing we need, given our hectic pace of life, is a mid-week lecture. We need prayer and worship in the middle of our week. We need middle-of-the-week peace.
We’d get a far way along in our grasp of the implications of the text this way. This arrangement can dispense with the silliness of an arbitrary 13-week cycle. Who came up with that anyway? We’d be able to really spend time with a text, inhabit the world of that text, and then enter into the world that text imagines for us. What’s the rush?
I’d like to think that churches could well follow the academic year for this kind of study (that’s the teacher in me speaking). One book from September-April. Think a church would know a book of scripture well in 7-8 months? You bet they would. And I venture it would be a better knowledge than what we would get with hop-scotch-through-the-canon. Summer gives flexibility for vacations, special series, and a host of creative activities. Special services and holidays throughout the year are always appropriate.
No doubt there are dozens of objections to this. Even so, I think it would well worth it.
Just me thinking.
Grace and peace.