Wednesday, May 09, 2012

There must be a better way

Kevin DeYoung posted a tongue in cheek outline of What Sermon Prep Really Looks Like. Kevin paints a very believable picture of a man drawn in dozens of different directions but always with “the sermon” looming over him. He is trying to be funny, and it sort of is, but it really just shows the endless cycle of preparation, delivery and frustration repeated week after week by countless clergy.

What we see is a glimpse into the performance driven world of “preaching”. I get exactly what Kevin is talking about. I often finished my sermons late on Saturday night, was drained after I finished and almost always assumed that the sermon I just “preached” sucked after I was done. You want so badly to have the sermon be a home run and it almost never is. This pattern was repeated week after week. The entire weight of every weekly meeting is placed on the shoulders of one man and invariably they fail week after week because the task is impossible. Then we get surveys that show pastors are frustrated, burned out and quitting at an alarming pace and wonder what is wrong? Maybe they just need a Sabbatical? Or maybe the system they are in is what causes the burnout and failure?

God never intended for the gathering of the church to be a performance driven where it is seen as “succeeding” or “failing” based on how great the sermon was. A meeting where only one guy does all of the speaking is bound to leave the rest of the people disappointed and the pastor frustrated. There is a better way.

3 comments:

Aussie John said...

Arthur,

"There is a better way." Absolutely!

It took far too long for me to wake up that I was handcuffed to an imaginery absolute, by the demands of a most subtle denominational master: tradition!

Anonymous said...

and what way would that be?

jcordray said...

Hello!

I found the original post somewhat funny and somewhat sad as well.

While I totally understand all of the pressure of preaching regularly and being a pastor (I am the latter and I do the former), I don't understand how someone fails to deal with it regularly. I have been in full-time ministry for about 8 years and find preaching to be one of the most rewarding parts of my job. Does it take a lot of work? Absolutely! Any one sermon usually takes about ten to fifteen hours of work to prepare. Does it cause me great stress? Sure it does! But I think this is actually a good thing. My concern for the church is stressful but this concern is met, in part, by my efforts in the pulpit.

I don't understand fully some of the veiled objections to having preachers who preach and pastors who pastor. This is a very biblical model! Even the idea of pastors who are paid is well-supported by the Bible. Is the pastor the only one in the church who can and should preach? Of course not! Yet is the pastor/elder/leader responsible for being sure the church is taught properly? Yes, he is.

So I empathise with the original writer and all of the rest of us who are called to preach. Some of the rest of the veiled criticisms are lost on me, though...