At the BibleFresh conference on preaching – here’s the online magazine – we discussed various aspects of preaching and how it can be refreshed in the UK. Over the next few days I’ll share a few of the thoughts coming out of that event.
Traditionally the sermon was considered by some to be the full extent of ministry, or at least the primary avenue of ministry. Today preachers are realizing more and more that the sermon is part of a larger package of ministry. So this makes me think of several ministry partners for the sermon:
1. Other sermons in your church. This isn’t cutting edge thinking to many of us, but some still don’t see the value of preaching in series and allowing a combination of messages over time to reinforce the message and impact.
2. Other ministries in your church. In recent years many churches have moved to having home groups instead of another midweek sermon. In many cases churches have tried to connect midweek content to Sunday’s sermon. Some continue this practice, others have found it to be more difficult than expected (in part because preachers didn’t preach with homegroup on their horizon, and in part because leading a homegroup takes a significant amount of skill which often is not trained in a church). But whatever your church is doing with “curriculum” for homegroups or other gatherings in the church, how can we as preachers think through how our sermons might actually be reinforcing and motivating what is happening in other ministries of the church. Too easily the sermon falls into an educative model in which it is the main avenue of information transfer, when actually it might better serve the church in respect to encouragement, motivation, challenge, conviction, vision casting, etc. It is worth pondering the interface between our preaching and the other ministries of the church.
3. Other ministries outside your church. It was mentioned that some preachers struggle with a sense that they cannot compete with the big event festivals people are attending. Again, if a significant proportion of the church go away for a Christian event or festival, would it be possible to take advantage of that rather than being intimidated? Could the church think through pre- and post- event preaching that reinforces the often life-changing crises that take place in these settings?
It is always much easier to just preach a single stand alone sermon, but what might help synergize the ministries of the church and beyond? Worth pondering, even if there are differences in every situation.