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Live Blogging at Rob Bell’s Preaching Conference 2

posted by Scot McKnight

RobBell.jpg

Jeremy Bouma is live blogging this preaching conference with Pete Rollins and Shane Hipps …

Drop comments here if you’d like.



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T

posted July 6, 2009 at 11:48 am


I’m intrigued by the idea of making room for discussion and interaction after a sermon. It reminds me of the dynamic one typically sees in the NT as well as the basic format for the Alpha class (lecture, then discussions among smaller groups) with an anticipation towards dialog. I’d like to see more churches work toward recapturing this in actual practice. I think it would help new comers but also shift congregations away from being spectators and more of an interactive community.



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RJS

posted July 6, 2009 at 12:03 pm


T,
I agree, and this connects to the “Why go to church” thread. I think that we need to go to church for many reasons – but the sermon isn’t one of them. I always want to interrupt for interaction, and there is no time – during or after. The sermon is a performance – it is not intended to be a two-way communication.



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Rick

posted July 6, 2009 at 12:19 pm


RJS-
“but the sermon isn’t one of them”.
Are you saying not for teaching/preaching at all, or just not in the common format?



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RJS

posted July 6, 2009 at 12:39 pm


Rick,
Not in the common format.
I am not quite as old as Scot – but not exactly young either. I’ve been in church my entire life and heard more sermons than anyone can remember. I also have a habit of listening, studying, and learning.
The number of things I hear in a sermon these days that are new is quite small – and when there is something new, or a new insight, or something that doesn’t strike me as quite right, I would like to be able to enter into conversation over it. But the sermon is a performance. A pastor of even a moderate sized church cannot spare the time to interact one-on-one with members of the congregation over the details of a sermon. More importantly he needs to be working on the next one – not rehashing and clarifying the last one.
What is the purpose of a sermon?



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Lance

posted July 6, 2009 at 12:44 pm


“The sermon is a performance – it is not intended to be a two-way communication.”
And yet, it was during a sermon that Jesus stood up and yelled, “I am the Living Water! Drink from me!”
Whoa. To have been there.
I think the most powerful sermons have been ones allowing for interaction. Yet some of the most important would have been diluted by two-way communication. Stil . . .



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Rodney Reeves

posted July 6, 2009 at 12:44 pm


RJS,
Monologue is easier, both on the speaker AND the listeners. I try to preach “dialogically.” Sometimes it works; we get involved in some good discussions. Most of the time, my auditors are confused. Even after I’ve given them many opportunities to discuss, ask questions, offer opinions, their silence seems to indicate a polite, “no thanks. We’d rather sit here and listen.”



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Rick

posted July 6, 2009 at 1:01 pm


RJS-
“The number of things I hear in a sermon these days that are new is quite small”
So are sermons too oriented towards newer believers, or unbelievers (which can also back to the “why do you go to church” question).
“What is the purpose of a sermon?”
I see the sermon as something to help encourage and help equip.
Rodney-
“We’d rather sit here and listen.”
I am not sure that will be the case with younger generations. This brings to mind the article Scot recently linked to regarding recommended changes for universities, namely in the area of interaction with students- because that is what they have become accustomed to in today’s network connected world.
“The old-style lecture, with the professor standing at the podium in front of a large group of students, is still a fixture of university life on many campuses. It’s a model that is teacher-focused, one-way, one-size-fits-all and the student is isolated in the learning process. Yet the students, who have grown up in an interactive digital world, learn differently. Schooled on Google and Wikipedia, they want to inquire, not rely on the professor for a detailed roadmap. They want an animated conversation, not a lecture.”
http://blog.beliefnet.com/jesuscreed/2009/06/igens-google-and-the-future-of.html



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Travis Greene

posted July 6, 2009 at 1:31 pm


Shameless plug for my own church, where we do a much more dialogical sermon. Here’s the link to the podcasts, if anybody is interested.
http://www.emmausway.net/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=110
Our pastor usually uses the phrase “sermon dialogue” to describe what we do. It’s similar to a traditional sermon, in that Tim prepares the material beforehand based on the text we’re looking at that night. But he generally plans in space for interactions, reflections from the group, questions, etc. We are still a smallish church (40-80ish, depending on the time of year), so I’m not sure logistically how it would work with a larger congregation. But it works well for us.



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RJS

posted July 6, 2009 at 1:39 pm


Rick,
In my comment #2 I should have phrased the response a bit differently. Why do I go to church? – many reasons, but the sermon isn’t one of them for the reasons I gave in #4.
However, the preaching and teaching is often quite good for others and this may be an important part of the reason for many people to go to church.
Still, I would like to see a move away from sermon as performance. I would like to see a move to a more interactive form for most teaching.



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Karl

posted July 6, 2009 at 2:47 pm


RJS, is one reason you hear very little new in a sermon these days precisely the fact that you have heard so many sermons over a lifetime of churchgoing? Or are you saying that even when you were younger you didn’t learn from sermons?
I have been in church all of my 38 years, went to Christian school and college and am an avid reader and “armchair theologian.” So I resonate with feeling like it’s rare that a sermon offers something new, and the desire for dialogue. But I also have to acknowledge that a decent chunk (perhaps a minority but a substantial minority) of what I think I have learned, has been learned via some of the good pastoral teaching that I sat under as a youth and young adult.



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RJS

posted July 6, 2009 at 3:41 pm


Karl,
I think that you are right that a decent chunk is from past sermons, which is why I backtracked a bit in #9. It is also why I don’t really fault the sermon itself – or the preacher.



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Travis Greene

posted July 6, 2009 at 4:51 pm


RJS & Karl,
Yeah, but a teacher is supposed to bring out treasures old and new (Matthew 13:52). I’m 25 and am very rarely surprised or challenged by a sermon. In fact, I feel like I can fairly accurately predict where most of them are going within a minute or two. I find that doesn’t happen when:
1. Other people (besides the pastor) get to talk. Including people I might disagree with.
2. We’re addressing texts other than the usual suspects.
3. The level of discourse is slightly above my comfort level. I’d rather be confused than bored.



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John L

posted July 6, 2009 at 9:29 pm


I wonder if the “Sunday sermon” is becoming obsolete? With the emergence of high quality on-line preaching / teaching / theology discourse, of what value is physically proximate information transfer? I carry the world’s finest sermons with me in my pocket while I workout at the gym or on my morning walk. Why would I spend my time sitting in an audience every Sunday to hear a comparatively mediocre religious talk? In the last few weeks, I have absorbed well over ten hours of great spiritual monologues and conversations with people like Tozer, Yancey, and Fr. Rohr.
This is an exciting time of transition for the church. Instead of “attending” stage-centric activities, we can use our gathering time to really be present with each other. Pastors can be released to really pastor. Gifted teachers (who may or may not have pastoral gifts) can teach in smaller groups where true interactivity can take place.
We all have something to contribute, together.



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