For 17 years, my preaching group has gathered annually to share resources and sermons in order to assist each other in the relentless responsibility of preaching. Through the years we have shared:
- lectionary-based sermons
- sermons for national holidays
- sermons on life transitions (singleness, divorce, giving birth, infertility, etc.)
- sermons for interfaith services
- sermons on “shame stories” from the Bible (our Brene Brown year)
- sermons for special services (Longest Night, weddings, funerals, etc.)
This year, we brought no sermons to share.
When colleagues talk about retiring or “leaving church” I sometimes hear them rue the loss of weekly preaching. Granted, some pastors hate to preach and it’s not their gift. But many of us LOVE to preach: the research, the stories, the crafting, the delivery, the pulpit. We love it. It is our terror, our power, our moment.
As churches change, sermons are changing too. Among the innovations that are making Harry Emerson Fosdick whirl in his grave are these:
- Dialogue sermons
- Video sermons
- Question-Answer sermons
- Theatrical sermons
- Sung sermons
Note: some of these ideas might sound laughable, but three points and a poem sounds fairly laughable to others.
Back to my preaching group: This year we invited Kellie Anderson Picallo to teach us about media savvy pastors and The 90 Second Sermon. Do yourselves a favor and check out Kellie’s work. Many of us (I’ll admit I’m one) have worked with her on media training and it has cracked open so many fresh ideas for sharing the message we want to get out there.
For preachers, that’s the point. We want to share messages of inspiration and resurrection and hope in hopeless days. If Pew is right and our parishioners are worshiping only once or twice a month, how can we reach them the rest of the time?
The day has come when my preaching colleagues are called to do more than merely share sermons with each other. We are called to figure out how to share God’s message beyond the pulpit.
*Quote by Kellie Anderson Picallo