What makes preaching so tough? Jack Connell answered this question during the 1st session of our preaching workshop. He noted the challenges that preachers face (for example, the fact that another Sunday is always just around the corner & the fact that the congregation has access to 'superstar' preachers). On top of these challenges, a preacher must find a way to communicate with a 21st century congregation with a short attention span, a consumer mindset, and diminished confidence in authority. The preacher must have something for the seasoned Christian and at the same time the biblically illiterate. It's a tall task! Connell went on to point out 4 keys to effective preaching in this contemporary environment. Quality preaching must be biblical, relevant, creative & passionate. All in all, it was a pretty solid session. The only downside was that his discussion of what a 'biblical' sermon was left far more questions than answers. There was a lot of tension in some of his points that simply wasn't fleshed out.
The second speaker was Kristina LaCelle Peterson on the topic of preaching to/about women. It was about what I expected. She cautioned preachers to be thoughtful about the language they use in their preaching (are we all 'sons' of God or are there 'daughters' also, should we use the term 'mankind' or 'people'). She also called for balance in our metaphors of God. Do we always focus on God's masculine roles or do we make known the female metaphors as well? It was a decent reminder to think through our sermon language.
Michael Walters, Monday's final speaker, opened with a good question: If people listened to you preach for 4 Sundays in a row, what would they think of your view of Scripture? He challenged us that good pulpit preaching starts with a genuine and personal interaction with the text in the pastor's study. How do we SEE Scripture? Do we view it as merely a resource to preach from or is it the Word of God? How do we HEAR Scripture? Doesn't the 'inspiration' of Scripture imply not only that the writers were inspired, but that the Holy Spirit also inspires the hearers of the Word to interact with God through the text? How do we speak Scripture? Are we bold enough? His hour was filled with good questions and quotes. He'll be our speaker at Family Camp this year and I'm looking forward to that based on this session.