So the times they are a-changin. Church membership is plummeting across the board with a few exceptions here and there but mainly we mainliners are going down. Now that has all kinds of stuff wrapped up in it, and not all of it bad. The days are gone most places when church membership was just another expected social marker like what car you drove or what neighborhood you lived in. Nowadays, I don't think many people come to church because it is the socially expected thing to do or to get some help climbing some ladder or because their mama told them to. This is not a bad thing for now I think people come because they are seekng. And sometimes anxious and often wanting a place to stay which they cannot describe.
Which begs the question: Why do people stay? Or not? Or to use a great Jesus' word, why do people 'abide' in a church? Or not?
I want to have a conversation about preaching that helps people not just stick around the church but abide in Christ. So I hope you will consider thinking and writing back about preaching that helps people abide and talking to others about this.
It turns out that all those folks who have been out there listening through the years have some profound insights into what helps them stay in Christ and what really doesn't. I dare us preachers to really ask people for feedback, not just about a particular sermon - "I enjoyed your message, pastor" being the usual response. Instead let's ask about the experience of being preached at week in and week out and what works and what doesn't and why they abide and how we invite more people to abide. I double dog dare us to humbly ask about our preaching.
Questions like what makes a sermon good for you? Do you ever take anything out the door? Can you get specific?
Questions like what really doesn't work? What drives you crazy? Can you get specific?
Questions like what do you wish I as your preacher knew?
Here's something fun I am doing - putting together ten commandments for preachers.
Back soon. Remember preachers, I double dog dare you. And pew-persons, get in here or you will be stuck with us as the old song says, just as we are! Peace, Martha