Interactive Preaching

I have been re-reading John Stott’s Between Two Worlds and benefiting afresh from this wise, compassionate servant of God. (If you don’t know Stott, you should. David Brooks gave an interesting take on Stott in the NY Times a few years ago which is as good as anything I’ve seen.)

Stott commends some kind of interaction between preacher and congregation, something more substantive than the seemingly obligatory ‘good sermon’ at the door. Over the years, off and on, I’ve encouraged sermon discussions following the preaching, but I’ve rarely led those discussions.

This past Sunday began for us a stretch during which I hope to host sermon discussions regularly through the summer. The value is already apparent.

Communication is always a tricky business. There is often a measure of distance between what a speaker says and what a hearer hears. My own children will often quote me on things that I swear I never ever said. But what I swear does not matter. What matters is what they hear. And it is the same in preaching. It does not matter what I say or what I intend to say. What is lasting is what people hear.

This Sunday I heard from some who stayed to discuss the sermon that the comfort intended by the sermon was not, or would not have been, heard by all. To know this saddens me. I’m bummed. And yet, this helps me. It helps me to aim at greater clarity and sensitivity in the future. And that is a good thing.

2 thoughts on “Interactive Preaching

  1. Carolynn

    I would like to point out that everyone takes what they need from a sermon. I know in our family we get exactly what we need from them. There have been times when we have had a bad week and looked at one another thinking Sunday is going to suck cause we know it will come up. Randy you are right on in my book and how ever you intend to come off the work of God is done in our life thank youCarolynn and Joel Lengyel

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