Monday, August 20, 2007

5 Reasons for Sermon-Centric Worship

In the meta of my recent Feeding the Sheep post, commenter Simon asks a really good question: Why the sermon over other elements of our shared life? I have experienced this in practice for the last 20 years, and I admit that I really don't know why we elevate the sermon the way that we do. What is the reason for this?

First, rather cynically, I wonder if this general feeling of skepticism about the centrality of the sermon is not a testament to the ever-increasing superfluousness of evangelical preaching. Are we tempted to think the message of equal importance or less importance to corporate worship or to other elements of a worship service because we have taught for too long not the Gospel but "good advice" nobody really follows anyway?

Whatever the reasons for it, it's a question that should be asked. Especially today when even some who think "teaching" is important in worship would like to re-define teaching to mean sharing, dialogue, conversations, testimonies, dramatic re-creations, what-have-you.

But we do have, in the momentum-gaining gospel-driven church movement, a glorious recovery of cross-centered preaching. This is not to say that all preaching is good preaching, that all sermons are created equal. Certainly there are good preachers and bad preachers, just like there are good worship leaders and bad ones. There are more dynamic speakers and more dry ones. There are people who wield the Word more deftly and accurately and those who treat it like a dictionary or quote book. But none of this is to say that preaching in itself is passe. It is, as I said in my comments in that previous post, the most important element of the corporate gathering. And here are a few reasons why I believe this . . .

1. From the days of Moses delivering the Law through the prophetic era to the days of Jesus Christ and the apostles, the mode of bringing the Gospel to the gathering has been proclamational preaching. (By proclamational preaching, I mean one person (or a few persons) proclaiming God's Word to a gathering.) This is a direct approach, a reverent monologue, and it has been the way God's message has been delivered to believers and nonbelievers alike since the beginning of God's community.

2. While I believe worship in music (not to mention worship in the celebration of the sacraments) is indispensable to our worship gatherings, in seeing the whole and complete testimony of Scripture to get a sense of "importance," I see far more weight lent to teaching the Word than to group singing. Paul certainly spends far more time making sure the Church knows to keep its doctrine straight and to keep the Gospel central than he does encouraging them to sing together.

3. The "foolishness of preaching" has been singled out as the designated form by which people encounter the Gospel. 1 Corinthians 1:18-21:
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.


4. Faith comes by hearing the Word preached. Romans 10:14-17:
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?" Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.


5. I could expound on this subject much further, but the final reason for a message-driven worship service I would offer is this more Gospel-driven one: While, again, I believe corporate worship is indispensable to a worship service, it is the delivering of a message from the Word of the Lord that is (or at least, should be) most reflective of God-centeredness. See, in worship, we are bringing God our work, our voices, our efforts. There is nothing wrong with this. But it is our contribution to giving God glory. Hearing the Word properly and passionately taught is God's revelation of his own glory. Despite the human teacher -- and I'm aware of and wary of the idea itself of a preacher "speaking for God" -- proclamational preaching from Scripture is the way God speaks to us. And God's Word is far greater, much fuller, and infinitely more important than our words.

In short, Gospel-driven proclamational preaching should be central to the worship service for the same reason immersion in Scripture should be central to the life of worship in general.

More on preaching and teaching in the days to come . . .

16 comments:

Jen said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly. Especially #5. Thanks, Jared.

Gord said...

Great post, Jared. I agree with the many reasons you state for a pro-preaching position.

I would like to add my own two cents.

The main reason that convinces me that preaching is to be the central mode of proclamation for the gospel is the simple fact that Jesus commanded it.

"And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15 (NKJV)

In fact, he sent out the first twelve disciples for that very purpose.

"Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach," Mark 3:14 (NKJV)

Jesus even taught that this was his own purpose for coming.

"But He said to them, 'Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.'" Mark 1:38 (NKJV)

If this was the initial mode of proclamation that Jesus himself ascribed to, then why would we dispute the matter? Preaching always has, and always will be the central mode of proclaiming the gospel until Jesus returns.

"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." Matthew 24:24 (NKJV)

Jesus said this himself.

Thats my take on the topic. I hope you appreciate the comments.

Thanks.

Be sure to visit my blog at
www.anonymousdiscipleship.blogspot.com
Thanks again.

Jared said...

Gord, great additions! Thanks!

Brian said...

First, rather cynically, I wonder if this general feeling of skepticism about the centrality of the sermon is not a testament to the ever-increasing superfluousness of evangelical preaching.

I think this is a big part of it. And not just that, but I think very little preaching would actually into the Gospel-centered category. What I mostly hear is either pragmatic, how-to teaching or guilt-inducing, you should be doing so much better teaching. I very rarely hear the positive message of Christ intertwined with whatever passage happens to be on the chopping block for this Sunday.

I've actually began to think that the Lord's Supper should play the central role in our gathered worship. This seems to be a common element in the early church and what could be more Christ centered?

Just thinking out loud. good post!

simon said...

Jared, great to read your thoughts - thanks for taking the time after my little comment this morning.

There is a feeling in your post that the question concerning the relevance of preaching is relative to the importance of worship (i.e. which is more important, the message or worship)? Just to clarify, I understand that the way we are using the word "message" is as a synonym for "sermon", and that this discussion relates primarily to what we do when we gather together. Gathering together is, as I understand it, an essential element of our Christian life, but one element among many.

When I asked, "why do we elevate the sermon", it's not because I feel that worship is more important (as an element in our gatherings) - in fact, both delivering a sermon and singing songs of praise may be, (or may not be), components of authentic worship. I'm sure you would agree with this, reading your blog.

My question is more related to whether we can equate the "sermon" as we usually experience it today with biblical kerygma/preaching.

I thoroughly agree that preaching is not "passe", in fact I would go so far as to suggest that one of the reasons that churches are stagnating in the West is the lack of biblical preaching. The closest we usually get to biblical preaching is the sermon, but the sermon has the great disadvantage of taking place within the four walls of a religious building where the preacher is largely preaching to the converted.

Responding to your points:

1. The definition of "proclamational preaching to a gathering" meaning "proclaiming God's word to a gathering" is a bit circular. Proclaiming to a gathering is certainly A mode of communicating God's message in the Scriptures, but by no means the only mode. There are many examples of where proclamation took place as a monologue, but many examples of dialogue can also be found. You refer to the beginning of God's community (presumably meaning the Church): it is far from certain that the modern sermon was found in the practices of the earliest gatherings as we see them in the Scriptures. Monologue preaching in public to the unconverted, yes, but in gatherings of believers? The apostles' teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer (Ac 2:42) were key elements, but was the sermon?

2. No question that more weight is given to teaching than to singingin the NT (although we frequently get that balance wrong today).

3. The passage concerning the foolishness of preaching is very pertinent when it comes to preaching the message of Jesus Christ to the unconverted in the public arena. I believe it is a stretch to apply it to what we do on Sunday mornings, as hopefully most of those who attend a Christian gathering are not numbered among the "perishing" (although there will always be a few...)

4. Again, can we equate the verb "preaching" with the Sunday sermon in the Romans 10 passage? I understand this as the proclamation of the word of Christ to those who have not yet called on his name.

5. Am I extrapolating too much to see in this final point an assertion that sermon-centredness is necessarily God-centredness? I fear we are treading on shaky ground here. If ONLY Sunday talks were truly a revelation of God's glory - we would surely be a very different people if that were the case. For you are so right - a revelation of God's glory is what we DESPERATELY need in the church.

By the way, I love what you say at the end about immersion in Scripture being central to the life of worship.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

Jared said...

Simon, I am heading out the door right now, but wanted to let you know I will get to your comment tomorrow.
In the meantime, I would only suggest that the difference between our views may lay in the fact that it appears you believe that preaching the Gospel is for unbelievers only, and I believe it is for everyone, believers included, every day.

More later . . . :-)

Tom said...

Another good post, Jared. I might as well just put up a sign at my blog saying, "Don't bother coming in here. The cooking is much better down the road at Jared's blog."

I think one thing we're all seeing is that there would be more agreement on being sermon-centric in churches that desire to be gospel-centric *IF* it were more common for the sermons themselves to be gospel centered, God glorifying building blocks for gospel-centered, God glorifying living. So many sermons simply...aren't. We can preach a passage from a gospel, about Jesus, and miss preaching either the gospel or Jesus. And this isn't even uncommon. That doesn't do much good, so we try something else...

DLE said...

Jared,

To stir the pot a little, I'm going to make some counterpoints.

I'll start with your five points:

1. If anything, the "single deliverer of the message" has had terrible consequences in the modern Western Church, resulting in a passive laity and an exalted clergy. That's not what the Lord intended, yet it's a byproduct of the idea that one person delivers the goods. I also don't believe that's a very NT idea, seeing that one of the main distinctions between OT and NT proclamation was the difference in how the Holy Spirit worked. In the NT, the Holy Spirit indwells EVERYONE who believes. He doesn't select a few prophets. That's an important distinction, as is the indwelling as opposed the "falling on" type of empowerment we see in the OT. That reality makes the NT Church a collection of equals. In truth, we are to preach the Gospel to each other through our community living and daily interactions. Unfortunately, we've catered too much to this mega-preacher ideal that sets us up for cults of personality. Worse, should something happen to the lead preacher, the church suffers immensely. This is not the way it should be. Each one of us should be replaceable, including the preacher. Paul lays this out in 1 Cor 14: 29-32: "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets." Well, are we doing that? Or is it a one-man show?

2. Paul's selected "imbalance" between doctrine and singing may exist because everyone knows how to sing, yet everyone doesn't know all the doctrine, especially as the Lord was delivering doctrine as the Church grew. We have to remember that. I may not spend a lot of time reminding my kid to breathe, but I sure will give him plenty of instruction when it comes to riding a bicycle. That doesn't mean breathing is less important!

3. Our "foolish" preaching should always be accompanied by a practical expression of what we have learned or else it's simply knowledge that puffs up. We both know bloggers who are plenty Bible-smart, but who treat others terribly online and are perpetually pleased with themselves. It's also true that the majority of people in the West have heard the Gospel preached to them in any one of a hundred forms, but what they haven't seen is Christians actually daily living the Gospel. I would contend that all the preaching in the world will not reach the lost today if the Church doesn't live what it believes. People are starting to wake up to this truth. Faith may come from hearing the word of God, but faith with no action to back up that preaching is dead.

4. Paul writes this in 1st Cor. 14:26: "What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up." Are we doing those other things as well, or have we deprecated the rest in favor of the sermon? (And notice--in reference to my comments in #1 above--that "each one" brings those things, not just the preacher).

5. Proclamational preaching is NOT the only way God speaks to us. Have we forgotten the Holy Spirit lives in us and guides us? Jesus said, "And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." The Holy Spirit speaks and guides. John 16:13: "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come." Peter said in Acts 11:12a: "And the Spirit told me to go with them...." Paul again in Acts 20: "And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me." The Spirit spoke to Philip in Acts 8:29: "And the Spirit said to Philip, 'Go over and join this chariot.'" The NT is filled with the Holy Spirit speaking to the Church, through prophets, revelations, and all manner of spiritual gifts. This is the normal Church in operation. It is the promise to every believer to be filled with the Spirit. And the Spirit still speaks to believers every day.

Now, onto other issues:

A. How does preaching differ from teaching? Are they the same? Do they require different approaches?

B. Have we relied too much on preaching, while relegating other methods of building up the Body to the dustbin? What are those other means of building up the Body?

C. Now that each of us has a Bible available to us, does proclamational preaching take on a different emphasis? Remember, most people in Jesus' day (and even our own) were illiterate and had no access to the Scriptures, especially in Gentile nations. This made proclamational preaching the sole means by which most people received the Scriptures. When most people can read in the West today, how does that alter how we preach or teach?

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program...

Jared said...

Simon, I will do my best to respond to your thoughtful comments:

There is a feeling in your post that the question concerning the relevance of preaching is relative to the importance of worship (i.e. which is more important, the message or worship)?

I will admit that sense is present in my thinking. My hope is not to denigrate worship in music. In fact, I disagree with those who argue worship music is unnecessary.
But I do think our current church culture overemphasizes music to the detriment of Gospel-centered preaching.

Gathering together is, as I understand it, an essential element of our Christian life, but one element among many.

I can't argue with that.

The closest we usually get to biblical preaching is the sermon, but the sermon has the great disadvantage of taking place within the four walls of a religious building where the preacher is largely preaching to the converted.

I am not sure this is a disadvantage. Certainly Paul's readers were the converted within the churches.
I am not saying the only preaching that ever takes place should be within the church and only to believers. But I am speaking of teaching within the context of a worship service, so the constraints come from that context.

The definition of "proclamational preaching to a gathering" meaning "proclaiming God's word to a gathering" is a bit circular.

That is not exactly what I said. I only meant to explain what I mean by "proclamational preaching" in this context, so that readers would know what i meant by it. I am speaking of teaching done monologue-style to a gathering.
This is not to say that one cannot "preach the gospel" to an individual (or even to one's self, as I've done myself on numerous occasions). But my definition, because I'm talking about the context of a worship service, is meant to distinguish one type of sermon from other types of sermons (sharing of testimonies, Bible study discussions, etc).

Proclaiming to a gathering is certainly A mode of communicating God's message in the Scriptures, but by no means the only mode.

I am not suggesting otherwise.

There are many examples of where proclamation took place as a monologue, but many examples of dialogue can also be found.

I think dialogue in the context of a worship service is not preferable for one main reason:
1) It is generally impossible to have a gathering's dialogue satisfy the biblical need for gospel preaching. The gospel is not built on consensus but on proclamation: of Christ's work, of Christ's resurrection, of the coming of the kingdom, of grace and the cross.

(I have a post on "conversational preaching" planned for the near future, fyi.)

it is far from certain that the modern sermon was found in the practices of the earliest gatherings as we see them in the Scriptures.

We actually don't know all that much about how the early church operated in its infancy. What we have comes from Scripture. My understanding is that they fellowshipped in homes, breaking bread and praising God and sharing, and that they occasionally all gathered in larger meeting spaces to hear the word preached.

I would say this: Of all the modern church does, the thing that seems most in biblical form is a sermon. I see plenty of biblical examples of sermons, from Nehemiah to Acts.
If you only mean to say that our modern approaches to the worship service are different from the early church's, I'm not sure I disagree.

Monologue preaching in public to the unconverted, yes, but in gatherings of believers? The apostles' teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer (Ac 2:42) were key elements, but was the sermon?

How do you think those with the gifts of pastoring and teaching exercised those gifts?

Again, if you are arguing against a particular format, you may have to clarify. Are you saying one person should not speak for a certain amount of time in monologue fashion? How do we teach Scripture in our gatherings?
There seems to me ample evidence that Scripture was preached in message format both in the Bible and in the early stages of the Church.

The passage concerning the foolishness of preaching is very pertinent when it comes to preaching the message of Jesus Christ to the unconverted in the public arena. I believe it is a stretch to apply it to what we do on Sunday mornings

Here is where we probably most disagree.
I think the great failure of the Church's proclamation is precisely that it has relegated the Gospel to some entry-level "for lost people only" notion. I think the Gospel should be first and foremost not only on Sunday mornings but every day and for everybody. I know that I am certainly not "past" the Gospel.
And I do believe that I'm saved.

Again, can we equate the verb "preaching" with the Sunday sermon in the Romans 10 passage? I understand this as the proclamation of the word of Christ to those who have not yet called on his name.

I think that passage is about the proclaimed gospel of Jesus Christ inspiring faith in Christ, which is something we all need.

Am I extrapolating too much to see in this final point an assertion that sermon-centredness is necessarily God-centredness?

Yes, you are. I tried to make it clear that there is good preaching and bad preaching. You can get rid of music altogether and have someone preach for an hour, but that doesn't ipso facto make a service more God-centered.

I tried to explain what I meant by that last point, and it is that in music we proclaim God's glory, but in preaching of the Word, God proclaims His glory. I find God's proclamation of his own glory more theocentric than our singing.

If ONLY Sunday talks were truly a revelation of God's glory - we would surely be a very different people if that were the case.

I completely agree. If you are saying that the state of evangelical preaching is poor, you are -- ahem :-) -- preaching to the choir.
As I will try to respond to Dan next, I do not think the abuse or failure of preaching in the current church is preaching's fault.

I hope this helps to clarify. Thanks again for your comments!

Jared said...

Dan, thanks for your comment as well. I will do my best to respond as directly as I can.

If anything, the "single deliverer of the message" has had terrible consequences in the modern Western Church, resulting in a passive laity and an exalted clergy.

I think this problem has more to do with legalism, moralism, perverted fundamentalism, ego, and the rise of consumer-driven churches with type-a pastorpreneurs than with the biblical mode of preaching.
In short, I am wary of denying the validity of something based on abuses, even rampant ones. This is the same reason I eventually rejected cessationism.

That's not what the Lord intended, yet it's a byproduct of the idea that one person delivers the goods.

Do you think people are gifted in different ways? I think those gifted to teach should teach, and there shouldn't be a problem with those people "delivering the goods," provided they can be trusted to do so humbly and soundly.

That reality makes the NT Church a collection of equals.

I agree with this. But I do think we ought to take account the different roles and the very biblical idea of submission to authority.

In truth, we are to preach the Gospel to each other through our community living and daily interactions.

Yes, of course. The context of this post of mine is the worship service. I am nowhere suggesting the only preaching ever to be done is by one designated person on a Sunday morning.

Unfortunately, we've catered too much to this mega-preacher ideal that sets us up for cults of personality. Worse, should something happen to the lead preacher, the church suffers immensely.

I agree with this also. I've seen it happen, and I fear this imminent reality in the next phase in megachurchianity -- the satellite church movement. This franchising of churches, with preaching broadcast to congregations via video is just more McChurching.

I think this is a testimony of the values and the cultural compromise of the Church, not any deficiency in truly biblical, truly gospel-driven preaching.

This is not the way it should be. Each one of us should be replaceable, including the preacher.

I agree. You are arguing against the cult of personality, and I am with you on that.
I don't think it's an argument against what I'm arguing for in this post -- the centrality of biblical preaching in a worship service.

Paul lays this out in 1 Cor 14: 29-32: "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets." Well, are we doing that? Or is it a one-man show?

It would be great if the state of evangelicalism allowed such a free-flowing expression of the spiritual gifts. We cannot even sustain authentic corporate worship and real biblical preaching. Do you honestly think switching formats to sharing of tongues and prophecies is a workable transition at this time?
In a time when biblical illiteracy is epidemic, I do not see the current value in opening up the platform to anyone who "has a word from the Lord." At the beginning of your comments you cited the "one man show" as the reason for the cult of celebrity; with the same logic, I would cite this "every man's show" as the reason for the rampant heresy and emotional chaos in the charismatic church.

I actually think what Paul is talking about makes sense today in the context of fellowship, of group study, etc. In the context of a worship gathering, I think a recovery of the centuries-old traditional mode -- congregational worship, proclamational preaching -- is still ideal.

Paul's selected "imbalance" between doctrine and singing may exist because everyone knows how to sing, yet everyone doesn't know all the doctrine, especially as the Lord was delivering doctrine as the Church grew.

This is an interesting point, but mine is that what Paul is instructing is "how to live as the church." I find it sort of odd to suggest the really important stuff is the stuff he doesn't mention much. I think the important stuff -- the gospel of grace -- is the same stuff he's practically shouting on every page.

Our "foolish" preaching should always be accompanied by a practical expression of what we have learned or else it's simply knowledge that puffs up.

I don't disagree with this. I preach against this danger all the time myself. Just last Sunday night I made this point about "theology."
I don't think this is an argument against preaching any more than drunkenness is an argument against taking communion.

The danger of idolatry is present everywhere and in everything, even things "spiritual."

the majority of people in the West have heard the Gospel preached to them in any one of a hundred forms, but what they haven't seen is Christians actually daily living the Gospel. I would contend that all the preaching in the world will not reach the lost today if the Church doesn't live what it believes.

I'm not sure why you'd think I'd disagree with this.
The point of this post is NOT "all we need is preaching." It is about what we do in our worship gatherings.
I am absolutely not arguing for hypocritical, shallow, or hollow preaching.

Paul writes this in 1st Cor. 14:26: "What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up." Are we doing those other things as well, or have we deprecated the rest in favor of the sermon?

I believe this is in the context of a "home group" meeting to break bread and fellowship. I do not see how this would be feasible when the entire church in an area would gather (the Jerusalem church itself would number in the thousands).
In addition, if you're saying every person participates, how do you factor in Paul saying he doesn't allow women to speak in church?

Proclamational preaching is NOT the only way God speaks to us.

I have nowhere said it is. Please do not argue against things I haven't said and don't believe.

How does preaching differ from teaching?

I think it depends on the context. In the context of a worship service, I do not think they are very different. In the context of a small group, I would think various forms of teaching would be different (and yet the gospel could still be proclaimed that way). Moreover, in the context of our daily lives, being salt and light, we "preach the gospel" with our actions and our spirits.

Have we relied too much on preaching

No, I think we have relied too much on emotionalism and self-help. In worship and in teaching, we have relied too much on consumer-driven entertainment. I don't think this speaks against the modes but against the execution of them.

Now that each of us has a Bible available to us, does proclamational preaching take on a different emphasis?

I think it requires more careful explication (given that with greater access comes a great diversity of opinion), and I think it requires a concetrated effort to keep the gospel central to our preaching.

Remember, most people in Jesus' day (and even our own) were illiterate and had no access to the Scriptures

And yet in the days before people could hold a Bible in their hands, Scripture was more revered, more cherished, more committed to memory.

When most people can read in the West today, how does that alter how we preach or teach?

I think with greater accessibility and convenience comes a taking of the Word of God for granted. Surely one great responsibility in proclamational preaching today is the continued reverence for the Word and the insistence upon its riches and upon the glory of God within its proclamation.

Lee Anne said...

. I think it was commenter Brian who mentioned that he is growing to believe that the Lord's Supper should be the central focus of our worship. I would agree.

In worship, God is the initiator and we are the responders. He calls us to come and gather together in his name. Gospel-centered preaching is certainly a part of worship. He speaks to us through the reading and preaching of Scripture. We respond with songs of praise, prayers, tithes and offerings. And he invites us to the table, where we are fed by his body and blood. We remember the Gospel, the New Covenant, and by sharing the bread and wine, we not only proclaim the Gospel with words, but we live it out as we come to the table as a community. Thus nourished by Word and Sacrament, we are able to go out into the world and live out the Gospel.

What could be more Gospel-centered and Christ-centered than the Lord's Supper?

Jared said...

Lee Anne, you're right.

I wish more so-called "non-liturgical" churches celebrated the Lord's meal much, much more often.

I know Mars Hill Seattle, which is very non-liturgical, celebrates it weekly.
I think that church and a few like it have a lot to teach the American Church about how to reach people. Many presumptions about seekers and church growth will have to be reevaluated.

Ian said...

It's interesting how we selectively package up bits from the new testament but one or two verses onwards and we are in a world of trouble. I'm not casting nasturciums at anybody because I do it myself. For example, in one of the comments there is a reference to "And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15 (NKJV) which seems pretty plain but what the heck does one do with:

Mar 16:18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover."

I've seen some of the latter, although in all honesty not much, and the former ... well ... heck I hate the little critters.

Jared said...

A world of trouble. Heh.

Ian, rather than pompously hinting at your exegetical superiority, why not demonstrate it by putting the verses in context and thereby explaining how they do not mean preaching the Gospel is central to the proclamation of God's Word and Christian community?

I don't know you, and therefore I couldn't care less what you hate.

Ian said...

Jared,

Honestly mate settle down. You have a blog which is open to everyone to read and comment on right? Otherwise you would vet the comments before publishing them - like some folks do.

It was an honest comment about how we, I think I included myself in the orginal comment, sometimes select a scriptural text and yet adjacent to the text is another that is hard to understand. If you read the comment again I think you will find that I was asking a question.

Mate, if you have a problem with folks jumping in to comment then please put up some statements about what is allowed / not allowed.

The line about hating the little critters is simply the truth ... snakes give me the shivers.

You know what, sometimes you christian guys are just, really hard and cold.

Jared my apologies for making you angry, I'll bow out and I hope you have good one.

Cheers from Australia.

Jared said...

Ian, anyone can comment. My preference is that people do constructively and with an interest in participation, not just rumination.

You critiqued without offering an alternative, a reasoned difference, etc. Drop-by criticism is unhelpful, and sort of rude.
You popped in and basically criticized the interpretative approach of myself and commenters. That's fine if you want to do that, but my response to that will always be irritation.

I don't know how you can judge me as hard and cold. I am thankful people who know me actually know me, and I don't have to rely on character analysis through occasional blog comments.

Peace.