Preaching as dialogue
Bill Kinnon celebrated April Fool’s with a tongue-in-cheek post about going to church:
Got up this morning. Rushed to put on our Sunday best. Shoes polished, hair combed, ties straightened. Not a single complaint from anyone. All excited about singing songs and staring straight ahead for the message. Can’t wait for the coffee afterwards.
What day did I say it was?
Bill’s experience of listening to sermons is worth thinking about, especially for those of us who are used to being on the other side of the pulpit. Pastors who move to the congregation’s side often comment on how different church looks from the pew.
Leonard Sweet said years ago, “The people want in. They want out of the bleachers and onto the court.” Kenton Anderson comments, “Surely, this is not unreasonable. Preaching is, after all, about the listeners and their response to God. Sermons are too often written in the absence of the listener. Perhaps this is why they are so quickly forgotten.”
So here’s a question: how can the people be let in? I know the answer from a simple church perspective, but I’m asking here about how it could happen in established churches. How can preaching become a dialogue, in which the preaching becomes a conversation and the congregation hears God together with the preacher?