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Mark Rodel

Having heard your talk at Greenbelt about doing away with talks, I think you should now write a book about doing away with books ;-)
It's amazing how conditioned christians are to expect the monologue sermon. Inspired by Doug Pagitt's 'Preaching Re-imagined', I have been trying to encourage communal engagement with the Bible with the congregation I serve. But some remark on the lack of 'proper teaching' without an extended Biblical exegesis delivered as a monologue by the priest (me!) I know lectures persist in some adult learning settings but generally effective learning us not thought to be encouraged by this sort of address. Of course the sermon is supposed to function as 'proclamation' and not just teaching but I question whether the community's responsibility to proclaim should all be invested in one man or woman.

David Keen

I remember the title from a mission conference in Sheffield 4 years ago where you gave the talk. Unfortunately I can't remember any more about that talk than that - which probably says more about the medium than the message, or perhaps my state of mind at that time... So thanks for pdf-ing it, I've only read 2 paragraphs and am hooked already.


Can't believe what great timing this is - I'm doing my module on preaching right now!! Have read the pdf a while back and its excellent - so now I can reference the Grove Booklet and look a bit less lightweight in my bibliography!

Marcy H. Nicholas

Hi Jonny,
Wish we would have gotten into a discussion about preaching while you and Jenny were here. I can't stand the hegemonic nature of preaching, it's one-sidedness, it's top-down aspect, the I-have-all-the-answers-for-you. And it doesn't matter what preaching resource you are using (and I've read about everything there is) from Ronald Allen to Tom Long to Barbara Brown Taylor to Paul Scott Wilson and every one in between, the bottom line is, they all coach the preacher to do her research/exegesis and from that develop "a thesis" (and there are many names for this in the lexicon of homiletics). It can be placed at the beginning or at the end or anywhere in between, but wherever the preacher places it, she has created the meaning of the text instead of empowering folks to make meaning. I love Brown Taylor, her sermons and other writing, but in her sermons, she is still about being the source of meaning-making for the congregation, though she is one of the few who can get away with it.

For me the sermon as we know it is dead or is, at least, not gritty enough, not incarnational enough. I am very much interested in how we could take the life of Jesus--his earthiness if you will, the grit and grime and use that as a model to write sermons. Haven't had a chance to explore this beyond a blog writing as of yet. see my blog about this http://godwritingsermonscripturearts.blogspot.com

I just think sermons are too polished, too planned, too crafted, though I'm not calling for complete, full extemporaneous expressions of proclaiming the word either.

I was speaking to two male pastors, sharing with them that at one of my churches we were now serving weekly communion. They mentioned that weekly communion would work in a small congregation, but if you did that in a larger congregation, you might actually have to leave something out--like maybe even reduce the length of the sermon. Geez. Can you imagine? When I discussed just the length of sermons in another venue, again, mostly all male pastors came to the defense of the long and longer sermon.

Have glanced over your PDF. Appreciate most of it. However, it is very, very difficult to change the DNA of an established congregation. I long for more authentic conversation in the church setting, but you actually have to teach people how to have such conversation. Such authentic conversation is not normal, espcially since the way church has been done for over 2000 years. Though I hate to stereotype based on age, such conversation is not normal for certain generations either.

So if you have a community/congregation whose DNA has included converation and creativity from its inception, your thoughts on preaching, or ways to proclaim the word will be received. If you have a congregation whose DNA has not included such core values, these idea will not be received. I've experiemented with some of these--responses to the sermon, dialogue etc. The members of my church cannot imagine a worship service without a sermon.

Andy Dodwell

I love the handgrenade idea- have you shared this article with the tutors at SWMTC in Exeter (I know you did some worship stuff with them a little while ago)?

i'm preaching on Sunday and have no time between now and then- organising an 18 sponsored climb for the next two days.. so my sermon could well be some thoughts from that in a shared conversation style.

the idea also reminds me of the way they do sermons at 'Simple Church' which George Lings wrote about in Encounters on the Edge a while back... starting with a theme or a passage and working up the content as a group... come to think of it, thats kind of how a wiki-sermon might look...

Andy Dodwell

sorry, 2nd para should have read:
'organising an 18 hour sponsored climb for the next two days'

we're doing a relay climb of the height of Everest... check out my post http://thesevenchurchesmissioncommunity.blogspot.com/2009/07/climbing-up-walls.html


marcy thanks for your long comment. i love the thoughts/reflections on your blog.

i suspect having something to articulate is ok but perhaps it is the tone in which it is offered - something like 'here is how i see it from where i am standing, but there are other takes?' i.e. humility and a sense of being one voice among many...

David Derbyshire

I just noticed that your booklet is available from Church House Bookshop for £3.50



Sermons are a form of control. In the same way that the Church wouldn't let people have access to the Bible in English in case they were subversive, they won't let just anyone speak in church - you have to be legitimised and regulated so that you don't step out of line.

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    i have been blogging for a decade or more in fairly eclectic fashion. i am an advocate for pioneers, lover of all things creative, an explorer of faith in relation to contemporary culture, a photographer and writer. explore the presences section below to find me in other spaces

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