Which is more important? To preach a message that accurately reflects the intent of your text while no one pays attention? Or to get to the heart of the meaning of a text with a congregation that is fully tuned in to what you’re saying?
The biblical text should certainly be the grand centerpiece of every sermon. But we often take what should be the centerpiece, and move it to the front of what we have to say. It’s like serving the steak before the salad.
In most cases, reading the text should come first in importance, but not first in the order of a message.
Whether you’re looking back at Plato or Jesus, virtually every culture has had great communicators who realized the power of attention-grabbing hooks.
So how do you garner attention for the biggest points of your sermon? I wrote a post this week about 8 ways to “hook” your listeners into the message you’re about to deliver:
Sermon Ideas Based on the Lectionary
For July 10, 2022
Year C – Fourth Sunday After Pentecost
If you missed last week’s edition, with sermon ideas for Sunday, June 23, 2020, click here.
First Reading and Psalm
You can receive the rule of God (the kingdom of God) in your life or you can keep playing by your own rules. You have the freedom to choose.
One path leads to chaos (judgment) and the other leads to peace. And you are free to choose which you’d like to pursue.
The one thing that is clear is that God’s message will not change. His prophets will not stop preaching. His truth will march on.
The one true God will find any “god” that shows partiality based on privilege to be unjust and will, therefore, overthrow that god, like any mortal.
Alternate First Reading and Psalm
The revealed will of God isn’t inaccessible! It’s not far away. God didn’t hide it from you. He put it within you (reason and conscience), around you (other people, nature, the church), and behind you (centuries of inspired scripture and tradition). In other words, what you need to do is right in front of you!
We love to complicate matters by assuming that we need to know every detail about the future. We assume we need to know not only our final destination but every stop and twist and turn along the way. But remember,
It’s not always about what we’re doing next, it’s about whom we are becoming.
We now get to live in light of the settled fact that God has redeemed and rescued us and offered us forgiveness of our sins.
Are you living life as though you are still condemned? Defeated? Lost?
Good news! You get to turn and reverse course in light of the finished work of Christ. You get to walk in the freedom of redemption as a forever citizen of the kingdom of God! Or as John put it, you now get to “walk in the light, as he is in the light.” (John 1:7)
Jesus’ answer is pretty clear. If you want to live in the joy God intends for you in this life and beyond, then you’ll love all of your neighbors, without condition and without exception.
So how do we do that? Jesus uses the word “do.” You go and DO likewise.
In other words, it’s not enough to simply SAY that you love everyone. You must show it. You show your love for all others by showing hospitality, by being empathetic and compassionate toward suffering, and by giving whatever resources you have toward the healing of those who are broken and hurting, no matter who they are.
A Creative Sermon Series Idea
The Cave… it’s that place of loss and loneliness and isolation. The future King David lived in one for a season, and it wound up being the place where God did a great work of preparation in his life.
The year 2020 has felt like a bit of a Cave for so many of us. This short, three-week series explores God’s purposes for allowing us to endure a season of Cave Dwelling so that we can emerge to live out his purposes in the world.
Creative Sermon Series Ideas from MinistryPass
My favorite resource for sermon series and message ideas, complete series graphics, and video bumpers (but NOT full notes or sermon outlines) to get you started is MinistryPass! Each week, I’ll feature a series I would recommend checking out for the upcoming season of the church year. This week:
From the Description:
This message focuses on 1 Peter 1 and the eternal hope this chapter points us toward. The Christian hope is more than mere optimism that says things will “hopefully” work out. It is a sure hope, and so we “hope fully” (1 Peter 1:13) through every trial and test of faith.
Books, Links, and Resources for Pastors and Church Leaders
- Seth Muse has an insightful post about church communications called We Need to Talk About Our PR Problems.
- Jenni Catron offers a spectacular leadership post with 6 Questions to Ask (And Answer) to Improve Your Culture.
- Dan Reiland has a helpful post about 7 Practical Questions to Create Your Best Strategy.
- Jack Jenkins wrote a superb post for Religion News Service on How White Christian Nationalism Paved the Way for January 6.
- Brian McLaren has a thought-provoking post about In the Kentucky Derby of Religions, Do We Have a Winner?
A Conference for Church Communications Leaders
The Church Communicator Conference is specially designed for the accidental church communicator, the one that wears many hats and may have stumbled upon this role without a plan. Lead pastors and executive pastors will also benefit from this conference as it will introduce principles and concepts that will assist with creating a unified communication strategy that aligns with the vision and mission of the church.
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About the Cover Art: Good Samaritan, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. Original Source.