Monday, October 02, 2006

Preaching Rubrics

My daughter is searching for churches. Ever since leaving Minnesota, she has been on her own quest to find her own church home. Salem is always welcoming to her, but my shadow is there and she feels it's time for her to be a spiritual adult on her own terms, not just as Don & Martha's daughter. So, she's been out visiting churches all over the Twin Cities.
Recently she told Martha (and tonight me in detail) the rubrics she has devised to evaluate preaching. It was fascinating to see how she categorized preaching irrespective of denominational and theological divisions. I asked for her permission to share this, because I think it's an intersting launching pad for discussions with our younger believers about what they value in preaching.
The lowest order of preaching she called "Cotton Candy". It's a simple sermon with no obvious biblical text driving it and no outside sources. The sermon is devoted to a short inspirational talk to help worshipers feel better. It's an inspirational talk that's strong on how-to advice and practical application.
The second order from the botton is a sermon with a biblical text and that's it. It's the sort of sermon where a preacher takes a text and just talks about the text, one word one meaning and then stops.
The third order of sermon is textually centered with many supportive biblical references. She calls it "flying around the Bible." It's a sermon strong on context, so the worshiper leaves with a greater understanding of Scripture.
The second highest order of sermon is one which draws from multiple texts and multimple outside sources. These are sources like other theologians or Christians. In this preaching there is both text and Christian context.
The highest order of sermon for Liz is when the sermon uses both multiple biblical sources and uses of non-religious sources and world/cultural events. Being a cross-cultural teacher, she loves when words are studied and un-packed, going into languages and meanings. This type of preaching brings word and world together.
That's a tough rubric for me to use with my preaching.
But our conversation became even more animated when I asked her to talk with me about her rubrics for music in worship, but that's another conversation for another time.


At 6:58 AM , Blogger Bruce said...

I think your daughter shows some great insight. If she would move to Texas I would love to have her in my young singles Bible study group. :-)

Enjoy your blog. Very insightful.


At 7:54 AM , Blogger donnjohnson said...

thanks Bruce.

At 5:28 PM , Blogger Gary Means said...

I'd be interested in knowing what other qualities your daughter looks for as she visits churches. You've mentioned two, preaching and music (and I look forward to hearing what she has to say on that topic). Does she have other metrics? Once again, your post causes me to ask questions about what it is that I believe. I think I'll post about it on my blog.

At 8:26 PM , Blogger donnjohnson said...

Gary; we did talk extensively about music, fellowship, intergenerational presence, and how a church welcomes visitors. She is by no means a social engineer, so her metrics are not that thorough, just provocative.

At 4:19 AM , Anonymous bob said...

There is a church in your area Solomons Porch -Doug Pagget. an emerging church

At 7:48 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

With as many examples in scripture of listeners/followers asking questions of Jesus, and Jesus asking questions of them, why isn't a Q&A format the accepted norm for 'sermons' instead of the defacto monologue format?

The most memorable sermon from my youth? The pastor stepped up to the pulpit and said a few words, and then from the back of the congregation one of the youth yelled out "hey pastor, why did Jesus have to die"? The pastor responded, "well come on up here, bring your friends, and let's talk about it". About a dozen high-school youth ran down the 3 aisles of the church, the boys carried the communion table out of the sanctuary to the narthex and ran back, sitting in semi-circle around the pastor. He answered the question, and then others asked more questions. It was a riviting exchange, and I believe more in keeping with Jesus example of interactive teaching, than the monologue sermons of today.


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