Thursday, April 14, 2016

Preaching as Book Report

My mom and I occasionally talk about her experiences of churches. She has bounced around a lot in finding a church home since she became an empty nest parent. These days she is living in Phoenix, and attending a nationally known non-denominational mega church. It seems to work well for her and her boyfriend, who recently made a commitment to Christ followed by being baptized in this church.

Mom and Hal go to church on Saturday nights most of the time. Then they go out and socialize after church. I giggle when they say they show up late on purpose so they don't have to listen to the "rock concert" style of musical worship.

They really enjoy the messages of this nationally renowned preacher and leader. When they first began attending this church, the church was working through "The Story", which is a large-scale campaign based out of what used to be Max Lucado's church in Texas and a mainstream publisher. My mom's boyfriend especially enjoyed becoming grounded in the basics of the Bible's narrative arc.

A couple of months ago, mom told me about another sermon series that they were concluding. They were excited because the author of the book that the pastor was preaching on was attending their worship service. I asked, "Mom, does this guy basically preach book reports?" She laughed.

"I suppose," she said, "well, not always," she went on, "I really enjoy the way he speaks and what he has to say, I think you would too."

I have mixed feelings about book report sermons. I have done sermons, generally one or two short series' a year, based upon the content of a book. This is most common with our stewardship campaign. This year I also borrowed from a book for Advent. However, mostly when I do this, I just borrow a few chapter titles, and maybe one or two good stories from the book in a two week span.

Good reading informs preaching, but should not be the foundation of it. That is my opinion anyway. What is yours?


Jason Bowker said...

I'm with you, Clint. I'm currently preaching a 4-week series based on a book. But essentially all I'm using is the general theme and a quote or 2. But it would be weird to be preaching the actual content from a book. Wouldn't feel like I was actually wrestling with the ideas and doing my own work.

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