For the second time, our Adult Forum Sunday, March 13 will be a guided conversation, reflecting on the preaching ministry of our church. We will try, as much as possible, to remain specific, responding to Michael’s sermon from last Sunday.
Wanda, for the Worship Standing Leadership Group, will facilitate and moderate the discussion. Michael will answer any questions posed to him. But mostly, he hopes to listen and learn how others heard his sermon.
Michael has asked for these sermon-talk backs. He believes Old First needs to become more “evaluative.” By that he means that we need to learn as a congregation to reflect openly and honestly about our efforts, and without defensiveness figure out together when, where and how we can improve. He hopes evaluation becomes a skill that happens consistently, almost reflexively church-wide, for all our efforts. He is willing to “go first” and model such evaluation with these sermon-talk back conversations.
Michael believes in and is advocating for evaluation as crucially important for two major reasons:
1) Everyone evaluates and talks anyway! The only real question is whether or not those conversations are public, shared and helpful. Do we take advantage from them and learn from them? Or do they become unhealthy undercurrents?
2) Revitalization is occasioning more innovation. Rather than newness for newness’ sake, we are looking for what increases our effectiveness reaching, engaging, serving more people. We can even learn from our mistakes. Without effective evaluation, we cannot take charge to intentionally, effectively and rapidly evolve our traditions.
Michael also remembers fondly The Church of the Living Hope where he first served as pastor. Every service included a sermon talk back at the point in worship where Old First does an affirmation of faith. Living Hope explains, “The preached word is not complete in our church until we have heard the people’s response. Now is the time for your comments, questions, edits, corrections…” It was always inspiring, if a bit surprising!, to hear what others heard. It also helped Michael know how to preach for that congregation.
Come out and share your two cents. You may remember some reaction to last week’s sermon. Or, equally important, your reflection might be that you cannot remember the sermon or how it affected you at all. it. Maybe you were not even at church. In that case, please feel free to read the text of the sermon. Either way, participating fully in the discussion is one of the contributions you can make to our church.