Michael has asked the Adult Forum to give over regular sessions to sermon talk-backs. It’s helpful to him to hear even more, in an open discussion, how people are responding to his preaching.
The sermon talk-back “exercise” also helps listeners of sermons– reflect and articulate their own feelings as well as recognize that others have different reactions and very different needs, interpretations and conclusions.
Michael is also hoping that sermon talk-backs are one habit of reflection that will help us as a congregation become more constructively critical on any and all aspects of our church life. As we move onward in deliberate development– consciously trying new things to become the church that God wants us to be and to serve more people– as a community, we need to develop our evaluation skills. Not just trying new things for their newness, we need to be able to assess whether and how well they work. If something new works, can we improve on it further? If something fails, what can we learn from our mistakes? We trying to become a community and an institution that is more intentional and effective responding to and evolving in light of the changing environment God’s calling us to serve in.
This coming Sunday was to be the third “sermon talk-back” this year. But Wandika, who as Worship Team Leader has very ably been moderating the conversations, could not be with us last week to hear the sermon. She felt it would be impossible to moderate a conversation on a sermon she had not heard. But necessity can also be serendipity. Michael said, “Since May 1 will be a different sort of service– outdoors for example– let’s broaden the talk-back topic, and I will moderate a conversation not just on the sermon, but more broadly on worship in general.
So, this Sunday, in the Adult Forum at 10 am, we will consider our various reactions to last Sunday’s alternate worship. We can also consider Michael’s sermon (which is posted on the church’s FB page or here on the website.) But, maybe, this talk-back can help us more broadly, undertake an important conversation on worship as we aim to develop some constructive critical skills thinking about how we worship and how our liturgical traditions serve our needs or could serve our needs better.
Often times, one needs to step away a bit from “the ways (we think!) things have always been” in order to find some distance and to recognize things that otherwise one might take either for granted or assume are “the only way” to do things.
Recently, the Revitalization Task Force has occasioned an example of this. Beginning to try thinking “outside the box” on ways that Old First might be able get “outside its four walls” and nearer to the people we hope to engage and serve more, some possible plans have occasioned some very strong reactions. But, Michael keeps reassuring us all, even through some tense conversations, he sees the possibilities or threats (depending on whether you greet these potential innovations as wise or wrong-minded!) getting us closer to the heart of discussing where the future of Old First lies… where our ministry, mission, worship and community will be found, or are leading us.
Please reflect on worship on May 1:
What was different?
Did you find that difference troubling, intrusive, interesting, effective, promising, or something else?
What did the changes you noticed in that worship help you recognize as essential and dear to our liturgical traditions?
Did the changes suggest ways that our liturgical traditions might develop or serve more people?
Please join us at Adult Forum to share your insights and to hear the ideas and perspectives of others.