Monday, August 06, 2007

Preaching two services

Yesterday I had the joy of bringing the Word to my congregation, as my pastor and some others are on a mission trip to the Philippines.

The sermon was titled Why Does It Matter That Jesus is a Ransom? Once Brevity Week is over at Pyromaniacs, I mean to make a few comments and link (again) to it. My point here will be a different one.

It was — well, I was about to say that it was my first experience preaching the same sermon at two services back to back. But that's actually my point. My wife Valerie insists it isn't.

Generally speaking, if I have to choose between my memory and Valerie's, I'll usually favor hers. She has a very good memory. Not infallible, but very good.

Now, I really really can't recall ever preaching at two services, but Valerie is ontologically certain that I have. She makes a good case, because she has a specific memory about it, and while I don't remember the two-services part, the story does sound familiar.

Valerie says that at this first service, in my sermon I was making the point very emphatically that we Christians must study our Bibles. In accompaniment of the point, I held my Bible up as I spoke about how imperative it is that all believers be Bible students.

After the service, Valerie pointed out to me that the Bible I held up was a brand-new Bible, with bright shiny gold-edged pages. And it looked as if it had never been opened.

Next service (she says), I used a different Bible.

Well, that's a pretty compelling illustration. As I say, it sounds familiar, though I really don't remember the preaching-two-services part.

I don't think this experience yields anything so amusing, except for one thing. To keep with the church's time schedule, it's a new guideline that the sermon aim a certain length. After the first sermon, I told an elder/friend, "It was 45 minutes or under!"

After the second, I told him, sincerely ruefully, "That was not 45 minutes or under."
I felt very bad about it.

And I think that's the version that's online.


Tom Gee said...

At my former church, where I preached very occasionally, we had to preach the same sermon three times: once on Saturday, and twice on Sunday morning.

The early Sunday slot was probably the best version. Preaching on Saturday helped me refine the sermon, but by the second Sunday installment I was getting pretty tired.

Our time limit wasn't strict, but it was expected to be around 35 minutes. I tried to measure my time using my watch, since there was no clock in the sanctuary.

One particular message I preached went about 45 minutes. The sound guy complained that he wasn't able to fit the whole message on a tape, and I noticed the next time I had a chance to preach, there was a bright, new, shiny clock easily visible from the pulpit. :-)

Connie said...

I can't remember the last time I "wished" for a sermon to end, but it was probably a sermon that was clearly "off-track" Biblically or poorly prepared (at a church other than our own).

My point is this, guys, as long as your preaching is sound and you've clearly "done your homework", most people will be delighted to hear it even if it is 45 min.

Our church typically allows 30 - 45 min. (no known "rule" on this) for a sermon. Last night during a special emphasis on a certain topic the service went 2 hours. My ONLY regret is that I missed it cause I was working in the nursery--I requested the CD yesterday morning BEFORE the sermon was even delivered.

I don't think I'm all that unique in this way of thinking. But I do understand that folks sometimes have obligations/priorities that make "long" sermons uncomfortable or inconvenient.

BTW, I heard one time that some Puritans didn't think the pastor had done his best if he preached less than two hours--food for thought in our day and culture!

Dave said...

This reminds me of a joke I heard several years ago. And I tell a version of it anytime someone complains about the length of my sermons. :-)

Two friends, a Baptist and a Catholic, decided to sample each
other's church services. First up was Mass at Patrick's parish. And
his friend, Jim Bob, was full of questions.
Every few minutes, Patrick felt an elbow in his ribs: (thump)
"What's he saying?" (thump) "What's he carrying?" (thump) "What are the
candles for?" (thump) "Why's everyone standing up?"
Being a good catechism student, Patrick was able to answer every
question. But his ribs were getting sore. He was looking forward to next
Sunday at Jim Bob's church, so he could do some elbowing of his own.
Well, as you may know, there is almost no liturgy at a Baptist
church. Nearly everything is straightforward; everything is explained.
Patrick's elbow was getting itchy -- until the pastor stepped up to the
pulpit and made a show of ceremoniously removing his watch, then laying it
next to his sermon notes.
This was Patrick's big chance. Drawing back his elbow, he drove it
home into his friend's side. (thump) "What does that mean?" Patrick asked.
Jim Bob only looked at him with weary eyes: "Believe me -- that
doesn't mean a thing."

DJP said...

LOL, that's pretty funny.