Last weekend I taught 3 times at a Jr. high – Sr. High retreat. there were 5 nazarene churches, so there were about 50 kids and 50 leaders. It was a very good time.
I‚Äôm learning that I don‚Äôt have to have a big finish when I teach. The big finish, the big closing statement, the final conclusion, is how movies end, not necessarily how you finish preaching the Gospel. Stand up comedians tell their second best joke first, and their best joke last, so that you leave the people laughing. Why? so that they will remember you, and a lot of times people project their very last feeling onto the whole night. In the American Church we have become so accustomed to a sermon being an entertaining/emotional event, that many preachers now have their sermon follow the same flow that a hollywood movie follows:
1. Attention grabbing opening
2. Background explanation of the opening and then transition
3. Slow build up to pre-impact statements
4. Settle down into seriousness after pre-impact statement
5. Build or interesting twist from seriousness into whopper final point
6. Climactic call to action or passionate point of sermon
7. Slow and steady cool-down into next part of the church service
(rinse and repeat steps 3-5 as time allows)
I hope this doesn‚Äôt look too cynical, but it was just this past weekend that I realized that this is the sub-concious formula I thought that all sermons had to follow. As I look over the Gospels, Jesus never taught this way at all; I think it‚Äôs because He TAUGHT.
I‚Äôm not going back to that.
If your point is excitement or entertainment, or membership retention, those steps are fine, but from now on I‚Äôm going to teach. I‚Äôm not sure what it looks like, but it sure feels good to be free from the idea that I have to ‚Äòfinish strong‚Äô.