Showing posts from June, 2014

Recovering The Sermon Pt. 1: The Sermon As Life Changing Event

Recovering the Sermon Part 1 This past week I facilitated a preaching workshop that was hosted at St. Paul's Presbyterian Church in Ocoee.  We had about 15 participants from my local presbytery--representing the roughly 70-plus Presbyterian Church (USA) churches in the Central Florida area. The impetus behind this workshop was two-fold: 1) I've been attending creative preaching, communication and leadership workshops with Rob Bell for the past few years and thought I would share what I learned, and 2) My recent doctoral project revealed that one of the many issues that pastors of growing churches had in common was the amount of time and energy they devoted to preparing sermons and improving their preaching. I am hoping that this kind of workshop will serve as a prototype for some exciting things I'd like to see our presbytery do in the future.  I currently serve on the Church Transformation Committee for the Central Florida Presbytery, and I believe that one of

The Core Week Five - "Radical Service"

This Sunday is the final installment of the sermon series that we've been working on for the past several weeks--a sermon series entitled, "The Core."  This sermon series has been a re-exploration of the core values of our church--what we call the Five Things: Worship, Pray, Grow, Love and Serve. Throughout this sermon series our conversations have been shaped by one very important truth: "We are made of what we value."  And, as we've discovered, this is more than just a metaphor, it's quite literal, in fact. At the very core of our being we are made up of trillions of atoms that are constantly exchanging energy with other things and other people.  Those of us who are Christians say that the energy between us, around us, in us and through us is stamped with the very DNA of God , and is fueled by God-energy that we call the Holy Spirit . And at this level of being---there's a load of mystery.  Science can't explain everything as it turns

The Core - Week Four: "Unconditional Love"

This week we'll be continuing our sermon series entitled, "The Core"--a re-exploration of the core values of our church.  We call our core values, "The Five Things." These core values are the "how" that enables us to accomplish the "why," which is a simple way to describe how our values both form and inform our vision as a church.  The "why" (our vision) is "To Reflect and Reveal the Unselfish Love of Christ To The World." We like to say that when "You Know Jesus, You Show Jesus."  And we've discovered that the best way for us to become the kind of congregation that not only knows Jesus, but shows Jesus to the world is to not only have very real, very tangible values, but also to stick to them. It's not enough to simply say that you value something---you have to show it. The overarching theme of this particular sermon series is this simple fact:  We are made of what we value.  And, as we'

The Core Week Three - "Challenging Growth"

Over the course of the last two weeks, we've explored the first two of what we call "The Five Things ," the core values of our church.  The Five Things are: Worship, Pray, Grow, Love and Serve. We've been working on a very basic premise throughout this entire series:  "We are made of what we value."  This isn't just a metaphor, as it turns out.  As we've learned, the tens of trillions of atoms that make us us are being exchanged with other things and other people at the rate of billions per second.  And this exchange of energy affects us in very real ways. Which explains why being surrounded by negativity, darkness, depravity, sadness and the like has a negative affect on our mood, our outlook and even our physical well-being. And it also explains why surrounding ourselves with beauty, truth, hope, peace and love has the exact opposite affect.  The Apostle Paul , who wrote half of the New Testament in the Bible once wrote about this very th

The Core - Week Two: "Continuous Prayer"

This week we are continuing our exploration of the core values of our church--what we've called "The Five Things:" Worship, Pray, Grow, Love and Serve. Five years ago, our church embraced these core values and we identified that if we were able to focus on these values, that we would be able to move closer to our vision of being the kind of church that reflects and reveals the unselfish love of Christ . From time to time it's important for us to be reminded of why these values are so important to us, and so this sermon series... But it's not merely enough to say  that these values are important, we need to understand  why they are a vital part of not only our life as a church, but also our individual lives as followers of Jesus. We called this sermon series, "The Core" because we are re-exploring our core values, but we also wanted to draw attention to a very important fact:  We are made of what we value. Last week we tackled the first of o