More and more in my preaching, I find myself gravitating toward sermon series. I think it’s because I’m naturally drawn to continuity, and sermon series help me clarify my thoughts and the message I feel God calling me to give over a period of time. I had an absolute blast with the “Living Biblically” sermon series last fall, and based on the response I heard from many of you, you did as well.
Lenten sermon series are my favorite. It’s the perfect vehicle to ask questions about how we take part in the journey of Christ’s life, to the grave and beyond. For Lent 2013, which starts this coming Sunday, I’ll be focusing on the what, why, and how of spiritual growth in the church. And like last time, it’ll center around a book. In his book Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, Methodist minister Robert Schnase examines how churches can become fruitful (read: grow spiritually) through the following:
- Radical Hospitality
- Passionate Worship
- Intentional Faith Development
- Risk-taking Mission and Service
- Extravagant Generosity
Each sermon will focus on one of these and will push us as a congregation to consider: how can we become “radically hospitable?” How can we “worship passionately?” You get the idea. The book, by the way, is an easy read; and I want to invite you, as I did with my “Living Biblically” sermons, to pick up a copy for yourself. I’ve asked Sandy at Pages Bookstore in town to keep a few copies on hand. Thanks for reading, and thanks for supporting a local business.
There’s something else I’m going to try in the sermons. A number of you are on Twitter and use it to keep up with the latest news and friends. Twitter, though, lends itself to other cool uses. There are a growing number of churches encouraging Twitter users to “tweet the sermon” – in other words, send tweets during the sermon with a quote or a personal thought about the sermon. It’s a great way to engage and interact in real time with the sermon, which in mainline Protestant circles tends to be exclusively one-way communication. It’s also an effective witness to those who follow you on Twitter, expanding the worship audience beyond our sanctuary walls. Participants should include the #FPCMAsermons hashtag in their tweets so others can follow during and after the sermon itself.
There are, of course, legitimate concerns about introducing electronic devices into worship, so let me encourage some reasonable guidelines (silence the phone, mute any “clicking” keyboard sounds, be generally discreet). Also, search for and follow the #FPCMAsermons hashtag so you stay focused on the sermon and not your usual Twitter feed. We’ll do this as a test-run for the five weeks of the sermon series and then see how both tweeters and non-tweeters feel afterward.
(Incidentally, if you’re not on Twitter, simply go to http://www.twitter.com and set up an account. It’s free, as are most of the smartphone apps that allow you to use Twitter on the go).
One of the challenges of preaching a sermon series is that you inevitably miss folks who can’t be there every Sunday. So let me remind you that you can always listen to the worship service in their entirety at our website, as well as subscribe via email and read/listen to weekly sermons at www.themayberrypreacher.com. But always try to be in worship when you can – that’s where the body of Christ really comes together to make a difference in the world.
I look forward to the preaching and hope you’re looking forward to the tweeting!
Your pastor and friend,