Table in Sky
Helpful Tidbits for Organic Church Life                                           March 17, 2008
In This Issue
Does Preaching Work?
My Reflections
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Someone once told me that sermons are like meals: you may not remember what you had for dinner last week, but you know you ate something and were nourished. The act of preaching, indeed, has confounded me. Although I know proclaiming the Word of God is good, I do wonder if the Sunday regimen is what Jesus had in mind.
And for the record, the question of preaching's effectiveness is nothing new. "Clement of Alexandria lamented the fact that sermons did so little to change Christians" (Viola & Barna 2008:89).

Does Preaching Work? 
Excerpted from Preaching Re-Imagined by Doug Pagitt
Preaching ReimaginedI'm writing with the assumption that most of you who are reading this book have concluded what I have: Preaching doesn't work - at least not in the ways we hope. If it did, pastors wouldn't reach with such anticipation for new books about preaching; tried-and-true methods laid out in the huge array of available preaching resources. We wouldn't have to preach anymore; we'd just replay our perfect sermons and watch our people change.
I believe preaching to be a crucial act of the church. That's why preaching needs to be released from the bondage of the speech making act. Our impulse to tell the story of God in our communities is the right one, but making speeches is the wrong way to do it. Our desire to be a people who is connected with the truth of God is the right one, but speeches won't get us there. This dependence on preaching as speech making has become a form of communication I call speaching. Our desire to use our pastoral gifts of discernment, knowledge, and articulation for the benefit of our communities is the right one, but speaching will keep us from fulfilling that desire (2005:18).
My Reflections

I've preached a lot of sermons; some hot and some not. In both cases, I've found God to be faithful, taking my lump of mud and turning it into something worthwhile.

On the other hand, I've often wondered if my mud lumps were even necessary. After all, the art of Sunday preaching is nowhere prescribed in the Bible. What can be found in the Bible, however, is two distinctly non-Sunday forms of preaching. First, the Kingdom was proclaimed open-air style. Jesus' most famous sermon, for example, was preached on a mountainside to mostly non-Christians (Mt 5-7). Second, the Kingdom was proclaimed in the synagogues: by an outsider, often offending the synagogue "staff" and usual attendees (Lk 4:14-30).
Essentially, I find the Bible prescribes preaching out there, in the marketplace and mutual edification in there, where Christians come together.
I often wonder if the Body of Christ has its Christian T-shirt on, but wrong side out.
Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table