I recently worked through our 11-week preaching series for the fall semester. For you Chapelites, be warned: it is topical. In fact, a lot of our preaching for the next 15 months will likely be topical. (I can hear the stampede of congregants preparing to check out other churches as we speak.)
It made me realize that, among many evangelicals (that hip group of Christians of which I am a part that prides itself in everything it does), there is often frustration (should I say disdain) for topical preaching. As if God created Adam, created Eve, and then created verse-by verse preaching. Then Chick-fil-A.
I disagree. (Well, not about the Chick-fil-A part.)
Only two things are certain in this life: death and taxes. My maternal grandfather passed away on April 15, 2009, proving that point entirely. I was actually visiting my hometown for a job interview the same weekend he passed, so it was a bittersweet blessing to be home at the same time Grandpa Jimmy died. He was my third grandparent to die while I was in seminary (proceeded in death by both of my dad’s parents) and the third funeral that I was asked to “preach.”
Though I was finishing up my seminary studies and graduating only a few weeks later, my third funeral during seminary made me realize this: I was ill-prepared to officiate funerals.
This morning we looked at Acts 17:1-15 as Paul traveled to Thessalonica and Berea during part of his second missionary journey. As he preached, the Jewish Thessalonians responded negatively to Jesus, and the Bereans responded positively.
What became abundantly clear from this morning’s worship and our time together in the passage is this: everybody responds to Jesus.
You can see them coming miles away–those words and phrases that, when used, paint you into the metaphorical Christian corner. You promised yourself that you would take a different route the moment you even thought those words and phrases were coming, but they still found you. How did they find you? Do they have your address? Maybe you were using Apple Maps and it actually re-routed you right into their warpath.
For me, “I’ve prayed about it” is one of those phrases.
In my youthful zeal, I sometimes do things that may not fly well at all. Especially in a church that has a long history of trying not to contain anybody for any reason. At our church, we have comment cards. About a year ago, we put an “unsigned comment cards will not be read” warning on them so that people wouldn’t treat the card as a poisonous dart, letting staff know what they liked or didn’t like (all in the spirit of Christian humility and unity). Well, there was a season at the turn of the year where we got many-a-card with a specific comment that sounded something like this:
There are a lot of things that seminary teaches you and a lot of things that it doesn’t. I loved my time in Dallas–wouldn’t trade it for much of anything. However, the longer I plod along at The Chapel the more I realize how woefully inadequate I am to do this thing called “full-time ministry.”
One inadequacy that rears its head often: premarital counseling.