Brian Russell offers some thoughts on missional preaching. One of the most intriguing (partially because of the clever subtitle) is that missional preaching must be delivered from the borderlands.
The communicator in missional preaching stands between the Church and World. This is the point of missional engagement. The God of mission is always moving toward the world on mission. It is only in the borderlands that the Word is truly unleashed for both insiders and outsiders. The Word calls from the borderland to the people of God to draw them toward the borderland in order to participate fully in God’s mission. The Word calls to the World to draw them toward the people of God in order to find their true humanity as part of God’s missional community as it seeks to embody and reflect God’s character to and for the World.
A sermon delivered from the borderlands requires you to be in the borderlands. That’s the rub. Right there. The hard part. You can pull the Stanislavski if you choose and act “as if” you were in the borderlands, but this is no substitute. It is irresponsible to lead people to places you have not been.
The pulpit often feels like it may be in the spot between the church and the world, but the pulpit is often difficult because the friction it experiences is within the body of the church. Though this is also a difficult spot to serve, the one who is truly cognisant of the calling will recognize that this is not the place to be. You must not between the church and itself, but the church and the world.
Have you been to the borderlands? What stops you from going? I’m asking myself the same questions….
I don’t believe that the Bible wants to “speak to the modern world.” Rather, I think the Bible wants to change, convert the modern world. —Bishop Will Willimon
The Rev. Frank Logue responds to Willimon in his post, On the Vocabulary of Church and Baseball:
I wholeheartedly agree about scripture seeking to transform our culture. However, I also think there should be a balance in preaching that Willimon seems to miss in moving from one pole to another. Just as I think sermons should balance speaking to the head (intellect) and the heart (emotions), I think we can not transform culture until we have spoken to it. What do you think? Should preaching speak to the culture or seek to transform it? (emphasis mine, jm)
And to this comes the opportunity for me to finally engage these ideas that Willimon puts forth:
There seems to be a few ideologies to follow in “transforming the world.”
1. You could mold it from the outside without interaction with it.
2. You could be inside of it and invite it into community with the Gospel.
The first option may be possible without ever speaking to the culture. It will also result in a conformed world that fits into the change agents view of what the result should be like. However, the second option requires the wolrd to be spoken to. The world must enter into the scripture with us and dialogue with it and the Holy Spirit. Then together we all change. As much as we are in the world and not of the world, we are in the world enought that we must remember to be transformed along with it.
So, my impression of where Willimon is going here is a hyperbole illustrating us being transformed by the culture. It would seem like the polar opposite would for the scripture to completely transform the world. The real middle is probably a place where we are all invited into the scriptures and we are transformed together by the grace and power of God.
You must listen to Willimon’s lectures from the J. Hubert Henderson Conference: “The Miracle of Preaching. ” You can find them as podcasts on iTunes. I wish I had some time to comment, but seminary, work, and baby are making it difficult to collect any more thoughts than I already have.
Also, read On NOT Reaching Our Culture Through Preaching
The UMC General Board of Discipleship has some great ideas for preaching the Sundays in Easter.
Interestingly, the article says:
“ Many congregations are not accustomed to sustained celebration. Many pastors who plan worship and preaching make use of the lectionary during the Advent/Christmas cycle and the Lent/Holy Week/Easter cycle, but are ready to follow a different approach when Easter Sunday has come and gone.
We say this as an acknowledgement of the many ways that pastors approach worship and preaching. In no way do we seek to discourage pastors and churches from staying with full use of the lectionary readings each week during Easter. We will continue to post lectionary-based music, preaching, and worship planning helps throughout the Easter season.”
The GBOD offers some suggestions for creating an “extended celebration” of Easter:
- Forget about Easter and work with themes or sermon series, perhaps preaching through a book of the Bible or some portion of it.
- Keep Easter in view but use your own ingenuity in choosing texts around which to plan worship and preaching.
- Plan for worship and preaching a series making use of some of the “natural” connections and progressions in the Revised Common Lectionary. (Click here for the full list of RCL Easter readings, Year C.)
Using the lectionary, you could
- track the Acts readings for a snapshot of the early church (though how you handle Pentacost later will need to come up)
- follow the Revelation readings to “peer into the future.”
- follow the John readings for an “empty tomb postscript”
- or a few other ways including “our history” from the old testament readings
How is your church celebrating the time after Easter?