Sermon at Peoria Rescue Mission

Going to Metamora Mennonite Church in the last 3 to 4 months has shown some really positive aspects of using the lectionary texts for church worship every week.  For example, leading up to today, the lectionary texts that could guide the pastor’s speaking for today’s church service were Exodus 17:1-7, Psalm 95, Romans 5:1-11, and John 4:5-42.

Metamora Mennonite leads a service at Peoria Rescue Mission every three months for all of the residents that are being served or using the resources at the mission.  Several weeks ago, the leader in charge of planning each service that they lead asked me if I wanted to play some music and preach for the evening.  I have not spoken a sermon for an audience since high school when I spoke to the junior high and high school youth group.  Interestingly, I love to public speak, though.  Public speaking is the number one fear among Americans, which is something that I have never been able to understand because speaking to people has always been exhilarating for me.

As I prepared for this evening and tried to think of new and different ways to engage my audience with music and speech,  I talked to Mike, who had spoken several times before at the Mission.  I realized that I would not have anything available like powerpoint  so that the audience could learn new music or follow my ideas with a visual.  Trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the limited resources, Mike and I decided that it would be better to sing some accapella hymns and then spend the rest of the time with my sermon, which was pretty intimidating.

Knowing little tidbits and statistics about teaching, I’m not a big fan of direct preaching because direct teaching usually results in the audience only absorbing 10% or so of the information presented.  I’m always trying to figure out new and better ways that will engage discussion and help the audience gain more of the information by their own critical thoughts and ideas.  Often the audience is very capable of realizing the same as well as different things than the leader did about the text if the leader is willing to guide the discussion with some of his own thoughts while also showing the audience that their thoughts and interpretations are valuable.  Hear me out.  I am not saying that everyone’s view is right or that every view is as valid or well-thought-out as others.  What I am saying is that because we are often uncertain of the one right answer (if there is one), we could learn a lot about the people around us and about ourselves if we listen to their ideas and value their opinions.  Let the discussion become a safe place for people to express themselves, not a battlefield filled with intellectual casualties, in which the last man standing is right.

I was most intimidated by this situation because I was uncertain of a good topic for my audience until I started reading the lectionary texts for this week.  I was challenged greatly by the relationship between the texts, what the text was speaking to me, and what I was reading into the text from my own past experiences.  I tried to take the texts for what they were and where they were in the scriptures, which was not as easy as I wanted it to be, but it really made me consider assumptions that I often bring to the text as I interpret it.   I decided to use the lectionary texts as the basis for the sermon. I will discuss in my next post what I said about these texts at the mission.

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~ by randallkoehler on March 27, 2011.

One Response to “Sermon at Peoria Rescue Mission”

  1. Just wanted you to know we will pray for you during your mission trip. We sponsor a child in South Africa. I will have to get you the name incase you happen to cross paths w/ his organization in your travels. we recently got his ‘report card’ and I was sharing it with the kids in the neighborhood. We carefully studied the photo. They finally noticed the barbed wire fence next to the playset and slide. I enjoy living in America, but I feel I noticed a glimpse of how very spoiled we must seem to others.
    I will pray you not only have ‘daily bread’ but that you have a smooth transition. My gut says you will be blessed beyond belief for your willingness to serve Him.
    God’s Blessings~ Lisa Feig

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