By Ray Hollenbach on May 14, 2014
Our nation may be tired of war, but we are not tired of remembering eternal values.
Every preacher knows the pressure of holidays and the expectations that come with preparing a Sunday message appropriate for the weekend. Memorial Day is no exception. Memorial Day is about remembrance, and as preachers the important questions we face are what should we remember and why?
Our nation may be tired of war, but we are not tired of remembering eternal values. Here are seven questions designed to transform your Sunday message:
1. Why would I choose to preach about Memorial Day? Great leadership—including leadership from the pulpit—should start with "why."
2. What values do Christianity and military service have in common? Memorial Day can be a great source of gospel illustrations, if they are put to their proper use. Consider this encouragement from the Apostle Paul: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
3. Do I serve this nation or God’s Kingdom? Is my message about America or the Kingdom of God? Here’s a simple test: when our sermon is over, will we stand before Jesus or George Washington?
4. What does Memorial Day mean to my congregation? The shepherd tends the sheep. If your church is filled with active duty soldiers or veterans, then Memorial Day is a big part of their lives—and a good pastor tends to such needs. Likewise, if your congregation is removed from military, they have needs as well. Can you minister to either group?
5. Is my message merely cheerleading—playing to the crowd’s emotions? Every preacher faces this temptation: tell the people what they want to hear. That pressure might be all the greater this weekend. How have you resisted that temptation in other settings?
6. Is my message hurtful troublemaking—am I exploiting emotions just to make a point? This is the other side of the same coin: It’s too easy to “preach boldly” by simply taking a contrarian view. Shock value may have a place in entertainment, but not in preaching.
7. Does my message make Jesus the center? As with so many other preaching choices, what is my mission? If my congregation comes away more in love with—and committed to—Jesus, then I’ve brought a faithful message.
What about you? What issues have you faced related to Memorial Day? How have you answered them? I’d love to hear about your experiences.
Editor's note: Check out SermonCentral's extensive collection of resources for preaching on Memorial Day.
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