Summary: An interactive sermon on the theme of Christian giving
Christians give very generously to their churches - certainly to our church and probably to your church too. But even so, the topic of giving is a difficult and sensitive one to talk about. To help people gain ownership I decided to try a two part sermon, the two parts being a month apart. At the end of the first part I gave people a sheet with over 20 possible approaches to the theme, and then preached on the ones they chose.
Imagine someone has made a video of the service one Sunday. Afterwards you are sitting down in your favourite armchair watching that video on TV. As the video runs you see the first part of the mass happening just as it has just happened now. Then the video continues to the point where the sermon is just about to happen. But instead of watching me get up to give a sermom, on the video you see yourself get up out the pew and climb up the pulpit steps to deliver a sermon. Rewind the video and you see me asking you to have a go and give a sermon. And you watch yourself, you are not sure why, saying yes, and agreeing to have a go.
Now wind the video back to the original point.
Watch yourself as you walked up out of your pew to climb up those steps. How were you feeling as you climbed the steps? Is public speaking something that comes naturally, Or were their butterflies in your stomach as you walked up to give the sermon?
Keep the video running and watch as you gave that sermon. Are you surprised: it seems to have gone rather well! You see how you made eye contact with people as you spoke. How you weren’t using notes but were speaking fluently and people were clearly listening to you. Rapt paying attention.
Stop a moment.
Rewind the video back. Watch yourself preparing the sermon. Reading the bible passage. Praying over it, Trying to work out what to to say. I make no apologies - this is a long bit of the video. You didn’t scrimp on time. You put in hours reading the bible passage over and over again and preparing it.
Now wind forward back to where we were before. Watch again: You see how you made eye contact with people as you spoke. How you weren’t using notes but were speaking fluently and people were clearly listening to you. Rapt paying attention. You come down from the pulpit - it feels quite good.
Keep watching through the mass, Now its the end of the mass. People are coming up to you, shaking your hand, telling you how helpful they found the sermon. You have enjoyed this and it seems to have helped people.
Keep the video running. Watch a few weeks later as I come up and ask you to preach again. Remember those feelings of how well it went before. This time you are less hesitent. Watch yourself say yes to me. Then watch as I dropped the bomb shell on you. You were to speak on Christian Giving.
Well - its there on the video - watch those blurry figures as we quikly rewind. Yes you said “yes”. You’ve got to do it now. But what will you say? Watch yourself pore over the bible texts as you try to work out what to say on the subject.
Well, I am not really going to ask you to give a sermon.
Phew (wipe forehead).
But what would you have said if you had been asked to give a sermon on Christian giving? I think you can agree with me that if kept watching that video and watched yourself give a sermon on Christian Giving, the reaction you would have watched yourself recieve to that sermon would not have been nearly so positive as to the first sermon you watched yourself give.
We all know that sermons on Christian Giving are necessary. People in this church have sat through them every year, and people have very generous as a result. Other churches locally haven’t preached on giving, and they have seen their giving fall. You have sat through the sermons and you have been generous with your giving. Each year over the last nine years the giving has held up or increased. So we know that sermons on Christian Giving work. But we also know that nobody really want to sit through a sermon on Christian giving. Go back to the video and watch as your face fell when I asked you to preach on Christian Giving. Not only does nobody really want to sit through a sermon on Christian Giving - nobody really wants to preach one either.