Thursday, October 26, 2006

Letting the Sermon Go.......

I've started publishing my sermons - on the church website and on my own sermon blog - All the church's pastors before me - all 2.5 of them (another long and boring story) - have provided written copies of their sermons on Sunday mornings. I hate that - and I've resisted it for a long, long time. It always feels so cut and dried to me - devoid of body language and the human emotion present in the spoken word. But.....I have a number of web savvy seniors who are housebound, but highly mobile in the internet world. So I made a deal with them. I would post the sermons on the church website and if they really wanted a written copy, they could get it and print it themselves.

I've been amazed at the response. If that sermon isn't up on the web by 8am Monday morning, I start getting the e-mails. And this isn't just from the housebound folks. Quite a number of people who are present in worship on Sunday morning download the sermon and read it again. Who knew? Personally, I can't imagine doing that - but obviously, we have a bunch of visual learners in the crowd.

So - this past summer, I decided to try another experiment as an outreach to the marginally connected members and friends of my church. As a manuscript preacher, who writes the manuscript then preaches without it, I started e-mailing the manuscript to the housebound and vacation bound members who I was pretty sure would be worshipping God in absentia.

Again - amazing response. I struggle with whether I am enabling folks to stay home and worship at the church of the holy pillow. We are a completely handicap accessible church - so sometimes I think that my electronic outreach is counterproductive to the growth of the body of Christ on our corner of the road.

But prompted by a 20-something beloved child, I'm beginning to think that the church of the future will have to look and feel a lot different. Beloved child tells me that for his generation virtual community is not significantly different than actual community - so perhaps with chat rooms, instant messaging and computer video conferencing - the virtual church of the future will be one more manifestation of the body of Christ in our midst.

I'm still not quite sure how the electronic virtual kiss of Christian love works though.


Blogger Pink Shoes said...

I agree with your beloved child -- and am not much past my 20s. I think you're providing a wonderful ministry and the folks are responding. Well done!

10:54 PM  
Blogger Iris said...

It's amazing how sermons can take on lives of their own! This is another way that happens, I suppose. It just reminds us again that it's not about us!

11:27 PM  
Blogger momly said...

Why not podcast? You don't have to type anything and folks get to hear your voice. There are many web sites out there that could provide you information for starting up or some of the more internets savvy people in your congregation could help you, too.

If you would like to talk to my husband about it, you could email him at He had been podcasting for about a year.

Have fun!!

3:49 PM  
Blogger Tripp Hudgins said...

I think that the walls of the church, and the preaching moment itself, are becomming transparent because of the internet.

This means, as you suggest, that the artform that is preaching will have to change. But people sais similar things when preachers started publishing their sermons in books...I guess.

People reread mine as well and in the process get something else out of them. Sometimes clarity. Sometimes more mud. But it is good to know that they are seeking.

I think it raises the stakes for us a bit as well.

6:50 AM  

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