A Great Sermon (Visiting Church #46)
I struggle through the first half of the service. I can’t identify what’s wrong. Despite their efforts at excellence, something turns me off.
Now is the minister’s turn. An affable man, with combed-back hair, he wears a gray vest and maroon shirt, open at the neck. He tells the congregation to follow along in their Bibles as he reads. The verses aren’t displayed on the screens, and with our version not matching his, it’s hard to grasp the text. There’s a fill-in-the-blank outline in the bulletin, and I follow along as he speaks. This information is duplicated overhead, with the missing words displayed at the appropriate time.
It takes me a while to focus, but I soon realize the minister’s a gifted communicator—and entertaining, too. I appreciate his style and welcome his insights about church discipline. He soon wins me over. His instruction is practical, laced in love, and void of dogmatic proclamations (that sometimes occur in fundamental circles). I note the key scripture verses he cites (1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Matthew 18:15-20, and 2 Corinthians 2:5-10), planning to study them further. He shares personal anecdotes of church discipline gone awry, contrasted with the practice done right.
We watch a comedy sketch video to illustrate his point. “Sin in the church, like leaven [yeast], affects everyone.” Churches must deal with it. He ends his message by offering a “judgment-free time” for people to come forward to kneel on the steps of the stage and privately deal with any issue or conviction they have. He and his wife make themselves available for those desiring prayer—a practice I wish more churches would adopt. Nearly twenty come forward and kneel. The Holy Spirit is at work.
Despite a slow start for me, the ending was great.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.