Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Use scripture to accessorize your message

New Paradigm leaders face a weekly challenge: how to preach an engaging message without letting old memes, like scripture-reading, detract from the relevant impression.
Churchy people expect dry, old passages from the Bible to inform the sermon. But the unchurched, who we must put above all else, are turned off by chapters, verses and anything that sounds like you are telling them what to do.
Still, the Bible does sound authoritative and can lend credibility to your message. So you do have to use it from time to time. The challenge, then, is to put the cart of relevance before the horse of scripture. It is not that difficult to do.
First, you must preach to the “felt” needs of your congregation, or rather, of your unchurched and unchurchy congregation. These needs can be as varied as child discipline tips, menu suggestions or budgeting help – the meaty issues of today’s upwardly-mobile couples.
Once you have identified a need, you can come up with engaging and humorous examples to illustrate your solutions and advice. Every once in a while, you can toss in a scripture to lend authority to your pronouncements on the “felt” need of the week.
Scripture is great as occasional seasoning. Sprinkle a little here and there for effect. Not too many passages, of course -- just one or two. The main thing is to be so radically different from the old churchy ways that your service won’t be recognized as “church.” That means you need to limit scripture.
Remember, scripture is window dressing, accessorizing. It’s a seasoning, not the main course. It helps accentuate the more important points that YOU want to bring out.