Magazine article The Christian Century

Preach! Preach! Preach. (the Heart of Pastoral Work)

Magazine article The Christian Century

Preach! Preach! Preach. (the Heart of Pastoral Work)

Article excerpt

FOUR YEARS AGO the church I serve decided to offer a midweek worship service for those working in the downtown area. It's a half-hour jazz service called "Feed Your Soul at Lunch Time." Each service includes a homily. We've been working through a book of the Bible chapter by chapter.

When we began I was apprehensive about doing two different sermons each week (the Sunday sermon is based on the lectionary readings). I had often wondered how preachers of an earlier era managed to preach a couple of times on Sunday morning, then a different sermon on Sunday evening, and sometimes another on Wednesday. But I discovered that preparing for an additional sermon was the kind of work worth doing, and that preaching more often made my preaching both better and, in some ways, easier. Going to the well more often somehow seems to deepen the supply.

On the basis of this experience, I have no hesitation about encouraging pastors to preach more often. In our secular, pluralistic society where all sorts of messages are trumpeted at us all the time, a weekly worship service may be too thin a diet for Christians. We need more preaching and more worship in order to be more fully formed as Christians.

Our average attendance on Wednesdays is 90. Many of those who come on Wednesdays also attend Sunday mornings. Often it is those new to the faith or experiencing some sort of crisis who make it twice a week.

A side benefit of this midweek service became evident in the days following September 11. Possibly because the service had established the church as a place of worship during the week, people came in droves from nearby offices for the daily noontime services we held throughout that week.

Preachers also need to preach more because they themselves need it. Preaching keeps us engaged with the biblical texts. …

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