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Source: (consider it) Thread: Discussions during church services
SvitlanaV2
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All church leaders would say that they take their 'context' into account, so I'm not sure if that word necessarily moves things along.

What the Baptists have above all, ISTM, is not so much the right context for this kind of thing, but a significant amount of agreement as to what constitutes the right context.

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LutheranChik
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With the disclaimer that I am a geeky person who does enjoy listening to monologues of all kinds...I have a hard time understanding how a group discussion fits aesthetically into a worship service. In my experience " discussion sermons have not gone too well in my churches -- either the " frozen chosen" decline to participate, or the most needy/least functional people present monopolize the conversation with things that have nothing to do with the sermon. (If your experience varies, you're fortunate.) I am also inclined to be a " do- bee," and if noone participates I feel pressured to help the pastor, which makes me anxious and I'm sure gives others flashbacks of the teacher's pet back in grade school.

One pastor I know offered anyone interested about a half-hour block before the service to review the day's lessons and do a Q and A...not universally attended, but some people appreciated it. My pastor now does an " ice cream theology" session at am ice cream parlor that's a favorite of the congregation, after the Saturday evening service she goes to the ice cream shack ( which has a spacious interior and porch with room for a small group) and likewise discusses the sermon, or other things.

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Lamb Chopped
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Among other things I answer random Bible etc. questions from the public at my new job. The file of Q&As past is labeled "Doughnut theology" because Lutherans tend to do that over coffee and doughnuts...

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Gamaliel
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Sounds like the right context to me.

Pub, ice-cream parlour or doughnut and coffee place ...

Those are the right contexts.

The middle of a communion service, less so.

Meanwhile, SvitlanaV2, if there is a greater deal of consensus among the Baptists as to what the right context is for discussion in worship, then surely that reinforces the point I was making - that Baptists have a 'better' context to contextualise these things ...

That isn't to say that the others - including the Lutherans (who are almost invisible here in the UK because they are like hen's teeth) - can't do it, but they can find somewhere within their own context that works.

As our Lutheran friends have said here, they do it through Q&A sessions and what-not within settings that suit. What they don't seem to do is plonk it in the middle of a communion service where it doesn't 'fit'.

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Jengie jon

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All right Ecclesiology and liturgical theology time from an English orthodox dissenters perspective. Yes I know, there are some who believe this does not exist.

There is a particular group within in English orthodox dissent* that holds that worship is primarily an act of the Congregation. The leader is, therefore, a facilitator and is not called to lead the performance of the liturgy. Indeed the fullest possible participation by members of the congregation and the most non-hierarchical performance of liturgy is to be desired. What is more, the congregation is a hermeneutical community and what is the Word in one congregation does not translate to another.

They would key this as the 'priesthood of believers' and often adopt a Quaker like belief in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit residing within members of the congregation. They will often have lay led services and also tend to favour lay communions. They strongly believe that the leadership of worship should be connected to the community.

In a congregation with this approach to worship, the replacing of the sermon by a discussion is something to be desired.

Jengie

* Sorry for the long term but it is not URC specific, but held by some Congregationalist, Baptists and others who come from this ilk. They actually tend to be theologically liberal. Actually not a UK phenomena, I read once a description of Marilynne Robinson's home church worship and it fitted with this form exactly.

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Gamaliel
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There's a very theologically liberal chapel near my brother in South Wales that appears to take this sort of approach, Jengie Jon.

I've not visited it, but he has and his description accords with yours - although not expressed in as 'theological' a way.

It seems largely made up of refugees from more conservative non-conformist chapels and the congregation comes from a wide area rather than the immediate vicinity.

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leo
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Discussing the readings is also something done in the base communities of Latin America.

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Jengie jon

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
It seems largely made up of refugees from more conservative non-conformist chapels and the congregation comes from a wide area rather than the immediate vicinity.

I think I am right in that these places historically are those among orthodox Dissent who tended to draw on the Radical Reformation than on the Magisterial Reformation (Lutheran, Reformed, etc). The Magisterial Reformers tended to emphasise the teaching role of the Presbyter.

Jengie

[ 27. August 2017, 19:02: Message edited by: Jengie jon ]

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"To violate a persons ability to distinguish fact from fantasy is the epistemological equivalent of rape." Noretta Koertge

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Gamaliel
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Possibly, I don't know much about the origins of this particular chapel but I get the impression it formed as part of a merger of two independent groups with a congregationalist flavour. They get some Methodists along too.

If their roots were small o orthodox, that's not where they are now.

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Jengie jon

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'orthodox' here mainly implies Trinitarian. Technically an acceptance of the historic creeds of the church at least as a starting point for developing doctrine not necessarily as nonnegotiables.

Jengie

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"To violate a persons ability to distinguish fact from fantasy is the epistemological equivalent of rape." Noretta Koertge

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Baptist Trainfan
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Some might quibble with that definition!
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Bishops Finger
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Is (possibly) Outrage!

IJ

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Anselmina
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
The problem, I suppose, is that the Baptists (and most other groups) only have limited coverage. Only the CofE is present in every community, and so in theory could provide interactive worship wherever there were people who wanted it.


Where worship is concerned 'interactive' for me is about being as absorbed and focused on God as Object of worship as possible. My whole mental and physical state is therefore interactively taken up with responding to him. At least that's the hope.

Maybe it's a personality thing.

All I can say is that being still and knowing God, reflectively in worship, is to me the non-negotiable heart of what worship is. Talking about God with others, valuable and essential as that is in numerous other contexts is another thing altogether. I can, of course, benefit from discussions to such an extent where I learn more about the God I worship, and that can feed back into my worship and enhance it.

I still think that different approaches to different aspects of relating to God require different activities with different parameters.

A formula 1 racing driver isn't going to enhance his performance during a race by building into it opportunities to consult and discuss the contents of the car-manual with his support team; no matter how much interesting and even vital knowledge it might contain.

It's as well we're not all the same, of course! How tedious and fruitless Christianity would be if there were only ever one way to experience and relate to God.

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wild haggis
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I suppose the whole question is what is worship? What do we mean by Christian teaching?

I agree with previous comments about hearing impared people - also ADHD and Autistic spectrum folks - sitting still while someone spouts, is not ideal and in fact can be detrimental.

Discussion groups can also pose serious questions about inclusion, as already said.They work much, much better in small groups where folk are willing to participate - so long as someone doesn't dominate. It is the leaders duty to put the kybosh on that.

I agree with Baptist Trainfan's ideas re the use of discussion.

There are many different learning styles and yet in most churches we only focus on hearing. I find that difficult. God has given us 5 senses, not just one! In the past I have sat with a sketch pad or doing sewing. It does help the concentration.

Over a great many years I have asked the question of whether the sermon is indeed the best method of communication today. I usually get my head bitten off by traditionalists.

Do they never listen to music, watch TV/films?YouTube, watch drama, listen to poetry or indeed dance. God has given us gifts and different ways of communicating. Why in church do we stick to one boring (for many) method based on the thoughts of one person - no matter how gifted or anointed? We are all only human - albeit inspired by God's Spirit.

Why can't we use a variety of communication methods? Graphics, clips, illustrated talks/sermons. What can't the minister/priest work with a small team - his/hers the initial inspiration but developed and helped by the gifts of others? Why do we think that a priest/minister/preacher can drop pearls of wisdom week after week in a 20+ mins monologue?

I have been in church services where there are poetry and drama readings (relevant and properly done), clips from all sorts of resources, cartoons and pictures: all to enhance and illustrate what is being said and taught from the passage of scripture bu the "preacher". Much more meaningful and inclusive. Maybe we might get more young people too into our churches by using diverse methods.

As for discussion? Keep it for small discussion groups where people who want to participate can and if something good comes out then share it with the rest of the congregation at an appropriate time.

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Gamaliel
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How do we listen to dance?

Heh heh heh ...

The kind of multi-media approach wild haggis describes sounds like what was known as alt-worship 20 years back.

I often wondered what happened to that.

I've often heard Orthodox people claim that their worship is more kinaesthetic and so on, even if to the untutored eye it looks like most of it is being done by the priest, deacon and choir.

So they'll wander around, nip out for a ciggy, light candles, kiss icons, snuff out candles etc etc ...

I don't have a problem with hands-on stuff or with multi-media presentations and so on in theory. In practice they tend to leave me cold, though. Why? Because a lot of the clips, samples, poetry and so on deployed in contemporary worship contexts is pretty dreck.

Dire is too polite a word for it.

If I want poetry I'll go to a Stanza group or organise an open-mic. At least that way you get some decent beer.

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simontoad
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Apologies to all, but the idea of formally breaking into chat groups as distinct from people turning the passing of the peace into a mini goss session appalls me.

If you want to learn, go to a bible study or do an alpha course or whatever.

I'm not angry enough to do a proper rant, probably because I realise that people like different sorts of stuff. Suffice it to say that I would flee from such a church. The only time I've participated in such a process in church was when I was single and going to the same church as a woman I liked who was involved in leadership there. I should have known the relationship was doomed...

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LutheranChik
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I think I'm a veteran of too many Bible studies and other small groups where people wander off topic. I can't imagine myself voluntarily going to a worship service that waa going go break into small grouos midwzy. I'd rather atrend a,service eith no sermon time at all, just lessons and the Euchsrist.

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Augustine the Aleut
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quote:
Originally posted by LutheranChik:
I think I'm a veteran of too many Bible studies and other small groups where people wander off topic. I can't imagine myself voluntarily going to a worship service that waa going go break into small grouos midwzy. I'd rather atrend a,service eith no sermon time at all, just lessons and the Euchsrist.

My spelling is somewhat similar if I am using my telephone screen for typing!

I have for some years, unless I am travelling, have managed to just as LutheranChik likes. Younger friends are appalled, and simply do not understand my preference at all at all, as they seem to really like things like discussions and sermons, but seem to ascribe it to my advancing years. I have also found that going to services in languages which I don't quite follow expertly is also useful both for learning and for being able to ignore tangents.

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simontoad
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oh yes. I've been to a few orthodox services of various varieties and not being able to follow the service is magical. I lose myself in the gestures, the vestments, the singing... I liked the Armenian Orthodox the most.

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Gamaliel
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Perhaps it is an age thing ... when you 've been round the block a fair few times you've pretty much heard most things preachers are going to come out with - I find I can anticipate which illustrations or points they are going to use - or simply can't be bothered having earnest discussions part way through a service ...

I horrified a preacher on these boards once by observing that I'd probably pretty much heard anything that preachers are ever going to say ...

He felt I was being unteachable. I'm sure this person was and is a very good and engaging preacher, that wasn't the point ... I'm sure he serves his congregation well and delivers well-crafted and thought-provoking / moving and engaging sermons. Again, that's not at issue.

But I dunno, the older I get the less sermons I want to hear and as for discussion ... well, I can do that in other contexts. I want to be left alone during church services, not have to engage in futile discussions with whoever happens to be sitting near me at the time ...

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
He felt I was being unteachable. I'm sure this person was and is a very good and engaging preacher, that wasn't the point ... I'm sure he serves his congregation well and delivers well-crafted and thought-provoking / moving and engaging sermons. Again, that's not at issue.

But I dunno, the older I get the less sermons I want to hear

I think I know what you mean and also hold to some of that sentiment myself (but perhaps I'm un-teachable and irascible also). I did wonder if the internet had ruined my attention span - but then I listen to large amounts of audio through the week just fine.

Joking apart though - and given your arts background - I'd like to ask a couple of related questions which are somewhat involved and so may take more than one post.

Do you think at one level you just 'sermoned out' ? Perhaps you just - at some level - need a rest from being bombarded with even more propositional truth with slight variations.

I once heard a quote along the lines of 'the purpose of a sermon isn't to make the truth clear, but to make it real'. It seems to me that tied into that statement is the notion of the preacher engaging artistically with the truth in order to express it in a fresh way. Do you think this is what is lacking ?

On the other hand, perhaps there is some regular artistic event you attend that leaves you equally cold - in which case the question may be moot.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Albertus:
But what are you supposed to *do* with a short period of discussion that is then followed by a return to some kind of (other) worship? How does it get followed up? Where is it going? What is the object of the session and how does the discussion period contribute to achieving it?

I assume you are supposed to come up with the sets of canned answers that helps the preacher make their point.

Which is why I hate and detest such things - both within and outside the church (there is a load of this kind of thing in corporate circles).

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Gamaliel
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
He felt I was being unteachable. I'm sure this person was and is a very good and engaging preacher, that wasn't the point ... I'm sure he serves his congregation well and delivers well-crafted and thought-provoking / moving and engaging sermons. Again, that's not at issue.

But I dunno, the older I get the less sermons I want to hear

I think I know what you mean and also hold to some of that sentiment myself (but perhaps I'm un-teachable and irascible also). I did wonder if the internet had ruined my attention span - but then I listen to large amounts of audio through the week just fine.

Joking apart though - and given your arts background - I'd like to ask a couple of related questions which are somewhat involved and so may take more than one post.

Do you think at one level you just 'sermoned out' ? Perhaps you just - at some level - need a rest from being bombarded with even more propositional truth with slight variations.

I once heard a quote along the lines of 'the purpose of a sermon isn't to make the truth clear, but to make it real'. It seems to me that tied into that statement is the notion of the preacher engaging artistically with the truth in order to express it in a fresh way. Do you think this is what is lacking ?

On the other hand, perhaps there is some regular artistic event you attend that leaves you equally cold - in which case the question may be moot.

I think those are good questions, Chris. I'm not sure I have immediate answers.

I think familiarity does play into these things. For instance, I'm involved with judging a poetry competition at the moment and I find I can very quickly sort the wheat from the chaff as I pretty much know what to expect with a high proportion of entries ...

Ok, some are self-selecting, the 'Raving Looney' category is the obvious one ... but then there are those that 'have something' but lack that special ingredient or spark ... or those that look like they've come out of workshop sessions I can readily deconstruct and identify ...

Like you with the audio, I find I have no difficulty sitting through lectures and so on at theological or ecumenical conferences. I've been to one recently and thoroughly enjoyed it.

But a lecture is a different thing to a sermon.

I'd posit that a sermon is a harder thing to 'pull-off' and get right ...

I think your thing about making the truth 'real' is a pertinent point.

I also think that you're right that I don't want to be bombarded with the same propositional truths over and over again.

I'm not suggesting that it's simply the case that traditional liturgies - whether RC, Orthodox or Anglican - have a hypnotic or 'zone-out' aspect to them - although I think they can at times - as charismatic worship can too ...

But I dunno, I find there's space to 'swim' in these things, even though there's a definite set-pattern and even though I know what's coming next.

But then, there's a certain predictability about charismatic worship too, at least how it's developed and become 'normalised' and domesticated.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I'm against the stereo-typical hymn/prayer sandwich with a nice sermon in the middle down at Blogg Street Baptist or Stanley Road URC ... that can be 'done well' too, as it were - and I'm sure I'd derive spiritual nourishment from such things were I to go to them more regularly.

But I dunno ... there's something about discussions and sermonising in a 'bog-standard evangelical' setting that doesn't 'do it' for me these days ... it's not that I think these people are off-kilter or 'lacking' in some way ... I've no doubt about the integrity or sincerity. But I dunno, there's a certain je ne sais quoi that isn't there for me any more.

That said, occasional nuggets and trigger-points within all that would have an 'Ah! Bisto!' effect on me, I'm sure. I'm a sucker for Welsh hymn tunes in the minor key and certain evangelical tropes ...

But I dunno ... I dunno what it is.

At the conference I attended recently the token evangelical speaker was asked to close a panel discussion in prayer. For some reason, the way he prayed sounded odd - even though I've prayed that way myself a million times. I asked a cradle-Orthodox delegate what he'd thought and he said it'd sounded wierd to him too, not because he disagreed with the content nor found the delivery 'lacking' in some way but it just didn't sound 'right' somehow ... perhaps because he was so used to praying set liturgical prayers rather than extemporising.

I s'pose it's a case of what you're used to and getting tuned into things wherever you happen to be ...

... Or moving on from somewhere you've been ...

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Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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chris stiles
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I'll get back to you Gamaliel once I've digested your post and pondered my followup. In the meantime, back to something a little closer to the OP:

quote:
Originally posted by LutheranChik:
With the disclaimer that I am a geeky person who does enjoy listening to monologues of all kinds...I have a hard time understanding how a group discussion fits aesthetically into a worship service.

I think in addition to the curse of the jejune, I'm not entirely sure that discussion during the sermon/worship time could cope very well with dissent. It may require much more time than was available - which would mean that the temptation would be to either go the way of everyone sharing their opinion and agreeing with each other, or alternatively tightly managing the sorts of (leading) questions that are asked.
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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I'm against the stereo-typical hymn/prayer sandwich with a nice sermon in the middle down at Blogg Street Baptist or Stanley Road URC ... that can be 'done well' too, as it were - and I'm sure I'd derive spiritual nourishment from such things were I to go to them more regularly.

But I dunno ... there's something about discussions and sermonising in a 'bog-standard evangelical' setting that doesn't 'do it' for me these days ...

It strikes me that there could be several reasons for this, eg:

- the same texts and stories coming round and round, with nothing new for you to bite on;
- superficial and obvious comments which don't force you to think more deeply;
- a lack of originality in style, use of language and presentation;
- failing to relate the Biblical era to present-day life;
- shying away from real controversy ...

There may be many more! I agree that a sermon is not quite the same as a lecture, where the "didactic" element comes to the fore, sometimes allied with the attempt by the speaker to persuade you of their point of view. Sermons do all that but should also inspire, indeed they have a quase-sacramental value in linking hearers to the Divine.

It may be the lack of the last bit which is lacking in discussions ... tho' we congregationalists of course believe that God can speak through any member of the fellowship.

[ 06. September 2017, 15:00: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Gamaliel
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Sure, I get all that Baptist Trainfan and I'm sure it's a combination of each of those things.

Something 'sacramental' doesn't have to involve goosebumps, of course and I'm not talking about tan tan tarahhh! fanfares and such ...

There have certainly been times in Baptist and other congregational settings where I've heard sermons that have taken me 'somewhere else' - and as I've said before on these boards, some of the best sermons I've ever heard have been in Baptist churches.

I think what I find irritating in some evangelical Anglican sermons these days is that there is little sense of 'mystery' or that they are trying to answer putative questions or objections that I either no longer have or which I feel are a non-issue in the first place ...

Or they try to tackle some issue of theodicy only to beg more questions and make matters worse. I even heard a vicar try to make out that you couldn't 'blame' God for the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum because perhaps they shouldn't have settled there in the first place ...

Yeah?

I think what happens is that clergy people hear the usual 'excuses' for non-church-going roundabout and then try to address them in sermons for the faithful ... When those aren't necessarily issues for the regulars at all ...

Something like that.

But that's one aspect ... There are others.

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Gamaliel
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Meanwhile, what Chris Stiles said about the jejune and the lack of opportunity to develop any discussion or tackle any topic properly in the constraints of a Sunday morning service unless it's managed properly.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:

I think those are good questions, Chris. I'm not sure I have immediate answers.

I think familiarity does play into these things. For instance, I'm involved with judging a poetry competition at the moment and I find I can very quickly sort the wheat from the chaff as I pretty much know what to expect with a high proportion of entries ...

.. and if you weren't judging the competition but just going weekly to hear this poetry being recited how would you react to it, do you think?

What I'm trying to get at is whether what you miss is the sense of the numinous or sacramental (thanks bt!). At least that was the thrust of my original question - but it does lead me to wonder whether the sacramental alone is all you miss ? Or would it also need to be crafted well?

[Of course, listening to someone else's half formed thoughts to a leading question is likely to be the painful antithesis to all of this.]

I wonder also if its down to a certain house style? I've noticed that I can spot when someone has been through certain seminaries and colleges, and after a while the particular cadence becomes jarring because it's at odds with the material. [Perhaps shades of your critique of more recent Anglican preaching here].

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Gamaliel
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Interesting questions again.

On the poetry thing, all recitals are a mix of the good, bad and indifferent,but generally you know there'll be some good stuff tucked away.

Beyond that ... I'm struggling to answer your question ... I'll have to give it some more thought ...

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simontoad
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A good sermon is great, but I don't go to church to think. I go to church to feel.

As long as the sermon doesn't piss me right off, I'm ok with the usual points.

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Jengie jon

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Yes, but surely you do not read a novel to think? There is a very reductionist approach to sermons on this thread that treats them as if they were pure catechesis. I am sorry but the breaking forth of the Word through the sermon is so much more that someone actually had to point it out to me that there was an element of that in them. Basically many of you are treating the sermon as Memorialist do the Eucharist.

Jengie

[ 07. September 2017, 07:35: Message edited by: Jengie jon ]

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Gamaliel
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No, I think it's the opposite, at least in my case, Jengie.

I'm expecting the sermon to be more than 'memorialist' as it were but too often it fails to transcend that and become 'fully sacramental' if you like, in the way you describe.

I take your point, though.

The problem I have with many evangelical Anglican sermons I've heard recently is that they try to cover all bases, try to answer ineffable questions, try to catechise, try to put the world to rights, try to ...

Can you see what I getting at? They are trying to get the sermon to do more than can reasonably be expected of it. Some of the best sermons I've heard have simply whetted the appetite or touched on something tantalising ...

You feel you've touched the hem of His robe ... If that doesn't sound too over the top ...

What we most often get may be exegetically ok - I've heard few gaffs of that kind in evangelical Anglican sermons - but lacks a certain lightness of touch.

I'm struggling to describe what I mean ...

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Baptist Trainfan
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A question for Gamaliel:

How long have those Evangelical Anglican sermons been? And, in your opinion, were they too long or too short?

I ask this because I have been in many Anglican services with sermons that are 8-10 minutes long and in my view come to an end just as they're getting interesting! Admittedly 20 or 30 minute Baptist sermons can be infuriatingly sprawling and unfocussed, making one think, "Why doesn't he just get on with it?" (I say "he" deliberately as the few female Baptist ministers I have heard seem to sound pretty Anglican in style!)

Also, do you think there is any difference between sermons which are read, perhaps fairly dispassionately, and those which are more lively and less tied to a script? Might there be more of a feeling of "engagement" with the latter, which leads one closer to God? Or am I confusing emotion(alism) with spirituality?

[ 07. September 2017, 08:07: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Bishops Finger
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I was much enhumbled recently by a member of our congregation complimenting me on my homily that morning. 'Best sermon I've ever heard you preach! I was concentrating on EVERY word!', she said.

I'd had the period from 2 minutes before the service (when we realised the visiting priest wasn't going to Turn Up) until the Gospel, in which to think of something...so perhaps I just managed (with God's help) to provide that 'lightness of touch' to which Gamaliel refers!

[Help]

IJ

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Baptist Trainfan
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Absolutely ... you could nothing but depend on God's Spirit to inspire you (although clearly you had a bank of knowledge and experience to draw from, too).
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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Jengie jon:
Basically many of you are treating the sermon as Memorialist do the Eucharist.

I was under the impression that the last few posts were treating the sermon as anything but that, and the thrust of the OP was in fact that it interrupted the non-memorialist aspects of the sermon ...

I'm also don't think it's necessarily down to length, or whether it's read/not read and/or spontaneous [I don't think the numinal/sacramental aspects of the sermon can be reduced in that way].

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Gamaliel
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
A question for Gamaliel:

How long have those Evangelical Anglican sermons been? And, in your opinion, were they too long or too short?

I ask this because I have been in many Anglican services with sermons that are 8-10 minutes long and in my view come to an end just as they're getting interesting! Admittedly 20 or 30 minute Baptist sermons can be infuriatingly sprawling and unfocussed, making one think, "Why doesn't he just get on with it?" (I say "he" deliberately as the few female Baptist ministers I have heard seem to sound pretty Anglican in style!)

Also, do you think there is any difference between sermons which are read, perhaps fairly dispassionately, and those which are more lively and less tied to a script? Might there be more of a feeling of "engagement" with the latter, which leads one closer to God? Or am I confusing emotion(alism) with spirituality?

As ever, I agree with Chris Stiles ... but to answer Baptist Trainfan's question ...

Firstly, let's make some generalisations and observations:

1. The 8 to 10 minute (or shorter) sermons one hears in Anglican circles tend to occur in MoTR or more higher up the candle churches. Evangelical parishes would feel short-changed if that's all they had.

2. On the issue of length of sermon - I don't have a problem with longer sermons Baptist-style - provided they are in the right kind of context. A lengthy sermon with some kind of discussion element just doesn't fit well, time-wise, into an Anglican eucharistic service - even a very 'low' one. It disrupts the flow.

Evangelical Anglican parishes still retain the 'Service of the Word' option, even if they may not call it that these days. Why don't they include longer sermons and discussion if necessary in those? Rather than viring them into a communion service with the eucharist tacked on at the end like some kind of after-thought?

Ok - as for the evangelical Anglican sermons I've heard recently ...

Sure, on one level they're fine. Well-constructed, pertinent points, fairly engaging. What's not to like? I really don't know. Perhaps it's simply that I'm no longer evangelical in that old-fashioned sense? They are probably attempting to scratch where I no longer itch.

At worst, they are too long, rather too many illustrations (why use three when one will do?), rather rambling and try to cram as much in as possible ...

They also tend to set up opposing views that they then challenge and tear down - be these objections to the Gospel, objections from unbelievers / non-evangelicals or whoever else ...

The problem is, some of these objections are either straw-men or non-issues. They may be an issue to the preacher, but not necessarily to anyone else. Nine times out of 10 they aren't an issue to me.

[Biased]

Now, I hasten to add, that I'm sure there is a place for this type of preaching. I also have a lot of sympathy for Jengie Jon's 'high' view of preaching in almost sacramental terms ... we need word and sacrament ... both/and ...

On the discussion issue, one of the most egregious ones I've encountered took place in a very conservative Anglican parish I know during an interregnum. The minister (he wouldn't have allowed himself to be called 'priest') presented the issues/topics in such a dice-loaded way that there could only be one conclusion ie. one that corresponded to his own highly conservative evangelical take on things.

I was rebellious and cited chapter and verse to show that alternative or more nuanced viewpoints could also be reached without apostasy - and I'd like to think that was helpful to some of the people in the group.

Does that help?

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Gamaliel
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I missed the thing about reading sermons as if they were a script ...

In my experience that tends not to happen so much in evangelical Anglican settings, more in MoTR, liberal catholic or some high-church ones.

It's not a practice I'm fond of.

That's probably purely a cultural thing on my part.

Coming back to Jengie's point about the sacramentality of sermons ...

Back in the day, in my restorationist charismatic days, the sermon was always the climax, highlight of the meeting/service ... it somehow rounded off the worship-time and cynics could say that people were worked-up by that in order to be more pliable to the emotional manipulation of the sermon.

To be fair, it wasn't always like that and there was a strong sense of the word being 'opened' as it were ... although looking back I'd have very grave concerns about some of the stuff that was preached.

It wasn't all dodgy of course, not by a long chalk.

I suppose if I were to sum up I'd suggest that the ideal would be:

- Services of the Word: or whatever you want to call them, where there is more time and space to develop a theme through expository preaching.

- Communion service with short-homily (on the readings for the day, please!)

- Discussion times to be reserved for smaller groups/house-groups unless they are of the kind Baptist Trainfan has outlined where it's clear what's expected and what people are letting themselves in for.

Will that do?

Is it not a reasonable request?

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MrsBeaky
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We worship at the Cathedral here in our home city and it is in the catholic tradition.
We attend the Sung Eucharist and the sermon slot is 12 minutes long. Most of those preaching write their sermon out and then read it- the results are varied from the point of view of delivery as some people are more animated in how they read their sermons and therefore much more engaging than some others. I am fairly sure our clergy team and some visitors who are all superb preachers may well depart from reading an actual script but they manage to remain on the point and within the time. My husband and I were given the sermon slot before after our time in Kenya and wrote our full script out and delivered it by reading, all the while attempting to sound engaging.....once we got to Kenya we were made honorary Lay readers with the expectation that we would preach hour long sermons-
my husband managed it [Big Grin] but the teacher in me would only ever do that if we were in a more discussion based parish weekend type of set up.
I have sat through many a 40 minute plus sermon and with even the best of preachers it is difficult to remain focused for that length of time, listening to one voice even with good visual aids.
I honestly think this discussion about discussions boils down to what our different traditions believe to be the central components of worship and then crafting our services/ using the already crafted liturgies to make that happen.
Discussion might then work in a church where the sermon takes central place and the church wanted to make their teaching more accessible than a monologue might be.
I also think it is important that visitors know what to expect when they visit our churches so up to date noticeboards and websites explaining this are IMHO vital!

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Will that do?

Is it not a reasonable request?

(Wipes brow). Yes!
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Baptist Trainfan
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Re. preaching: I have just come across this quote in an article written in 2002.

"Preachers are called to reflect both the freshness of God’s neweverymorning mercy and the faithfulness of his eternal nature. This is reflected in a theology of preaching which sees it as a moment of encounter between God and his people, an encounter into which others too are invited to enter as they observe and overhear it. Far more than an offloading of information from pastor to congregation, preaching is a time in which we meet the God of today, and find him also to be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the Scriptures and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ".

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Gamaliel
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Sure, given that, though ... I don't know how anyone can stand up in a pulpit or at a lectern without quaking in their boots ...

Perhaps they do ...

Same with those who preside at communion ...

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Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Bishops Finger
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Yes, we do so quake. And it behoves us to, given of Whom we are preaching, and Who it is in the form of the Blessed Sacrament.

[Ultra confused]

IJ

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The future is another country - they might do things differently there...

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Jengie jon

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Sure, given that, though ... I don't know how anyone can stand up in a pulpit or at a lectern without quaking in their boots ...

Why do you think if I possibly can I do not preach?

Jengie

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Walking 18 miles to help Refugees get an education.

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Gamaliel
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Jengie, that's assuming I even assumed you could ...

[Biased] [Razz]

But yes ...

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http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Jengie jon

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I wish more would assume I couldn't.

Jengie

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"To violate a persons ability to distinguish fact from fantasy is the epistemological equivalent of rape." Noretta Koertge

Walking 18 miles to help Refugees get an education.

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Gamaliel
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Heh heh heh ...

Never assume, as they say, it makes an ass of u and me.

I'm sure you preach very well.

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Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I don't know how anyone can stand up in a pulpit or at a lectern without quaking in their boots ...

Perhaps they do ...


Standing up and talking to any group of people is a bit scary.

Preaching is only going to top that level of fear if you hold it to be more sacred or special than any other spiritual thing that a Christian might do. I'm not sure that all churchgoers believe this to be true. But perhaps we do, which would help explain why we're so wedded to the sermon. Those of us who aren't just have to make do or else stop going to church.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Sure, given that, though ... I don't know how anyone can stand up in a pulpit or at a lectern without quaking in their boots ...

And some of us have to do it every Sunday, sometimes twice. Please excuse us if our ministry is, at times, 99% human with only a 1% mixture of the divine.
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Gamaliel
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Well aye, I've already said that I think preaching must be very difficult to 'get' right' and is different to giving lectures ...

Don't get me wrong, I'm not disparaging sermons as such nor discussions per se - the issue for me is context and application. Some approaches don't fit particular contexts.

I take my hat off to preachers who can engage congregations week by week, but it ain't all about the preaching. The liturgy and hymnody should carry some of the load as well.

The main thing that bugs me are attempts to do cack-handed apologetics in sermons rather than simply presenting a case and letting the scriptures do their job ...

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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