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time for feedback – simon mcleay


Well I’ve just read another article reflecting on how strange it is in our culture that we preach and there is no feedback or interaction, so today I have decided to plot a change. I wonder whether I will still be so keen this time next week. Perhaps I could give up a little control for Lent!

I’m a believer in a well structured and carefully composed sermon, I like alliteration and I love building dramatic tension. I also live in an internet age where I know I’ve got to take my conclusion and pop it out the front of my sermon – Above the fold!

So I’m thinking of three ways to have some interactive dynamic in “our preaching”.

Firstly we have already been talking about hosting an open small group after the service for those who would like to toss around the message a bit more.

Secondly, I’m now thinking perhaps I’ll invite a series of people to make a response to the sermon each week – just to get the interaction flowing. They might just point out the thing that touched them, or they might talk about how they want to put some aspect of the sermon into practice, or scariest of all they might ask some questions. That would be cool; we could have some rules about not being mean to the preacher, about maintaining a sense of worship, but also really being able to ask a good question.

Thirdly I’m thinking about texting in comments – perhaps putting those up on the screen or even using a live blog format. I wonder whether that would be possible. We’re a mid-sized church so most people wouldn’t want to ‘shout out’. Hmm.

Why would I wonder about doing this at all? Because this is the way that Jesus often spoke. His disciples asked him questions. The best learning happens in an interactive forum. Hmm is that true? Not necessarily some great learning comes from listening to an excellent presentation – but I believe even that excellent learning can get better if you can ask questions.

Q? Won’t this put the speaker off? I think after 20 years of preaching I’ll generally know my passage and I’ll try not to be too threatened by interesting questions. I won’t need to answer every question.

Q? Won’t this destroy the sense of worship? I think there is a danger that we start to debate to make a good point. But we can aim to speak about God, in God’s presence and with God as a participant in the conversation.

Q? Won’t this take up a lot of time? Yes, it will take some time, but it will be worth it.

Last week I was preaching about Acts 17, Paul in Athens and the way that he preached to a Pagan culture with sympathy and challenge. I talked about looking for footholds in our culture – I wonder what other people might have been able to contribute? I wish you all a rich journey through Lent.

One Comment

  1. Hi Simon, literally last night we tried for the first time a question and feedback time after my sermon at the evening service so your post feels very timely. Another person “chaired” it as I felt that might make people bolder in questioning things and would also remove the temptation from me to try and answer every question. The other chair had been making some notes in the sermon of good questions (and jokes) to get the ball rolling. For a first time thing it went really well, people raised questions and other people tried to answer them, and some folks who would never get upfront contributed some great thoughts. So i recommend giving it a go.

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