This morning I preached a great sermon. I preached one as good or better last week. And I have done a lot of them in the past six months. But increasingly, I am not satisfied.
Telling you why this is so is important not just to me but to you. So give a listen.
By way of definition, let me say first that a good sermon, or a good teaching is one that conveys God’s truth competently, clearly, and in a life-changing manner. I did that. After many years, one knows when this is so, and frankly, I hope I don’t freak you out when I say that one gifted and called to teach and preach knows when he or she senses the presence of the Spirit in the preaching act. It happens to me all the time, and it means everything to me.
But still, I am not satisfied. Worse than that, I am discouraged.
Why is that, you ask. Simple. As any preacher of teacher of holy things will tell you, the frustration we have is that we have no control over what happens to that truth after it is communicated. We have no control over whether people take the ball of transformational truth and run with it, or whether then just leave it there, inert on the field of play. No control.
And its discouraging. Why? Because people like me know about the transformational power of God, the inner glee of experiencing his presence, and the joy of doing what he has gifted and called us to do. And to contemplate people out there who freely report how much they liked the sermon, and how much it touched them, while knowing that except for rare occasions, not one of those people will do anything with it, not one of them will experience a deeper flow of the holy lava and the volcanic power of God, all of this is discouraging.
Well, is there any solution, you ask? Well, if you are looking for a magic bullet, no. And it is not enough to simply say, “Well, the LORD will work in their hearts, and we have to prayerfully leave things up to him.” That sounds good, but I think it’s a comforting failure to face the inadequacies of our current spiritual models which fail to widely and consistently unleash the transformational dynamics provided to us in all of holy history, and most recently in the atoning death, victorious resurrection, and triumphant resurrection of the Son of David, whose spirit has been sent to us for than occasional “liver shivers,” transcendent spiritual highs. No, that is emphatically not enough. Nor is it why Yeshua died and rose. Not by a long shot.
As best as one can know these things, I know that God has called me to mobilize, teach, and advocate for a step in the right direction, a step toward a more transformative and dynamic encounter with the potentialities purchased for us and sent our way.
What is needed is a modality that enshrines such a teaching ministry within a context of intimate accountability. We need a modality whereby people will treat each others like family, not only taking care of each other, but also growing together in the things that such a family stands for.
We need a for-our-time-and-place reincarnation of the havurot and home groups that existed in the Jewish and Yeshua believing communities of the first through the third centuries. These were the kinds of communities that turned the world upside down—but first they turned people’s lives right side up. Coming into a big room, singing some songs together, and hearing an inspirational speaker, which is what passes for believing communities in our place and time is not enough. We need something more and something other.
I have a lot to say about this. And a lot to do. Recently God has been sending people my way who want to know more.
You can expect to read more about this here on these pages. But be forewarned. I am not talking about kaffeeklatsches, study groups, or discussion groups. I am talking about learning what it means to form communities where the people of God act like family, with all the comforts, and more than occasional discomforts that entails, maturing together into what Paul called “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah.” It’s a tall order, and I am responding to the call to give it my best shot. I started experiencing this in the earliest 1970’s and researching it beginning in 1990.
I am stretching myself in that direction. And already I am learning there are others who feel the need of that kind of stretch themselves.
How about you?
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