Monday, November 16, 2009

if you need me to fed you

“how do we get fed? – You pick up a spoon! What are you… a baby?!” Great quote from Andrew Hamilton.

I had not come across this “need to feed” until I came to Opawa, when after a few months, I was told my preaching was not feeding some people.

Which on reflection, really got me scratching my head. It suddenly occurred to me that the people needing feeding had been around the church a long time. Some had even got to Bible Colleges. Presumably they’d heard a lot of sermons. And been to a lot of weekly Bible study home groups. Presumably matured.

If they needed feeding, then what did that say about all preaching, not only my preaching. And what did that say about their own patterns of feeding, daily?

Which raises again the perennial question – what is the point of preaching? And more pointedly, what is the point of preaching “in such a time as this”? To feed? To inspire? To open windows?

And leads nicely into this blog series by Scot McKnight, on preaching underpinned by a thoughtful, integrated educational approach. Scot’s approach intuitively rings some bells for me.

A very early influence on my preaching was a communication seminar I attended, led by an adult educator. Who asked a whole lot of educational questions about how people are formed. And then applied them to preaching.

So I like Scot McKnight’s instincts – refusing to throw out the baby with the bathwater by scorning preaching. But equally, refusing to somehow treat preaching as sacrosant, above educational insights. In so doing, he opens the door for us to begin to take seriously how all of our church life can be forming people – worship, small groups, billboards, websites, video …

Posted by steve at 09:07 PM


  1. Hey Steve- have heard that comment about feeding plenty of times and have thought it myself! Having done a bit of looking around churches lately I have realised that a sermon is just a sermon, the “feeding” is the connection with God, that is occasionally sparked off by a sermon. When people say they aren’t being “fed” I suspect it means that they don’t “connect” with what is being said- maybe it is too familiar, maybe it doesn’t speak into the real issues of their lives, maybe they disagreed on some point when listening to the sermon and erected a barrier that shut out both God and preacher.

    Comment by Kathy Boyland — November 17, 2009 @ 2:39 pm

  2. thanks kathy, what I appreciate about your comment is that it underlines the complicated nature of communication, the listener and their space as well as the speaker,


    Comment by steve — November 17, 2009 @ 3:22 pm

  3. Four years ago, I did a CPE (Clincial Pastoral Education) – a 20 week course which clergy and lay people do to hone their pastoral skills. I flummoxed my supervisor. I wanted to explore preaching as a pastoral encounter – it was a concept which he hadn’t considered before. Another aspect to through into the mix of this conversation.

    Comment by KSW — November 19, 2009 @ 4:17 pm

  4. thanks KSW. I tried the preaching on my CPE supervisor and got a very short shift. I agree with your instincts. that when a situation like Mantepopo disaster happens, that to preach on God in hard places and the value of the Psalms, sets up incredibly helpful frameworks for future hard stuff in individual lives.

    against this stands the danger of gospel as therapy, which is such a pressure in our society today. We place value in our entreprenuers, or dispensers of practical wisdom, or counsellors and so that places pressure on us as ministers to adopt pastoral models that are potentially simply mirrors of culture, rather than gospel shapers,

    I mean, Jesus leaving the 99, would not be considered the most pastoral of gestures!


    Comment by steve — November 19, 2009 @ 11:08 pm

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