Tuesday, April 01, 2008

needing sermon help

I need some sermon application help. Church ministers are NOT allowed to respond. I am working on a post-Easter sermon series titled Biblical pictures of witness. It is based on a honey of a book, Picturing Christian Witness by Stanley Skreslet: Using a wide range of Bible texts and some great art, Skreslet outlines 5 different images of witness used in the New Testament.

Announcing good news, for example the public speeches in Acts where the role of the Christian is to share publicly and in vulnerability
Sharing Christ with friends, for example, Mark 2:1-12, friends of paralytic man, where the role of the Christian is to walk with and alongside.
Interpreting the gospel, for example Philip and the Ethiopian Enuch, where the gospel crosses cultural barriers and the role of the Christian is to link and translate.
Shepherding, for example Luke 15 where the shepherds goes searching for the lost one and the role of the Christian is to carry the hurting,
Building and planting, for example 1 Corinthians 3, where Paul is building and planting and the role of the Christian is to ensure at all times that the medium is the message.

Now I am doing this series because I think the 5 images remind us that there is no one way of being a witness and thus frees us from rigid stereotypes to be ourselves.

But here’s the rub. I’m stuck with application in regard to the first one. What, practically, does announcing good news mean today? As a minister, I get to announce good news most Sundays. But what might announcing good news mean in home and workplaces outside Sunday? Love to have your comments ….

Posted by steve at 09:18 AM


  1. Not sure I qualify: as a chaplaincy candidate I like to think f myself as minister of the church nonetheless 😉

    The public and vulnerable aspects of the first image make me think of witness as prophetic, so poets, artists, and even scientists might provide you with an example a little less controversial than this: in terms of imaginatively speaking truth to power, it’s what first came to mind. On further thought, this might be less problematic.

    Hope to have been some help.

    Comment by Cam — April 1, 2008 @ 2:38 pm

  2. Steve,

    I need to get the book,sounds great! As I reflect on the preaching in Acts, I’m reminded that each announcement is also colored by the mediator. Peter announces the good news with such power in the public arena while Paul at Mars Hill shares the gospel in a very cerebreal fashion it seems. This also tranlates into not painting the picture in jut a one stoke fashion! I find myself sharing the gospel as a call to follow Jesus based on the story as I have talked to people in the workplace. I still see the need for a shaking prophetic type emphasis at times as long as its authentic and not done for religious effect! We’ve all seen enough of that crap. I live in the southeatern coast of the U.S.!

    Comment by Tommy Sellers — April 1, 2008 @ 6:07 pm

  3. What about a medical professional telling a patient they are healed – or whatever term they would use. Miracles through medicine and faith (miracle drug even). At the cancer relay for life the brass band played Amazing Grace as the crowd hummed and cried along.

    What would announcing good news mean in the political world?

    good news at the preschool yesterday was hearing a teacher and group of kids work out what they could see that God had made, the bunny rabbit, the kids, the fence one boy suggested and they talked about the wood for the fence

    Not sure if that’s what you are looking for

    Comment by jo wall — April 1, 2008 @ 10:13 pm

  4. What if we were to think of announcing as introducing? I’m thinking of formal parties where each guest is announced as the arrive. What if announcing the good news was compared to introducing someone to Christ and his kingdom? Is that in some way what Paul was doing on Mars Hill? “Let me introduce you to the God you have not met yet?”

    Comment by Russ — April 2, 2008 @ 10:28 am

  5. appreciate all the comments. Russ, i like your idea of “introducing” but wonder how it would differ from “sharing with friends” (the 2nd image)?


    Comment by steve — April 2, 2008 @ 11:03 am

  6. Cam,
    i can’t access the links you provide.


    Comment by steve — April 2, 2008 @ 11:20 am

  7. oops, sorry bout that.

    http://www.themonthly.com.au/tm/?q=node/300 (Kevin Rudd on faith in politics: “The time has well and truly come for a vision for Australia not limited by the narrowest of definitions of our national self-interest. Instead, we need to be guided by a new principle that encompasses not only what Australia can do for itself, but also what Australia can do for the world.”

    http://wweek.com/editorial/3113/5974/ (Donald Miller’s now famous campus reverse-confessional from Blue Like Jazz, you need to read it if you can.)

    Comment by Cam — April 2, 2008 @ 3:37 pm

  8. I see the similarity. I wrestle with applying “announcing” solely to the public speaking arena. There isn’t much place for that at home or work.

    Does our culture call more for “see a sermon” rather than “hear a sermon”? In Acts 17, Paul encountered a culture of the mind. He announced the kingdom in accordance with their local custom.

    If it’s true that the modern church has presented the good news as bad news, maybe the best announcement of Christ we can give is by simply putting him on display – introducing others to the good news of Jesus embodied and expressed through our faith, hope, and love.

    Comment by Russ — April 2, 2008 @ 5:12 pm

  9. Russ, you are basically naming my sharing with friends sermon. I am struck by John 1, where friends invite friends to SEE Jesus. And this is exactly why I made this post and asked for comment.

    How on earth does “announcing” work in our culture/s today? How do we publicly talk about faith? Or is it simply a redundant biblical image?


    Comment by steve — April 2, 2008 @ 5:52 pm

  10. I wonder if perhaps the ‘God’ billboards in Auckland are an example of “announcing” in today’s culture.

    Comment by Sarah — April 2, 2008 @ 9:50 pm

  11. I remember having a party after my son was christened and many of the guests were not Christians. I found it really scary (the vulnerable bit!) but I made a small public speech during which I pointed out the miracle of a baby and spoke of my new found faith and how it had sustained me during recent times. I don’t think you can ditch public announcements for ‘cultural reasons’ – sure, people don’t speak publicly often, because it is scary and you are vulnerable when standing alone before a crowd – but there are plenty of opportunities if you have the courage.

    Comment by Jack — April 2, 2008 @ 10:11 pm

  12. hey, Jack and Sarah, these are so helpful. Just what I was looking for.


    Comment by steve — April 2, 2008 @ 11:25 pm

  13. I’m having lunch today with a young friend who has been into Hari Krishna. I, too, need, after several very friendly times together, to “announce my faith” as I suspect that the God he and I talk about are not identical. Can he see Jesus in me? Is that an announcement? Is it enough? Would words help? I’m dependent on the Spirit of God to lead me – even prepare me to say what I need to say. May God help him see Jesus.

    Comment by Allan — April 3, 2008 @ 8:54 am

  14. Jack,
    when i read your post, i thought of doing a baby blessing in the middle of a friends 40th birthday party and the way we worked so hard to constuct an “announcement” that was God honouring but not exclusive.

    and of a going to a friends 50th and hearing him, in front of all his friends and family, talk about how God had changed him in the last years.

    these seem very good examples of announcing good news in a public type setting,


    Comment by steve — April 3, 2008 @ 1:12 pm

  15. Steve

    I story that I sometimes tell in my lectures to senior university science students when I have feeling very brave.

    The biotech company that I spent 10 years working with, until last year had a core technology that was it’s key business focus. I did the research for this technology.

    We (mainly I then) had scoped over a dozen ways of measuring white blood cells in milk. Non of them worked. There one that showed promise and we invested a large chunk of time into it. However it would not consitantly react. And thus it wouldn’t reliably work (often not work at all).

    So we said if it doesn’t work today (day like 60 or 90 or something like this) then we pull the plug on it. I remember standing at this lab bench crying out to the lord saying HELP! and can I need a miracle here. This wild thought came into my mind to use this machine to do the reaction that all logic (till this point) all data and all recommendations stated we shouldn’t. But what was I to loose. It worked for the first time, and worked consistently, and for this point the technology was significantly invested in and was commercialed.

    To me that is part of the good news – having God working with you in your labor (no I don’t think he is a slot machine God where you put in your prayers and he gives the answers every time). So to me this is a powerful piece of good news, that made my career (before I decided to change it!). I have only had the guts to share this once or twice…

    Does this help?

    Comment by david — April 3, 2008 @ 4:08 pm

  16. David,
    i like that one. it jogged my memory of when i declined a postgrad scholarship in science in order to pursue theology training. that gave a number of opportunities to ‘announce my faith.”


    Comment by steve — April 4, 2008 @ 7:55 am

  17. oh, oh, oh, i have another one.

    i met a couple last nite who want me to marry them. after we’d popped a bottle of sparkling juice and talked a bit, i asked them how they had met. then proposed. then how might faith and God have become important to them.

    oh, he said, at the wedding you took 2 years ago. that began our faith journey.

    so there we are, the way a wedding is conducted, the words used, my use of humour, becomes an ‘announcement of good news’


    Comment by steve — April 4, 2008 @ 7:58 am

  18. Someone was right about this aspect of images of witness when they said it was done often done best by creative expression. What came to mind for me was a painting done by a 15 year old Matthew struggling with his faith and showing his vulnerabilty through illness and perhaps still not being certain of what he believes. Just makes you think. http://www.natre.org.uk/spiritedarts/art05/whereisgod/wig24.php
    There’s plenty more to make you think on that site.

    Comment by John Fellows — April 5, 2008 @ 4:08 am

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