Why Do This?We want Celebration to include an interactive segment where I can listen as well as speak. This embodies three things we want to be clear about:
First, It's Okay To Have QuestionsAsking questions and finding answers is a great way to learn, and we want Celebration to be a safe place for people of all sorts to come, listen, ask and learn about the Gospel of God's Grace.
Second, It's Okay to Disagree With the PastorI will do the best I can each week to present God's truth in a clear and compelling manner for you. But don't think you have to agree with everything I say for me to pray for you, treat you with respect and listen to your questions. Disagreeing while maintaining a mutual respect seems to be a lost practice these days. Let's work together to get back to it.
Third, Your Questions Help Me LearnI want to know the questions that you bring with your life to our worship. Your questions can help me gauge if what I intend to say is what you are hearing. As I have a better sense of your questions, I can pray and study with those in mind.
I'll do the best I can to give an answer to those questions, even if I don't do that right then and there in the service. I may not have a solid answer assembled and at the tip of my tongue. Your question may deserve more time than we have. Perhaps we take that question to our "Pastor's Q & A" following the service, or I post an answer to this blog, or we meet for coffee or we look into a class or seminar for all of our community. We'll see. But know that your questions are welcome, and they help me learn how to share the Gospel better on Sundays
- Time is limited for this, so each Sunday I will ask for your questions, but we won't linger. If you are planning lunch with someone after worship, you should be able to keep that commitment.
- As mentioned, don't expect me to answer every question right then and there. I'll look for the best time and place to respond. And I may want to do some further study or reflection before opening my mouth!
- Typically, I meet in another location after the service with anyone who has time and interest in pursuing the sermon. We can often start that "Pastor's Q & A" session with these questions.
The BackstoryHere are some of the steps that brought me to this experiment:
- Teaching - I've taught for years in a variety of settings - in church settings, in university settings, public forums, profession training - and learned the importance of questions and answers for engaging listeners.
- Rev. Tim Keller - Years ago, I heard Tim Keller mention that Question & Answer gatherings after his preaching were important in the planting of Redeemer Church in New York. These interactive times helped him better understand the lives of his listeners and the perceptions of his sermons.
- Bill Senyard is a fellow pastor in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church with particular background and passion for church revitalization and reaching Millenials. We have talked often about cultivating interaction with preaching, and I've seen him do it in several settings. He has taught me and encouraged me in this step for Celebration - even doing it in Celebration when he preached here on June 9.
So, there you have it. Let's pray and converse this summer with our "Three Questions" opportunity and new blog. I've even opened up comments on this posit, so let me know what you think, or leave me any suggestions that would make this time more effective.