Wednesday 2 March 2011

Are you preaching boring sermons?

It's a real problem. It's like halitosis or - you know - B.O. - the problem nobody will tell you about. You may think your exposition on the subtle differences between the stanzas in Psalm 119 is riveting. But nobody's going to tell you the truth, are they? They'll just say "nice sermon, vicar/minister/druid/pastor/gorgeous" (delete as appropriate) on the way out the door just the same.

Well, relax. Because I'll tell you. Here are the questions to ask yourself.

1) Have people started suggesting that everyone should have coffee before the service, rather than afterwards?

2) Are people shouting "Amen" because they agree with you? Or because they reckon it surely must be the prayers by now?

3) Do the sidespeople have the new responsibility of holding mirrors in front of people's mouths, to check that they're merely asleep?

4) Have the stewards installed a Pro Plus vending machine in the foyer?

5) Do you have to have a break halfway through the sermon, so people can buy an ice cream?

6) Do you ever hear cries from the congregation during the sermon? Things like "take him now, Lord"?

7) Be honest - are you on your 33rd week in your series on the Book of Romans? And still in Chapter 1?

8) Is your entire spiritual message "let's just be nice to people"? (Not far from St John's message, apparently, but then he was a saint).

9) Has the congregation installed a clock on the back wall of a church? Or, more ominously, a countdown timer?

10) Has the floor of the pulpit mysteriously been replaced with what looks like it might be a trap-door? Is the Head Server holding a new lever that has appeared in the wall of the sanctuary, and wearing a determined look?

11) Do all the parents in the congregation get a sudden urge to check how little Johnny/Joanie is doing in Sunday Club just after you stand up?

12) Is the response to your prayer before the sermon "Amen"? Or a deep sigh?

13) Has someone put a Church Times through your door with jobs that might interest you high-lighted?

14) Do you find that pages of your sermon mysteriously "go missing" in the vestry just before the service?

15) Are people suggesting that you might be heading towards the Ordinariate? This one is particularly worrying if you are a woman.

16) Have cold showers been installed in the box pews? No, that's not to calm them down during the sermon. It's to wake them up at the end.

17) The "Tumble Weed Problem" keeps being discussed at the Moot or Congregational Meeting. You don't understand what everyone's talking about.

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