Apply

One of the things I'm constantly thinking through is how to make my sermons stay on the forefront of peoples' minds throughout the week. This past week I preached about "All-in Availability" from Acts 28 where we saw Paul's example of availability to what God was doing through Paul's circumstances, and through Paul's communication. 

Obviously, one of my goals for that sermon is that people in the congregation would still be considering how to be "all-in available" on Wednesday and Thursday. That's an uphill battle. 

Sunday we tried to do something unique; to cast people out of their comfort zone and encourage them to respond in a physical way that isn't typical "McKinney." The goal wasn't to gauge a response, but to sear the commitment in our minds so that we couldn't forget before lunch. 

Reality: by lunchtime on Sunday, some of our friends had a chance to be all-in available in a specific situation, and they completely missed it. It's not their fault - they're just representative of a challenge we all face. We hear and see thousands of messages every day encouraging us to take action in a specific area; from following hard after Christ to changing the brand of toilet paper we use.  It is only natural that some of those get lost in the shuffle. 

So I have an assignment for you to comment on: Think back to a sermon that truly made an impact on your life; one that was still in your mind on Wednesday or Thursday. What was it about that message that was memorable for you? What helped it connect with you in such a unique way? 

3 comments:

Malcolm said...

I preached a sermon in October 2007 that still gets comments and sticks in people's minds. I preached from 1 Pt 2:21ff. I wanted to focus people's minds on what it truly means to be a follower of Christ, to be his disciple. I called one of the other pastors up to the platform and began explaining that to follow in one's steps, as Peter is defining it, is to physically and literally follow in the masters steps DOING what the master is doing. So as I talked about this concept I paced the platform. One walk down my assistant walked beside me, and i pointed out that was great but that that was not following in my steps. Then the next pace he walked behind me but out of step with me. The third pace, he waled behind me and in step with me, and began imitating my hand motions. This lead to the final pace in which as i talked about the importnace of not only following but doing exactly what the master does, I then, as a 6' 2" 250 lb man, walked into a somersault on the platform and springing back to my feet. I then turned to my "disciple" and asked him to follow me. At which point, as per my script with him, he refused. I was then able to go on to talk about the importance of total obedience to the master and the difficulty that that entails when we are asked to do what we don't want to do. 18 months later and I still get comments of wow, that was great when you rolled across that platform, to which I follow up with, "But what was the point in doing it?" The good news is, most can still say it was to teach us what it means to follow our master Jesus. I praise God when one really sticks.

ecrosstexas (Eric Wallace) said...

Chris,

I listened to a podcast that you might find relevant to your question on the way home from work yesterday Why Johnny Can’t Preach.

C&P McKinzie said...

With all due respect, I don’t think you should put that kind of pressure on yourself- to preach the kind of sermon that will be remembered all week or for a lifetime. I think it is the responsibility of each audience member to remember God’s Word and apply it. In this day and age, with so much competing “input”, even the most powerfully-delivered sermon just will not be remembered unless the hearer chooses to work at it.

There are 168 hours in a week, over 112 of which are spent awake, and around 72 of which spent away from work. Each week, I make a choice what to do with those 72 hours. How many of those hours will I devote to studying ____ (all-in availability, in this case)? If I hear a half-hour sermon but then hear 71.5 hours of TV commercials, meaningless radio chatter, etc., how in the world will I remember the message? If on the other hand, I choose to discuss the message over lunch, and daily re-read Acts 28, then well, now we’re getting somewhere!

In your case, you’ve spent 20-25 hours (ref: 2/17/09) of your 72 hours studying all-in availability. You better believe you are going to remember and apply it!

I think it boils down to this: where are we spending our time? Are we saturating our eyes, ears, minds, and time with God’s Word? It’s no wonder that HE commanded His children to breathe His Word!

Deuteronomy 6
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 11
18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

This is one reason I think God has blessed the parachurch ministry of Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). In one week, a class member will read and write a segment of Scripture for 3+ hours (take home lesson), speak out that Scripture for an hour (discussion group), and hear that Scripture for an hour (lecture). It’s still an uphill battle, since that’s only 5 hours out of 72, but it’s a start.

Take courage. God has called you to bring the message, but He has called each individual to respond to that message, and He will hold each person responsible for what they do with that message.