Sunday, September 14, 2008

"Thirty minutes cannot contain the whole counsel of God"

A favorite story of mine is one I heard decades ago. A young pastor had come to his first church during the winter in North Dakota. As it happens, a blizzard hit and only one person showed up to the service. Frustrated, the pastor was going to cancel the service and let the man go home. To his surprise, the man said: "if I had only one cow show up for feeding, I sure would feed it."

Inspired by this statement, the pastor determined to make this the best service ever.
They sang all the songs.
They did all the announcements.
They took up an offering.
They had an altar call.
The pastor preached even longer than he normally might since he was so fired up!

After the service was over, he asked the man what he thought. Pausing only for a moment, the man said:
"Well, if I had only one cow show up for feeding, I wouldn't give him enough food for the whole herd!"

It is hard, if not impossible, for a pastor to cut down what he will say during a message. In fact, the old adage for ministers was that the hardest part of preparing a sermon is not what was put in but what was left out.

I have been to many services where the pastor "flew the plane well" but just didn't know how to land it. In 30 minutes [or more..........and more.........and more] a sermon could cover everything from the major views on the return of Christ to the best Bible to use to the latest fiction book "not to read" to tithing to views on the Nazirite vow to.................seemingly never ending.

It is almost as if the fear is that if something is discussed but not something else then people may think that all that is ever discussed at this church is that which was discussed first without then also covering the next thing that was discussed. Make sense????

My first college course dealt with communication. The logic went something like this:

"If talking about subject A, I cannot at the same time talk about subject B."

Meaning--if I give a message on giving, I can't also give a whole message on evangelism [or.....hmm....okay.....we can maybe squeeze that in..............].

What can happen is that so many topics are covered in one message that nothing is really covered and people lose interest long before the message has crash dived.

The fear can be that if I do a "stewarship Sunday" it is possible that people may think all we ever discuss is money.
If we do a message on the plan of salvation, people may think that is all we ever cover.
Etc., etc., etc.

I cannot cover it all in 30 minutes--it is impossible to do. Hopefully, what I DO cover will be well done and cause people to come back next week [or, get tapes or whatever if visiting] to hear what will be said on another topic.

I am trying not to complain but this is simply "my view from the pew."

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