PHILOSOPHY OF PREACHING INTRODUCTION
Good morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor.
Starting new series today called “Fundamentals,” but before we get into that, I want to talk real briefly about what I would call my Philosophy of Speaking, Philosophy of Preaching/Communication…whatever
Kind of a funny thing cuz people have anywhere from no expectations on this topic to insanely detailed expectations
Some don’t care what the speaker talks about as long as he speaks…others insist every sermon must be a detailed verse by verse exposition (3 verses at a time for at least 60 minutes, etc.)
Let me give you an idea of where I am
I think it’s quite silly to be far to one end of the spectrum…
I’m all about balance and I believe my teaching should be the same
Now, I believe in good Bible teaching, so most of the time we will just focus on a certain passage (not always continuously)
But there are also times where you have to look at a broader topic
We’d be silly to not do so…that’s how Jesus and Paul both taught
And we will also have a balance in terms of what and where we focus
So there are going to be months when we really just focus on your heart (like our grace series)
Months where we really go deep into bible knowledge (sermon on mount)
Months when we do theological concepts (heaven series) or Trinity or Free Will
But will also be Months when we really focus on application: Where we look at some topics that are really important to apply
And that’s what we’re going to be doing this month: Each week in THIS series there’s going to be something really concrete that you could do and apply to your life
But do you see the necessity of balance?
I just yearn for the church (I mean mostly the broader church…this is a pretty level-headed church), but I yearn for the church to understand the necessity of balance
Too many people in our churches get hooked on one thing and that’s it:
You have churches that only do application messages:
Every week it’s: 7 steps of fixing your marriage, and the 5 C’s of raising kids
You have churches that only do intense verse-by-verse preaching and nobody except the seminarians understand
You have churches that only talk about complex theology and people learn a lot, but it means nothing to their lives
We must be a balanced church! Deal? OK. Glad we had this talk.
As I said we are starting a new series called “Fundamentals”
Fundamentals is going to be a highly application driven series that’s focused on some fundamental things that I think we need to address
We are now four months old as a church (still just an infant), and I think there are some key fundamentals of the Christian life and Church life that we need to talk about
They are topics that we could do whole series on and maybe will in the years to come, but they are four topics that I felt, “You know what, if we’re going to keep thriving as a new church, these are 4 things we better talk about before we keep moving on continuing on the sermon on the mount and other series”
And, it’s not just that these are fundamental things for our church to talk about at this juncture in its short life, it’s that I believe that it’s the “fundamentals” that really help you live a strong Christian life over the long haul
Now, we are gonna cover just FOUR of what I would call “fundamentals” of the Christian walk, and there are certainly more, but these things are basics, they are fundamentals.
And before you write any of them off, let me remind you of the importance of fundamentals
The idea for series came to me a couple months ago when I was watching Sportscenter
They were talking about the Boston Celtics basketball team…and started a discussion on Larry Bird
Talked about how amazing of basketball player he was and the reason he was so great was not because of his nasty dunks, lightning quickness, or Jordan’s vertical, it was because he was so good at mastering the fundamentals of basketball
He dribbled insanely proficiently, his shot was technically perfect, he rebounded with all the right technique, his bounce pass was perfectly timed, and on and on
And in an era where the NBA was starting to see some athletes with a a lot of raw athletic talent (much more than Bird), he still dominated
And the same principle is true in our walks with God…unless you really get good at some of the fundamentals of faith, you can never really grow
And you have to continue to focus on them your whole life
See, Larry Bird continued to refine and work on the most basic skills of basketball (rebounding, passing) all through his NBA career, while so many other b-ball players practice those in middle school and then never work on them again
And I think churches can look like that once in a while…
We talk about fundamentals like serving, reading the Bible, praying, giving, etc. at the beginning some, and then we think we’ve got them, so let’s just move on to meatier things now
The Bible warns against this multiple times
In Hebrews, the writer is explaining how JC is a “high priest in the order of the high priests of the OT” (kind of a complicated thought), and then he stops his thought and writes this:
(Hebrews 5:11-14) - NIV
11We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
(1 Corinthians 3:1-3) – NLT
1 Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life. 2 I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, 3 for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?
And the commonality between those two passages, the basis on which the people still needed milk was their lifestyle…NOT their knowledge
They weren’t ready for the deep things of the faith because they were still quarreling OR because as Hebrews said, “they still couldn’t distinguish good from evil.”
This is like that passage from 1 Cor 13 you hear at weddings:
(1 Corinthians 13:1-2) - NIV
1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
I think as Christians we think that our need to focus on “complex solid foods” rather than the fundamentals of “milk” is based on knowledge.
Our framework for moving on to the meatier things is based on our knowledge
We think…I’ve already heard this…move on
I KNOW I’m supposed to pray
I KNOW I’m supposed to serve…read my Bible
Tell me more about the nature of the hypostatic relationship of the deity and humanity of the Son of Man
And the Bible is saying…that doesn’t matter…if you’re not really starting to (by the power of God) conquer your sinful nature, if you’re not starting to really live a radically different Christian life), the concept hypostatic union of God is too much for you right now… Get your prayer life in order first… Find a place to serve in the church and be part of a Christian community first
In other words…learn how to dribble and shoot first before you spend all your time practicing a 360 degree slam dunk
When I first got a basketball hoop, my friends and I would often spend most of our time practicing trick shots (eyes closed, from the street, facing the other way, etc.)
And that’s great, but the “eyes closed left-handed shot” never helped me in an actual game very much
And the same thing is true with your faith
Master the Fundamentals. And keep mastering the fundamentals
HE CAME TO SERVE
And one of those important fundamentals of faith is serving. Or, the idea of servanthood
Let’s take a look at what Jesus says about this:
(Matthew 20:20-28) - NIV (explain passage as you go)
20Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. 21"What is it you want?" he asked.
She said, "Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom."
22"You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said to them. "Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?"
"We can," they answered.
23Jesus said to them, "You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father."
24When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Think about that…Jesus didn’t come to serve
The God of the Universe came down to earth…not to be cheered in some great ceremony, or waited on hand and foot and fed grapes, but to serve us…and eventually offer his life for us
It’s actually a pretty crazy concept. Maybe even more than u think
Think of it this way…When high-up politicians, famous athletes, or celebrities come to our turf (let’s just say your favorite one comes to Minneapolis), it’s ALL ABOUT SERVING THEM
There are massive TEAMS of people that make sure they get the best hotel, they drive them around, wash their clothes, and answer of their ridiculous requests:
Got these celebrity requests off the internet this week:
“I need 19 leafy 6 ft. plants. 4 leafy 4 ft. plants, and vegetarian catering”
“White flowers. White tablecloths. White curtains. White candles. White couches. Lowwatt lightbulbs. Coffee to be stirred counter-clockwise. Skittles.”
“One box of bendy straws. One special attendant to dispose of used chewing gum. Tea service for eight. A Honey Bear pack of honey. Two air purifiers. Puppy. Kittens.”
And yet, when the God of the Universe comes (you know the one that could begin and end a life of a celebrity at anytime), he comes to SERVE. To give his life
This is the God that we see in John 13, actually getting down and washing HIS disciples feet.
A menial task. But He came to serve
Think about how crazy of a concept this is. HE CAME TO SERVE.
SERVE LIKE HE SERVED
And as he came to serve, so should we
Our calling as Christians is to be a reflection of Jesus Christ
So that when people look at you, they would see Him
Do you reflect Him in this way? Are you a foot-washing type of person?
Do you spend more time as Jesus said in the Mt. 20 passage we read, trying to get “power over” people or by “serving under” people.
I worry about this in our American culture
For 2 main reasons:
1) Our consumer-mindset
2) Our self-celebrity delusion
As far as consumerism, we live in a consuming world.
We go to massive malls, theaters with 20 screens, have 100’s of TV channels, can order food of the internet straight to our door, can buy any sort of music immediately and listen to it on our computer…
We live a life of consumption all while all of these companies and groups are serving us like we are some sort of celebrity
And secondly, the social networking revolution has only tricked people even more into thinking they are of celebrity status
The vast, vast majority of this church is on sites like facebook where you live a celebrity sort of life…
People stalk your profile like the paparazzi, they know every time you’re sick, 20 people immediately complement you on a new picture or a new change in your life, 147 of your friends wish you happy birthday, and the list goes on
And the scary thing is too many of us feel a little bit too special about ourselves
And our culture has tricked us into believing that WE are the ones that SHOULD BE SERVED.
And I think because of that confusion…we tend to forget about serving others
And the scarier thing is because of that, we don’t always look that Christ-like
Let me ask you a question: Do you think Jesus spent more time serving others or being served?
Now, let me ask you, “do you think you spend more time being served or serving others?”
I think that’s a scary question.
FINDING YOUR SERVING NICHE
Serving God, serving the church, serving the world is a fundamental part of being a Christian
It’s Christianity 101. You can’t read the Bible and not see the concept of “serving” dripping all over it
Pray for others, be hospitable to others, teach others, visit those in jail, feed the hungry, find ways to encourage people, look out for widows and orphans, and on and on and on
Serving is one the most basic/fundamental ways of living out your faith
Don’t get trapped in “American Consumerist Autopilot Mode” where you just drift along and even church becomes something you consume from just like you would from the TV or the mall or some conference
Thanks. That was good to know. Good for my heart. See you later.
Find a way to serve. It’s what you were created for. It’s what you’re called to do. It’s how you imitate Christ. And if you can, find a way to serve using the gifts God gave you
(1 Peter 4:10-11) - NIV
10Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. 11If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
Listen, we could spend a whole series on this (and as I mentioned at the beginning we’re just flying over some critical fundamental concepts), but it’s SO helpful to find ways that God gifted you and THEN serve in THOSE areas
It will change your perspective on service
If I’m honest, whenever I think about serving, or service projects, I kind of go, “meh. Not that excited about it. I really don’t like giving my life to serve other people.” Which is a terrible thing to say.
But a few years ago, I had a conversation which changed my perspective on this
Was at an old friend’s wedding talked to an acquaintance from high school, mentioned I was a pastor…he couldn’t believe I would want to do that
And that’s when it hit me, I’m living a life of service. Which to some people is a HUGE sacrifice, but to me, it’s NOT.
It’s not at all. My job satisfaction w/ being a pastor is through the roof! At least once a week, I stop and say, “I absolutely love my job.”
BUT, I could give you a lengthy list of other types of service that would feel like a huge sacrifice to me, but this isn’t one of them. This is my passion and joy.
And for each of you, it’s the same thing. God has give you joys and passions and gifting in different areas of serving
And our job is to find out how and where God has equipped us to serve
And many of you have found that, and many of you are still searching
And it’s not all about only serving when you like it and it gives you joy
Sometimes it’s hard work. Sometimes there’s nothing fun about it.
There were times when Jesus served…like giving his life for example…those are times where it’s about sacrifice and service because we need to do what is right and what needs to be done
In the NT, Paul speaks to people who are still stuck in slavery, and he says to them while they are in their situation:
(Ephesians 6:7) - NIV
7Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men,
And that is what we must do. Serve. Serve this world. Come under people, not over. And serve this world, and treat each person as if you were serving God, not just another human being.
So, let me ask you, do you have a place where you are serving?
As I mentioned at the very beginning of this message, this is a series that has some really practical applications with each message
We want to provide you with a place to serve others
And church is a great place to do that
It’s not all about that
The message of this message isn’t just “Now serve at church!”
Many of you serve in your community, and with other organizations
And quite frankly, a lot of us could probably step up our Christian witness by serving even our neighbors more..
By shoveling someone’s driveway, or bringing over food, or watching someone’s kids for free, or whatever.
This is not a world full of servants, and we can stand out by being one!
But we also want you to be servant at this church. Not just a consumer.
We say almost every week here: Renovation Church is not a production, and it’s not a show for people to just passively watch. It’s church. It’s a body of believers.
And we want you to be a part of it. To be a servant within the church
Let me give you the basic philosophy of what we want each person to do at this church
It’s simple. It’s just 3 things: Worship, Connect, and Serve
Explain the 3 here at Renovation.
It’s not complicated. A lot of churches make it complicated.
Where do I start? Young adults ministry, or men’s ministry, mom’s ministry, or advanced theology class, or the hunting club, or the finance committee, or the service project brainstorming team, or the scrapbooking club?
Worship, Connect, and Serve.
The philosophy’s not just simple because we’re new, it’s simple on purpose.
We’ve talked a lot about WORSHIP and CONNECT in the first couple months of this church, but Serving at RC is something we’re just starting to mention
There are plenty of places you can plug in and be a part of our world-changing team
If you just started attending here in the last month, don’t feel like you need to sign up for anything…it’s normal to check a church out for a while
But if you’ve been here a while, been here since December, or November, or October, maybe we can help you find a place to serve. To find a place to help make a difference in someone else’s life?
We want to help you find your place, and help you to reflect the servant lifestyle of Jesus Christ!
Let me just pray quick to end this message, and I want to talk a little bit more about where you can sign-up to serve during our announcements.
You can look under your chair right now, and you should see a connection card and a pen. Go ahead and pick those up.
One of the things we do every week at Renovation Church, is fill out these connection cards.
It’s a way for you to connect with us and for us to connect with you.
If you have a prayer request and want our prayer team to be praying for you this week, there’s a space for that on the back as well
Also, if you would like prayer after the service, our prayer team will be available in the back corner to pray for you.
As I mentioned at the end of my message, during announcements (which is right now), I wanted to mention how you can sign-up to serve at Renovation Church
On your chair when you got here were 2 pieces of paper (iServe Form and a descriptions page)
If you didn’t get a chance to look at them yet, take some time to read over the descriptions…you can sign-up in the weeks to come to
If you are interested in signing up to serve in any of those areas, just simply check which one or more, fill out your name, etc., and then you can drop it in the offering cans when they come around.
And then you’ll be contacted by a team leader this week. Pretty simple
But I want to encourage you to: Worship, Connect, Serve at Renovation Church!
Some of these things may seem like small things, but you are helping us as a church (and every area counts) continue to reach ppl for JC, and that is a huge deal!
Idk if you knew this, but it takes 40+ volunteers serving at Ren. Ch. a WEEK to make just a Sunday morning service happen.
Where can you help?
A lot of you are already serving in a LOT of places in this church, but some of you are ready to take a risk to sign-up and serve. And I challenge you to do so.
We are going to take an offering as well
A way for us to serve our God.
If you’re a visitor, feel free to let the offering just pass you by
As the offering goes by, you can stick your connection card in there as well
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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