And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. – Acts 4:31
Recently, I had the opportunity to share at the local ministerium (a fancy name for pastors getting together to talk about ministry while drinking coffee and eating donuts). I was able to select whatever topic I wanted. I had a month to prepare and so I picked the topic I was struggling with at the time – preaching.
I had been in a funk with my preaching and I thought that if I had to discuss the topic with other pastors then I would spend an immense amount of time preparing and I it would somehow help me determine what was wrong.
It didn’t work.
All the time spent thinking through how I prepare and researching how other pastors approach the craft, did me no good. Well, it did do me good, but not with what I was hoping. I was still struggling.
The morning came in which I was to share. I gathered my things, headed over to the church that was hosting our group, and walked into the meeting room. There was already a small group gathered. I said hi to a few people and then sat down.
That’s when I noticed it. I was the only protestant pastor in the room. I looked down the table and there were three Catholic priests and one Episcopalian priest. I thought to myself, “Great, we’re talking about preaching and my audience is a group of men that use a lectionary to preach. Not only did I waste my time preparing for this, but theirs as well.”
To my relief, two other protestant pastors arrived shortly after my momentary pity party. When I began to share, the first thing I asked them was, “Why do people come to church?” After they gave their answers, my hope was to shock them with a recent Gallup study that reported 76% of people who attend church at least once a month said that sermons that teach them more about Scripture is the primary reason they go. I think I shocked them…I don’t remember much after one of the answers given.
One of the priests leaned in and responded to my question. “I really think that people just want to be inspired. They want to be inspired to change. They want to be inspired by God’s Word.”
Like I said I don’t really remember what happened after that, because all I could focus on was my need to be inspired. God knew exactly what I needed to hear. He used my Catholic priest friend to remind me that my source of passion and boldness comes from the Spirit in me and not from some method of sermon preparation.