Propreacher has them.
Your Christmas sermon is a big deal!
The eternal destination of many who will sit in your Christmas service hang in the balance.
Are you ready?
Here are 20 questions that you should ask yourself before you preach this Christmas:
1. Have I prayed over my message, completely given it to God, and asked for the Holy Spirit’s guidance?
2. Have I faithfully interpreted God’s Word without addition or subtraction?
3. Is there a clear, direct presentation of the Gospel?
4. Do I need to explain or simplify any terminology?
5. Is this a message written for believers or non-believers?
6. Can I summarize the purpose of the message in a sentence?
7. Is the message focused on the purpose or are there unnecessary tangents?
8. What do I want people to do as a result of hearing this message?
9. How do I want people to feel as a result of hearing this message?
10. Is it too long?
11. Have I included anything that will make people laugh?
12. Have I included any engaging stories or illustrations?
13. Is there anyone I could (or should) ask for feedback on this before I preach?
14. What have I done to equip my people to invite people to hear the message?
15. Who have I personally invited to come hear this message?
16. Have I asked my church to be praying for the salvation of others, and have I personally done the same?
17. What is my strategy for getting people to come back to hear the next message?
18. Is there any sin in my life that I need to repent of before I call others to repent?
19. Have I fully prepared and practiced?
20. Is this the absolute best I can do?
Msgr Charles Pope writes:
Some years ago I was stationed with a priest who, while he often liked my homilies, would often critique my use of what he called “fear based preaching.” Perhaps I had warned the congregation of punishment for sin, or even let slip that certain things were mortal sins that would exclude one from heaven and land them in hell. I would often playfully remind the congregation that missing Sunday Mass was a mortal sin by saying, “Go to Mass or go to hell.” I would also warn that fornicators would not inherit the Kingdom nor idolaters nor adulterers nor those who practice homosexuality, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (cf 1 Cor 6:9).
Of course I was quoting Scripture and preaching out of a voluminous biblical tradition of warning texts. Nevertheless, the older priest would often wag his finger and say, “Ah that’s fear-based preaching…fear based!”
Perhaps it was, but so what?
So opts Damien Thompson, who blogs:
There’s plenty of scepticism about the Ordinariate – especially since the careful circulation of a quote attributed to former Cardinal Bergoglio saying he didn’t see the need for it. Well, we shall see. Pope Francis – who would never have encountered Anglicans in the Catholic tradition in Latin America – now finds himself head of the Ordinariate in three continents; his spokesman has said that this will be a permanent structure of the Catholic Church…
One of the treasures of Anglicanism that the Ordinariate can bring to Rome has nothing to do with vestments or prayer books – it’s the tradition of the Anglo-Catholic “slum priests” who carried the Gospel to the darkest alleyways of Jack the Ripper’s London…
The whole piece is here.
On the eChurch Blog:
Last month Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill lamented Orthodox bloggers publicly insulting each other, which I can only imagine must be an Orthodox phenomenon as it doesn’t happen in Catholic or Protestant Internet circles:
…that the diversity of ideas inherent in church circles sometimes assumes absurd forms in the Internet environment.
“In the web space groups of church liberals and conservatives are appearing that are not looking for the truth, divine truth but a means of finding fault, stinging each other. This is a very sad tendency,” he said at a diocesan assembly in Moscow ahead of New Year.
He said that divisions and feuds within the church “are evidence of infantility, childishness in faith which sometimes assumes ruffian forms.”
It would now seem the good Patriarch is advocating the strategy of sowing wheat among the web-tares:
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on Saturday lamented a high number of antichurch internet posts and said the Russian Orthodox Church he leads should be present in social networks to tell the truth to its audience.
“Blogs and social networks give us new opportunities for the Christian mission” at a time when the Church comes under attacks more often than before, the patriarch said. “Not to be present there means to display our helplessness and lack of care for the salvation of our brothers.”
“Now that social media shows a huge interest, although not always a sound one, in church life, our duty is to convert it for a good cause, to create conditions for young people to know about Christ, know the truth about the life of people inside the Church,” Patriarch Kirill said.
“When a person makes a query on church life in an internet search engine, he finds a lot of lies, hypocrisy and hatred,” the patriarch said at a meeting of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Bishops Council in downtown Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.
“These are the visible results of activity by the enemy of mankind,” he said.
This of course comes hot on the heals of the superb address given by the Pope on social media, which I think can be summed up as follows:
“Go into all the digital world and preach the good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15 with slight modification)
Interesting in that the Patriarch and the Pope are of the greatest Christian spiritual leaders of our time, and they have seen and identified the potential of social media for the good; unlike others who would simply suppress and basically wish away social media in its various forms like the blogs. Perhaps it is time to elevate our thinking and realise the ‘new opportunities for the Christian mission’, and not simply sit around with our heads buried in some dusty old liturgical books. The cause of Christ and his Gospel must be furthered. There are souls to be saved. And the Church should be making good use of the opportunity for building platforms of social influence that extend well beyond the four walls of the Sunday experience.
Wright is always worth listening to.
… against the common evangelical message that the bulk of Jesus’ preaching about God’s Kingdom is lost in an exclusive focus on: “You’re a sinner. Jesus came to die for your sins. Believe in Jesus and you’ll go to heaven.” In our interview, when Tom Wright turns to his criticism of the beloved C.S. Lewis, readers will find that his critique focuses on this very point.
Read it here.