Thursday, January 24, 2013

What's your point?

A few years ago I was around an individual who would always ask when challanged by a statement he didn't like, "What's your point?"  He said it so often that it really became annoying, and the way he said it showed his dislike for whatever you had said.  It soon climbed up my most disliked comments list right beside "Whatever."  However, I find I often ask that question soon after I've left a worship service.  As a judicatory minister I am often in a different church every week, and many times I've wondered what the point of the message I just heard.  I've never been bold enough to ask the pastor that question, but it is one I frequently think about on my return home.

The sermon may have been well constructed and quite biblical, but if it doesn't challenge people to do anything I have to wonder what the point of the message was.  It's not uncommon to hear pastors complain that their people won't do anything, but those same pastors should be asking themselves if they've ever challenged the people to do anything.  A sermon should challenge people to do something.  They should be stretched out of their comfort zones.  When I was a pastor I tried to give every sermon my "So what?" question.  Here's the information I'm going to give them, but so what?  Is there anything here to make them think differently or to act differently?  Will this message lead to action on anyone's part, or will everyone return home inspired to eat lunch?

I never did this as a pastor, but I really like the Communication Card concept Nelson Searcy uses at The Journey church.  He asks every person attending the service to fill out the card at the end of the service and turn it in.  The cards can be used to gather a lot of information, but one thing on the card is a way for every person to respond to the message in some tangible way.  Every message Searcy preaches calls for some type of response, and the card gives people a good way to respond. 

I think it also sets the expectation that people will respond to the message.  As the pastor closes out the message he or she can remind people of the cards, suggest several ways they could respond to the message, and then ask them to fill out the card and turn it in.  Do that often enough and people begin to expect that they will be asked to respond to the message.  People are much more apt to do what is expected of them.  Communication cards can set a high level of expectation, and the result may well be that more people become involved in the various ministries of your church.

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