Last week I issued an invitation to ask me questions that perhaps you wanted answered. As part of my coach training and practice, I have become increasingly aware of how often leadership becomes aloof and at times unresponsive to those that are being led. My request for topics comes out of a commitment to ensure that I am accessible, and my desire to address the needs, concerns and questions you have.
When I felt my calling to serve as a Pastor I made a significant commitment to God and to myself that I would maintain a deep connection with the real lives of those whom I am called to pastor. I have sought throughout my ministry to establish a connection in every aspect of congregational life that is intimate and not aloof.
I became keenly aware of this dynamic when I was given the honor of preaching at the Washington National Cathedral. I have to admit that when I was first asked to preach I thought to myself, “I better up my game.” I found myself thinking about this sermon in a different way than I do every other time I preach. Thankfully, as I was considering the sermon and prayed, I was convicted by God to do things the way I would normally. This took a great burden off of my heart, mind and spirit. I was reminded in that moment that I have been given a certain gift and distinctive means of expressing the Word. To try and do it another way would be disingenuous and unfaithful.
It was truly an interesting experience but I really wasn’t nervous. I did feel a bit more pressure when I discovered that the Dean of the Cathedral was going to be part of the service. Nerves weren’t really the problem. The real issue I had was actually my need to have connections with the congregation. The grand setting of the Cathedral gives you a sense of the spaciousness of God. It is truly an awe-inspiring place to worship. Yet, as the Verger escorted me to the pulpit, I came to the realization of just how important my link with the congregation is in my preaching. I was reminded that sermons I preach are more than just a one way conversation. I hadn’t realized just how important being able to connect with the congregation through eye contact, body language and a deep knowledge of their situations was to my substance and style. I also became aware of how that connection helps me to sense the presence and leading of the Spirit. In the midst of the sermon at the Cathedral, I found myself needing to adjust my style. The physical space and distance changed the dynamic of connection for me. The intimacy of our sanctuary makes it easy to survey the response of the congregation.
This isn’t a commentary on the worship of the Cathedral. In fact, I would welcome the opportunity to share the Word in that setting again in a heartbeat. I share this with you so you may gain insight into one of the dynamics that builds the foundation of our worship together. I am thankful for this unique aspect of my preaching. I also wanted you, the gathered people of God, to know just how important your participation in worship is. My experience of preaching in the Cathedral highlights my belief that the sermon is a conversation and not a monologue. Thank you for being part of the wonderful interplay between God, congregation and preacher each week. Your presence is a gift to me and everyone else who is part of our worship.
Have you ever wanted to get Pastor Geoff’s views on a certain topic?
Pastor Geoff is seeking your input on topics to be used for his blog and this mailing over the next few weeks.
Email, Facebook, Tweet or call him with your ideas. your topic will be selected.