Monday, March 01, 2010

How to create a dialogue in church

It's been great to read the responses to my post on Lent with Stanley over on Facebook - especially as they're from members of my congregation!

What is really encouraging is the genuine hunger they reveal for having their lives shaped by God's word. This is, of course, music to a preacher's ears. So thanks for your responses.

For those who haven't picked this up on facebook, here's what people said:

Sara said
I have never commented on someone else's conversation but have been thinking about this a lot. If you guys want to know what is happening as a result of your sermons you have to ask. If there were a bit more testimony about then you would feel better and others would be inspired. My suggestion is to ask 5 people to feed back to you the next week what they thought God was saying to them in the sermon and how it played out during the week. We would all become a bit more accountable and focus on God changing us and our circumstances.

Becky said
Feedback and more testimonies....i like it! It is always great to have more people from the congregation involved in the services. .....and I would also love to have a 'bit more' to the sermons...I've been listening to a series of hour long sermons and they have been really challenging me - although i do pause and rewind and relisten fair amount!...not sure that would go down well in a Sunday service!

And Rob suggested longer sermons!

So, this week, I'm going to be working on a simple questionnaire/feedback form to give a few folk the chance to respond to what they've heard which could then form the basis to a testimony slot a week or so later that would enable people to hear how people's lives are being affected and shaped by what they are hearing.

It would also give the preacher the chance to clarify and expand on things said so that over a period of time a genuine dialogue between preacher and people would develop.

Yesterday, I had a number of people say to me how helpful the sermon was. This is always great for a preacher to hear but what I wanted to ask everyone who made such comments was 'So what? What difference is this sermon actually going to make to you this week?'

Well, some kind of feedback form would help me get a handle on this which in turn would help me to shape future sermons in the light of reactions to former ones.

And a regular testimony time would give the opportunity for people to say what they were learning, how it's affecting their daily lives at work and challenge the preacher to develop thoughts or even return to material that hadn't been clear enough first time round.

It's quite an exciting thought.


Anonymous said...

It's very very important that people's testimony is related to the teaching and not just a 'God's been good to me this week (which is great to hear but not challenging enough)

Unknown said...

I think as churches we're a bit behind on the feedback stakes. Most live programs like the news and BBC's question time have a forum for the viewer to participate in the conversation/ news report.

I think the team have come up with you version live event so people can participate with the preacher.

I like the idea, and I have experimented, but the idea of participating doesn't seem to appeal to church church I'm part of (yet).

Craig Gardiner said...

I do not disagree with all this Simon but I do detect in some pastors a reluctance to regular pastoral visiting which is where these conversations can naturally occur. Testimony time I think works as long as it is not hijacked or left to drown in predictability: sometimes we have the midweek bible study (called Going Deeper) deliberately reflect on last Sundays preach

simon said...

One of the problems with the old pastoral model that had ministers preaching on Sunday and then visiting during the week for follow up and the talking thropugh of issues with thsoe who had heard the word is that visiting is all-but impossible because of the working lives of most members of the congregation.

If ther are out from 7am-7pm and then have household duties of child care, shopping and house work to do, a visit from the minister is tricky to fit in.

The midweek gathering can be a place to go deeper with those able to make it. And we've certainly found this to be the case with our recent three-parter on money.