Friday, October 10, 2008

Starting Church

The past month has been really quite full. It’s seen a lot of changes. I’ve started seminary, refreshing my stale greek and hebrew, putting in a couple of sleepless nights hashing out my own synopsis of what preaching is biblically. Seminary is a forty-five minute drive north of here (and a 90 or so minute drive on the return trip!). That’s ratcheted up the degree of tension on my schedule.

A bigger change, however, occurred on September 5. A month ago I signed onto a project with a church located in Chicago’s southern suburbs (Bolingbrook, to be exact). The church is an old church (the second oldest in the Chicago area, according to the plaque in the history room). It’s full of families that have lived in that community since it was still dirtroads and cornfields instead of chain restaurants, big box stores, strip malls, and an Ikea. It’s a sweet Presbyterian congregation that reminds me much of my days at Cedarville United Presbyterian Church during undergrad.

But it’s also a church that hasn’t purposefully changed with the community. It has an aesthetically beautiful, large building that is awkwardly empty during most the week. This, I surmise, was part of the initial impulse to create my position.

I am the new director of young adult ministries. At this point, I don’t think anyone understands my role as just shoring up the giving-base of the church. That’s certainly not the way I understand it. Instead, the goal is to give birth to a young, growing christian community in the shell of an old one.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Theology of Preaching

I'm attending a required introductory course on preaching this semester at my seminary. One of its requirements was to make a first pass at a theology of preaching. I have many reservations about the traditional way christians have sermonized (to cite a couple of examples, it perpetuates a power differential in the church that Jesus seems to have abolished in his death and it is traditionally monologic, making need dialogue difficult as we try to discern what God is doing in our times). But I think this essay tries to bring preaching back into the common life of the church. I draw heavily on 1 Corinthians 14, Romans 12, and Ephesians 4--all passages dealing heavily with how christians are to live together.

I'm posting this here in hopes to start some dialogue about the practice of being christian together in all the interpersonal and unavoidably primitively institutional implications this practice entails. Read on, then, but be forewarned that this text is a bit long. (Note: I'm having trouble getting my footnotes to format correctly here; please be advised that not every thought nor all the research is original to me. If you'd like to know to whom credit is due, contact me and I can provide that information. Or consult the bibliography at the end.)
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