Friday, April 25, 2008

That Kid Can Preach! Or Can He (or She)?

Hey All,

Recently, I was asked to be a short sermon at our Statewide Fine Arts Festival. This was my first time judging this category so I had only a vague idea of what to look forward to. Fifty-two sermons later I could barely think. I think it is awesome we had so many want to undertake the task of many of us take for granted every week.

I sat through 3 hours of short sermons. I heard passionate young people one after another share a 5-7 minute sermon on our year long theme: Everywhere. I either don't have to go to church for the next year or got my 52 messages for the next year. These teens were sharp looking, sharp acting and are a credit to their respective youth ministries.

I heard teens take the theme in various directions.

10% of the sermons I heard were focused on subjects like abortion or missions.
20% preached on various parables and on David and Joshua, 50% were on revival and our need to share Jesus everywhere.
20% I'm not quite sure where they were coming from and
0% made love or grace the central theme of their message.

Now, the point: Of all the messages I heard; I did not hear about the love of God as a central message. God's love was mentioned but was not the central focus. In fact, not only was love not the central theme of any message but neither was God's grace. Aren't those attributes of God that are everywhere or should be? Many of the messages left me feeling discouraged. Many of the messages hammered at the fact that we are not good enough or do enough. Is it possibel that is what we have been communicating to our teens and they are just mimicking us? That being said, I understand that I am not good enough and never do enough. I need to hear a message like this once and a while but 52 times (exaggerated) in a row?

I did hear compassion in a few voices. They were not the fiery one's. They were soft and calculating. They were thinking as they spoke. They looked me in the eye as if they cared for my soul. Isn't that what we're shooting for?

Let me preface this section by saying this:

1. These are teens, I get it. But these teens are the same teens we want to go to foreign countries and share the gospel.

2. This is a competition. Each teen brought their A game. I get it.

3. These teens are gifted, sincere and passionate. I do not want to dampen their enthusiasm I want to help focus it. The scriptures says zeal without knowledge is not good (Romans 10:1-3)

This begs us to ask our selves, "what are our students learning from our preaching and how we are preaching it?" I guess I am proposing the larger question as a denomination. As spirit-filled group of believers, what kind of preachers are we raising up? Are they going to preach a revival birthed out of love an grace? Or a generation that's all smoke and no fire? Or all fire but no love and grace to balance it? I don't know but the scriptures tell me:

"Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person." Colossians 4:6

Let's mentor these young preachers as Paul mentored Timothy. They have a message, a story. Let's help them declare God's story and share their own story seasoned with grace and love for a hurting world.

Let the sparks fly,

Paul Turner

These views are that of the poster and does not represent the views of our District, other FA judges or The Assemblies of God.

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