Worshiper after hearing Diane Moffett preach: That was a good sermon.
Diane Moffett: We’ll see.
I love this story from the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett because she encapsulates the importance of impact in the 21st Century Church. If we are not making an impact that brings authentic change, “a good sermon” is merely an interesting talk.
This is also true regarding so many activities of the Church: the book study, the Bible study, the dinner, the fundraiser. Our congregational calendars are full of activities that show how busy/successful we are when the reality is that we are merely enriching our own minds and social networks without holy impact.
These kinds of activities are killing the Church. It feels like we are doing something. And yet if what we are doing doesn’t change our own hearts and minds, much less our communities we need to stop.
What we don’t need are:
- Task Forces that finish a task (or not) and yet their work has zero influence regarding who we are as a Church.
- Film Series that entertain us but fail to inspire community action.
- Speaker Series that make us smarter but nothing changes in our behavior or spiritual practices.
- Youth Programs that delight the kids but do not deepen relationships with other kids or adults or God.
- Bible Studies that we find inspiring but our behaviors remain the same.
- Fundraisers that cover the general budget but the neighbors are still hungry.
- Branding plans that make our congregation/denomination seem more impactful than we really are.
If we are serious about gutting systems of racism and sexism, if we truly hope to uproot injustice that hurts the poor, the uneducated, the sick, “the least of these” then we have hard work to do. A book study won’t cut it. A speaker from the local college won’t make much of a difference.
Those things are helpful in preparing us for the task at hand. But they are not – in and of themselves – the task God created us to do.
We have to speak up and act out – in the image of Christ. Please remember — my friends who complain when the pastor is “too political” — that Jesus confronted the political powers for the sake of setting the oppressed free. You can look it up.
Yes Jesus comforted the afflicted but his healing miracles were controversial. He dared to heal a bleeding woman and lepers. He dared to touch the dead. He told outrageous stories (parables) that have become so tame in our hearing that we forget how they infuriated First Century hearers. His sermons would offend the Purple Church.
And so let’s honestly ask ourselves:
- Was it a good sermon?
- Was it a good program?
- Was it a good meeting?
We’ll see. We’ll see if the fruits of those events make a difference in our broken world.
Screen with a list of church announcements that make me tired.