The World's Worst Sermon
It is probable that every preacher has memory of a sermon that did not go well. I am among those who lay claim to the World's Worst Sermon.
Not long after the first building program was completed in 1982 a Sunday night sermon left me shaken. By the time the benediction was over I was out the side door, across the parking lot, into our parsonage and retreated in the darkness to a chair in the corner.
I was not mad at God nor the people. I was not ready to quit. I was not depressed and did not need a therapist.
What I needed was for everyone to go home. For me not to see anyone. For me not to have conversation pretending.
Most folks left, though more than a few asked what happened to the pastor. None thought the Rapture had taken place. Laila came into the apartment (part of the church complex) calling for me and turning lights on. I politely asked her to leave the lights off and allow people to go home. I explained that I was OK, just needed privacy.
By morning I was re-surfacing. I am an exhorter by nature. I bounce back quickly. But my bounce did not change my opinion of the Sunday night sermon.
Monday night came. A good number of parishioners met at the church in an unscheduled meeting. I was puzzled. They did not ask me to attend. In fact they indicated they would like to meet without my being present. It was not a threat. I did not go.
Later I learned that the meeting had been called because of love for me as a pastor: "We have to develop a plan to lift some of the load off the pastor," they said.
That meeting was one of the momentous turning points of Covenant Church. Leadership was initiated. I learned that God has talented people who love Him as much as a pastor loves Him!
I often think about the consequences of my "World's Worst Sermon!" i.e., tremendous change that is now part of the culture of Covenant Family.
Sermons are powerful. But sermons are not the totality of a church's movement. I am convinced that the most powerful lessons Jesus taught his disciples was in daily discourse, e.g., walking through a corn field, talking about a fig tree, taking a child to sit on his knee, asking disciples thought-provoking questions, etc.
As Covenant journeys this season there is a manifest effort for sermons to be cogent, insightful, inspiring and motivational. Between sermons there are multiple bodies of believers meeting and voluntarily assuming powerful roles of ministry.
Pastoral staff members are regularly contacted by persons asking for the privilege of volunteering. Life Groups are training leaders. Discipleship leaders are choosing curriculum to raise up leaders. Fine Arts, Family Life, technology and international ministries are recruiting and training leaders.
I see no need for preaching another "World's Worst Sermon." The Holy Spirit is raising up men and women who have a passion for changing the world, bringing people to Jesus, building strong families and insuring that Covenant will be powerful in another generation.
The level of excitement is rising. We are blessed beyond our deserving. There is a harvest and we intend to be in the harvest fields!
Word-centered. Prayer-driven. Unified.
Covenant is headed toward FINISH of the building program with excitement for the sweet rewards to come as we share Jesus with our friends, community and beyond!
In the near future we will have grass where there was mud, tile and carpet where there was dust and tools, sofas and chairs where building materials were stacked, and conversations and Bible studies where machines and workmen once drilled, hammered and painted.
God will honor what we have done. We did not venture for our glory. We have sacrificed to invest in the future of persons, families and our community. We trust to be stronger and more generous to missions.
FINISH of the building is the launch of the purpose for the building.
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven," (Matthew 5:16).