Gottesdienst

Gottesblog

A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Either/Or

jester-boy-juggling.jpg

Pastors, you can either conduct church services, or you can be entertainers. If you try to combine them, you will fail at both.

If you must dress in hipster civvies, use gimmicks, and/or crack jokes in front of an audience - at least have the respect for our Blessed Lord to do it at open mike Friday at a local comedy or karaoke club. Let worship be about Jesus, the forgiveness of sins, and eternal life - and not about your need for applause.

And the same goes for “relevant” preaching. Your sermons can either be “relevant” and entertaining, or they can be efficacious and cruciform. Both as a captive layman, and as a colleague and pastor, I have had my fill of “relevant” preaching. Guys, it’s just awful. Deep down, you know that it is. Stop it!

I wish I had saved a copy of a sermon that I once heard online from a former local pastor (who was also a synodocrat) who yammered on, no lie, nearly the entire sermon about what kind of pizza and chicken he liked. I am not making this up. Did he even ponder the text? Does he even believe in Christianity? This “sermon” is the stuff of Dante’s nightmares. He mentioned Jesus in one sentence at the end of his egocentric culinary stream of consciousness. It was a scandal.

“And here, O Poet, you will find ‘relevant’ preachers of pizza and chicken, and, of course, some select members of the Bureaucracy…”

“And here, O Poet, you will find ‘relevant’ preachers of pizza and chicken, and, of course, some select members of the Bureaucracy…”

That’s what the word ‘relevant’ actually means when you see it on church websites. And you don’t have to take my word for it. Most of these ‘relevant’ churches post audio or video of these churlish homiletical trainwrecks.

And by using the adjective “relevant” to describe gimmicky, comedic presentations, the implication is that actual preaching, like what you will find published in Gottesdienst, is irrelevant. But we know that God works through actual preaching of His Holy Word. How can it be anything other than relevant - in the true and eternal sense of the word?

Please, guys. Either be a preacher of the cross (1 Cor 1:18, 23) and a steward of the divine mysteries (1 Cor 4:1), or go and be an entertainer somewhere outside of the sanctuary.

Just be sure to tip your bartenders and waitresses.