I was recently asked to preach at a church going through a topical series on church membership. I was asked to preach on the church member’s duty to pray.
As I was studying and writing I kept getting stuck on this reality: this sermon was being written purely for Christians.
I even had a short paragraph in the sermon manuscript, thanking non-Christians and visitors for attending, but, somewhat apologetically, noted that this would be more of an “in-house” message, for those who called this church home.
I thought this reality inescapable. The topic demanded it! It was on church membership and prayer, for goodness sakes! You can’t get much more Christianee than that.
Now, I didn’t want to exclude non-Christians. When I preach, I always try to preach and articulate the gospel with both Christians and non-Christians in view, knowing that both will be in the pews. But how could I preach a sermon that had a strong apologetic and evangelistic bend, while preaching on what seemed to be such a Christian focused topic and text?
I took a walk.
And this is what popped in my head: this sermon must be apologetic and evangelistic. It must be. It can’t be a sermon for Christians, because there’s no such thing as a sermon for Christians.
Now take it easy. I know there are Christians in my church. I know that preaching is a means of grace for disciplining Christians. I know that sermons are meant to feed the sheep, exhort and encourage and mature those who know Christ.
The text and topic weren’t limiting the target audience to Christians; I was.
While writing a sermon for Christians is hard work, writing a sermon for someone who lacks a Christian background, vocab, and worldview is even harder. It simply takes more work, more thought, more creativity to translate the sermon from basic-Christian-speak to average-Canadian-sceptic-speak.
Think of the advantages of putting in this extra effort:
- As you preach in this fashion, you’re not only preaching to both Christians and non-Christian, but you are training your people how to think and translate the Bible into their workplaces and neighbourhoods.
- You’re keeping the gospel fire ever-lit. You won’t take a Sunday off where the gospel of grace isn’t preached and enjoyed from the pulpit. There’s no text or topic, not matter how Christianish (at first glance) that won’t exalt a resurrected Saviour who for love takes the place of his people and gives them new life in the Spirit.
Pastors and preachers, keep it up. Work and start working harder. There’s no such thing as a sermon for Christians.