It is clear and should come as no surprise that Alaska lay people want and expect their pastors to inspire them through experiential worship with life-application preaching. It is why this is one of my expectations of all our clergy, and it is essentially the title of Chapter Five of Bob Farr's book, "Renovate Or Die."
Bob opens this chapter by citing the rapid rate of change in our world today. While it took 71 years for the telephone to get into 50% of American homes, it took only ten years for the internet to reach 50% of American homes. Given this velocity change Bob believes that current preaching methods must change to keep up.
"I'm not asking us preachers to give up our values or change our theology. I'm asking us to rethink our presentation style. I'm asking us to change our medium to rethink how we communicate, so that we might be culturally and emotionally relevant." p. 45.
Some of the preachers in Alaska remember being trained in seminary to have three points and never talk about yourself. Farr wants to dispel these notions. In fact he believes that people are hungry to walk away from a sermon able to remember a single, main point! And he believes that we must begin with peoples' experience. His outline process is:
We live in an era where people are hungry for authentic discipleship models, so it's not only okay for preachers to talk about their human experience, but necessary if people are going to make a connection.
But it isn't about us. God's story is always included, ending with the story that we are never alone, that we live in a world and faith community.
Farr goes on to discuss how to inject music, video, dialogue, or humor every 4-5 minutes. We need to be multi sensory and work with themes. How pastors plan and include a worship team is vital to inspirational preaching.
I think clergy and laity alike will enjoy chapter five. I am confident that all of our preachers truly want to become better at helping their people connect their real lives to the story of God acting throughout human history.