I am currently attending the final day of the Winter Conference of Bishops, where our closing lecture is from Shauna Hannen, professor of preaching at Southern Seminary. She has just outlined a simple yet wonderful idea that I wanted to share with you. Form a preaching preparation group that includes people in your community who are not a part of a faith community. If I were in the parish, I'd be all over this idea.
Here is the outline of how to do it.
- Gather five people from your congregation to be a part of a short term, say four week group.
- This is not a study group or a periscope study group this is a faith exploration group.
- Find one or two people in your community who do not go to church to be a part of the group.
- have the group meet off site I.e. Not in the church building.
- Pick one of the texts for Sunday, just one, probably the more narrative type text, such as the gospel.
- Maybe have this group engage in conversation over a meal or at least coffee and tea
- As you discuss the scripture I have found that asking 'What do you wonder about in this story?'
- As the leader of this group, you are not the master of all knowledge, you are the facilitator. Your task is to help people explore the interaction of the story with their story.
- if people share an illustration from their lives, and you are thinking of using it in a sermon, you can ask the person for permission to share it in your sermon. Or better yet, if they can be invited to tell their story during your sermon.
Try it for four weeks, then let people go, and find another five to six people for a new group.