How to Preach Real, Relevant, Relational and Revolutionary Sermons
The Absorbed Reading of the Text
It is remarkable that someone growing up in the C. C. C. can hear the same Bible stories and have them interrupted in Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Youth Group, Summer Camp, Youth For Christ, Young Adult Studies, Adult Sunday School, Bible Studies, Retreats and Sermons—and hear the same thing said about the same verses every time.
There is no significant variation. It might start out being told by puppets and flannel graphs and end up being told with acoustic guitars and finally by boring or exuberant white men, but it is always the same. Over time nearly every text is covered.
It is like a vaccine. It contains just a little bit of the truth; it is given over time until the hearer is inoculated against being infected be the Good News in any text.
By the time a Contemporary Christian is an adult any one of them could teach a Bible Study or lead a Youth Group or preach a sermon.
They have absorbed the Contemporary Christian Culture reading of the text. One might not even remember studying a particular passage but when they encounter it the Absorbed Reading surfaces. What is remarkable is that they still are able to continue to think they are encountering something new or something valuable.
There are passages of scripture that Contemporary Christians come to fear because of the absorbed reading. Contemporary Christians read these passages quickly, absently with a nervous smile and darting eyes. They are only prevented from confronting the horror in them by the evangelical fallacy. Because if they were to fully considered the absorbed reading of these texts they would be overwhelmed by the hopelessness of state of their souls. More so they would be overwhelmed by the horror of the God that continually condemns them. Or they would have to confront the nearly subconscious itching and jerking reaction of their mind to reject them.
With these I have found that it is sometimes best to embody the Contemporary Christians worst fears. To tell them what they want to hear. Tell them, it is really all about them and their ability to be good. I preach the absorbed reading of the text hard, like I love it and then flatly call it a lie. Or when I am brave enough I never call it a lie. I just preach the horror and give a few clues to remind them that God is not a horrible beast.