On Wednesday I headed up to ANTS for the inaugural Great Preaching series with Rev. Peter Gomes preaching. He was everything I expected and more. I have been scheming for five years to get up to hear him, but every chance I get he is away preaching somewhere. Finally I was able, boy am I glad.
He began with his amazement that folk still come to church to hear preaching; week after week they come to hear you preach. Despite all of the media and avenues available folk still come to hear preaching.
He then proceeded to preach a sermon with three points. He said it was not the classical three point sermon, for that never existed. He preached a one point sermon stated three different ways.
1. Clarity. Mark at the top of each page the point you want to get across. Be clear.
2. Conviction. Actually believe what you are preaching. A preacher actually convicted by her/his own sermon.
3. Christ. The question is not what would Jesus do (to all who have paraphernalia with the WWJD on it: burn them). The question is not what would Jesus do, that is a dumb question; Jesus could do anything and did. The question is what would Jesus have me to do? And that should be the Christ of the sermon.
That is in a nutshell what the Gomes had to say. In between he had all kind of great Baptist stories, Harvard stories, growing up stories and the like. He said that he was a Baptist who reads. I think that ought to be a new denomination The Reading Baptists.
He also talked about preaching sermons that he wished he had heard as a student in college. I think all the time what kind of sermons I wished I had heard growing up instead of the lame ones I suffered through.
Rev. Gomes preaches on average 40 minutes, about twice as long as I do. He talked about growing up with two services on Sunday and one on midweek (my routine too). And how now folk only go to one service on Sunday morning; most do not attend bible study. So folk are to get all of their religious education in one 20 minute sermon. (He did say that old rule of thumb was the sermon was to be 1/3 of the service. He then stated a saying I had never heard of: One Lord, One Faith, One Hour.) So incrementally increase a minute or two at a time till you have trained the congregation to listen more attentively. He suggested taking them down roads that don't work, back up and then go down another. Have the congregation walk along with you till all are together at the good news.
There are three congregations that one preaches to:
1. that is with you as soon as you begin.
2. those who were once with you.
3. those who will be with you.
You preach like conducting an orchestra, in comes the percussion, then the wind then the strings, by the end you are all playing together.
At the close he stayed around for a few minutes and I asked him about the Anglican Oversoul. He stated how he loved the flow, beauty and order of the Book of Common Prayer, then he raised his hand with his index finger erect and said But I have never left. Thanks for not leaving Rev. Gomes. I then asked about robes and preaching tabs. He strongly urged me to go with the cassock, gown and tabs. Alright, he twisted my arm. I am going to purchase the outfit after the first of the year.