Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Preacher That Didn't Preach

Wow! Talk about your oxymoron. Most of the time you can't get a preacher to stop preaching. How rare is it that you can find one that doesn't even get started?

Last week I found myself in the awkward position of getting ready for an evening service at a youth camp but feeling led away from the message that I had prepared for the evening. It was the first full day of camp and I found the morning break out sessions to be very challenging. As a matter of fact, it was extremely unfortunate that there wasn't time in each of them to respond to the lessons that had been taught and learned.

The feeling that this situation needed to be rectified and the students needed the opportunity to respond to the messages they had already heard that day wouldn't go away. I have to say that it is hard to set aside a message that you've worked on and I often have a difficult time figuring out the direction that God is taking me. To be fair and in keeping with the theme of no masks, I have to admit that Tuesday evening's message was the one that I was least prepared for. Maybe it was God's way of letting me know that it was an unsatisfactory message or prepared in a manner unworthy of him. In any case, He took care of things.

I went ahead and opened with my "Jedi Mind Trick" (later wished that I would've skipped that, too) and then shared with the students the struggle that I had been having about preaching for the evening. So instead of preaching, I started my time with an invitation to respond to each of the morning workshops. The response was overwhelming.

All-in-all, the invitation time took more time than preaching would have. Students were talking quietly with adult leaders and praying at the altar for one another. As the band came back to the stage and brought us back to the place of worship in music, I slipped outside for a few moments. I was physically drained, emotionally exhausted. I'm still surprised at how draining preaching can be. Often times it's exhilarating. Sometimes it's exhausting. I was moved by the response of the kids -- not their response to me, their response to the Holy Spirit. I seriously doubt that there is much an old fat guy could say to these teens that would move them the way that were moved that night. Only the grace and mercy of a mighty God could do that.

It was a great week. I was so privileged to be called to be camp pastor for the week. Now to live out the challenges from the week. Yes, that's right. The challenges weren't just for the kids. They were for us, too.
Be real about your Christianity. Be "Christ"-like in all you do. Share the truth of the Bible: God loves you and Jesus died for you.

Do it.
Do it today.

John <><

1 comment:

Patrick Hill said...

I've heard some preachers express frustration when they've put a lot of time and research into a sermon that they truly felt God leading them to preach only to have Him change the message at the last minute or not deliver a message at all. It may not be that it was an unsatisfactory message. Perhaps it was the perfect message...for you. It was a message that God laid on your heart that was not meant to be preached at all but one that would draw you closer to Him. It looks like it achieved the purpose.