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sabbatical thoughts (part one) July 7, 2009

Posted by peterong in Reflections.
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As I return to filling various pulpits in the new york metro area since taking a one year sabbatical from preaching, I have gained a greater appreciation to my role in ministry and the heart that I have to this privilege of preaching.

As I have looked at this gift that I have been given to speak, it has always been an ambivalent relationship. one one hand, it is beautiful in going deep in the exegesis of the text and being able to share it with your church family but on the other hand, I think the celebrity that accompanies it is deceptive and sinfully alluring. for many preachers their sense of success comes from the quality of the reception of the sermon. in my case, i often felt that people equated my character with preaching and those are not necessarily the same. i confess that i often overshoot when i preach. i yearn for the gospel but not necessarily want to make the necessary sacrifices to follow the applications that I set out for others. so, i find myself at wits end because the culture of the church requires ministers to entertain, and be as provocative as their reality tv shows. so they want a good anecdote, a good message that is well organized, a message that is unique and witty. but if it were just that easy.

the words that are being formed around the preaching of the word are sometimes muted by the desires of the congregations and I am so afraid that i am falling into this trap. this trap of wanting so much for people to like me. to be a christian celebrity. but i am learning to speak harder with a prophetic imagination and especially with youth, i want them to go beyond “jesus loves you…” but rather “jesus is love…” and that truth should move us to a profound call to follow and to love with extravagance. (more…)