The presidential nominating conventions have just concluded, marking the beginning of the fall campaign. As I watched the conventions (yes, networks, I was one of the 37 people who actually tuned in this year), I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if television covered a church service the way it covers the party conventions.
Pastor: Please take your Bibles and turn to Genesis…
Peter Jennings: While there’s a lull in the action, let’s go to one of our floor reporters who is interviewing a participant.
Sam Donaldson: Thanks Peter. I have here Fred Fumble, a deacon here at the church. Mr. Fumble, what’s your take on the sermon so far?
Fred: Well, I’ve never cared much for Genesis sermons. Course, our pastor could take the sermon on the mount and turn it dry as dust!
Sam: Sounds like the pastor is going to have to work hard to win over this tough crowd. Peter?
Peter: Speaking of the pastor, he’s now into his sermon. Lets listen in:
Pastor: … and so, when God started looking for Adam …
Peter: We’re going now to another reporter who is with a long-time member. Cokie?
Cokie Roberts: That’s right, Peter. I’m here with Thelma Lou Buttermilk, who has been a member of this church for 84 years, including 53 years of perfect attendance …
Thelma: If it hadn’t been for that silly hip operation …
Cokie: Whatever. Miss Buttermilk, how do you think the pastor is doing so far?
Thelma: Oh, we have a great pastor who gives good leadership for our church, except for all the new folks he’s been bringing who don’t quite fit in, and that music director he hired who sings a bunch of new-fangled songs that I never heard before, and that sermon he preached last Sunday, with that illustration about monkeys or some such thing I didn’t really follow, and …
Cokie: Back to you Peter.
Peter: Sounds like the pastor is into the heart of this sermon about now:
Pastor:… so it is clear there is only one thing God expects, which is…
Peter: Lets hear from our roundtable of homiletical experts, with a discussion already in progress:
Talking Head 1: Oh, yeah, well you have no idea what you’re talking about!
Talking Head 2: And you don’t have the sense God gave an acorn! Why if I was …
Peter: Thanks for those insights. Sounds like the pastor is winding up his sermon. Let’s go back to the podium.
Pastor: … and, as a result, we all realize that the secret to a happy and productive life is …
Peter: Any last thoughts, Sam?
Sam: Seems to me that we aren’t hearing much substance in this sermon. I think it’s going to be a tough time as he stands at the door after this service!
Peter: That will have to be our closing comment. Thanks for joining us tonight for our in-depth coverage of the service. Now stay tuned for “Who Wants to Be a Billionaire?” starring Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.
The Preaching family extends our thoughts and prayers to the family of Dr. B. Clayton Bell, who died on July 4. Dr. Bell retired last year after many years of service as pastor of Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas. Dr. Bell has been a member of the Preaching Board of Contributing Editors since the magazine’s founding in 1985, and has been a participant in our National Conference on Preaching. We will miss his participation in and support of this ministry.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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