Speak to the Pilgrim

winding-roadBeing the pastor of a church that was created to reach people who have given up on or don’t like church, I have to speak differently. I can’t assume Bible or theological knowledge, and even more so, I can’t assume “buy in.” People are skeptics or at least questioning. And since we aren’t just trying to get a batch of those folks in and up to speed so that we can  move on this is a permanent, not temporary, mode.

Here’s the question I get asked and struggle with a lot: How do you create a worship experience, especially the teaching/preaching part, that meets the needs of those totally new and even outside faith, and those who are now in and ready for more? Can you speak to both at once?

My answer: Yes you can, and here’s how. The temptation, and even the downfall, of many established churches full of established believers is to speak to where people are in their faith, and that creates a split between the different places people are spiritually. Lyle Schaller says this is what we call “preaching to the choir.”  Think about it… faith is process, it is either growing and changing or dead. In reality there is little difference between the person who is new to faith and the one who has a long history. We all have a long, long way to go.

I aim at the movement of my target; flying, not sitting ducks. I don’t preach to where any one (seeker or believer, if you want to use that language) is, but to the movement within them. We are all on a winding road that takes attention, practice, skill and grace. None of us can see down the road too far, and it should never be an option to stay where we are right now.

Preach to the pilgrim, the sojourner, the learner, the restless within each person and yourself. That is what we all have in common, it binds us together, and it is the place that God’s Spirit is most at work.

I’d love to hear the reactions of people who hear my preaching. Is this a concern or a frustration for you? What works or doesn’t work for you? I’d love to hear!

Other preachers… what do you think?

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5 responses to “Speak to the Pilgrim

  1. Your preaching last week (2/8) was thoughtful and bold. It was bold but gentle, strong but kind – challenging us to use the grace we’ve been given and take action. Your words were respectful – spoken with a trust that we would understand our challenge to not just feel/experience God’s love, but act as people who desire to be God in the world.

  2. gotta say it—as one preacher to another–you’re preaching to the choir! I like the moving target imagery

  3. Thanks. At least someone is reading!

  4. Kathleen Green

    Happy New Year Pastor Precarious – Stumbled upon your site this morning while on the Kiva page contemplating the start of a New Year. From what I have read here so far – I’m compelled to say Thank You!

    A little on me so so you will understand why people like you are so precariously precious to people like me. I don’t care which come first; the chicken or the egg. Whether I called on God before He called on me or whether it was his constant never ending presence in my life (yes, God I know you’re there, now leave me alone). I can not tell you the date and time that I submitted control of my life to God – (nor do I care if God is keeping a tally of my many failed attempts at this). God has stood inside of me and shouted that “I AM HERE”(when I thought I was all alone) “YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD” (when I questioned my identity). God has never asked me to convince or convert my friends, family, or foreigners – only to Love, to forgive, and to Love some more. When people call me “Christian” – I cringe. The connotation frightens me. When people call me a Christian, I ask them what they mean by “that”, I encourage dialogue, I delve to distinguish between hyperbole and their heart – or sometimes I just laugh and walk away.

    Haha – I’m rambling(again) – so onto my point; Jacobs Well and the woman that scoffed at Jesus. This story use to piss me off before i realized that Jesus was a Suffragette and before I saw the Utube “Woman at the Well” {Erica Moon}.

    I mean c’mon man -she’s working her ass off and Jesus wanted her to get HIM a drink of water – (typical “man” bullSht!). But I wasn’t listening and I wasn’t hearing.

    Eventually I came to know HER – an outcast of outcasts, the very “least” of her people, a realist, scared, alone, a fighter, a survivor( she reminded me of me.) At the well, alone at noon – because a woman of her stature, or her reputation was not welcome at any other time.

    Eventually I came to know HIM – whom arrived at precisely the right moment – not when “all the women” were there, but when only she was. Armed with the knowledge of her life – not to condemn her but to show her Love, Mercy, and Grace. Armed – not for destruction. Armed – for Love.

    There is no defining place, no defining moment to mark my “Christdom” BUT…at Jacob’s well, I find that I am not forgotten but am Known and that despite what is “known” I am Loved. I find Christ.

    To be Known is to be Loved and to be Loved is to be Known – otherwise, what’s the point of doing either one of them. (quoted from that Utube video -from which I have memorized every word)

    And so Thank You….

  5. Kathleen, thanks for taking the time to share your story and insight. I love the fact that it is possible for people to be radically open to how and where God might show up and Jesus might be found, and at the same time be truly focused, connected and committed to the life of faith.

    Keep in touch! I’d love to hear more.
    Precariously yours — gm

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