I am always trying to do anything in my power to make the preaching of the word of God not boring.
I have heard some really boring sermons in my time. And that is a damn shame (literally!). As one of my mentors used to say, “it is a sin to bore people to death with the greatest story ever told!”
I do not claim to be an expert in this, but I do claim to try. For my sermon today I preached on the ascension from Acts 1:1-11 and I used chairs to illustrate my point. Here is what the sanctuary looked like as people came in for worship:
The sermon was scripted to begin something like this:
I thought I would begin today with a profound theological reflection…. About chairs… There are all different kinds of chairs. And the kind of chair you choose to sit in can say a lot about who you are, where you are, and what you are doing.
[Sit on Desk chair]
So if you saw me sitting in this first chair here. What would you think that says about who I am? There’s some potential ambiguity here because people in a wide variety of fields sit in a desk chair. You would usually see a chair like this rolled up to a desk though right? So it says something about one who might sit in it. Whether it relates to a job or not they are probably using this chair when sitting at a desk and working on something. Desks are where work gets done and desk chairs are what we sit in when we do that work at that desk. So it says about me that I might be in an office or a study when sitting in this chair.
[Move to folding chair]
If I were sitting in this chair what might it say about me? Probably that I am sitting at mass produced tables that are able to host a lot of people. I am probably sitting at a table made of similar material to this chair and probably in a larger gathering of some sort. I may be at a Church potluck or a conference of some kind.
[Move to floral patterned chair]
If I were sitting in this chair what would it say about me? Perhaps that I am sitting in a doctor’s office or in an old fashioned sitting room at Grandma’s house. Maybe I am sitting in a church foyer or a trendy clothing boutique. Maybe I am sitting in someone else’s office who likes to express themselves with their office furniture.
Like I said, where you sit can say a lot about who you are, where you are, and what you are doing. Some context would help a lot. Most of the time we don’t just find chairs like this all stacked up one after the other without any surrounding context. But you get the point still.
[Sit on Throne] Now….. What about this chair? This isn’t really a chair is it? What would you call this? That’s right! A throne!
Now like the other chairs it would help to have a little more context surrounding the throne, but it’s a lot less ambiguous than the other chairs isn’t it? If I sit in this chair, what might that say about who I am? Yeah! A king (or a queen) of some sort. Where would I probably be located if I were sitting on the throne? Yeah! In a palace and/or a throne room. What kinds of things would I probably do if I were sitting on a throne? Yeah! I would govern my domain, make laws, and rule over the kingdom.
Where you sit can say a lot about who you are, where you are, and what you are doing….Keep that in mind as we read from the text for our sermon this morning….
[The bold are instructions or scripture prompts. I write my sermon manuscripts – obviously – for the ear and not for the eye so don’t judge my grammar or rhetorical flourish. Also the “…” symbolize a pause of some sort.]
In my exposition of the text I go into more detail about how the ascension anticipates the session of Christ. That is, it anticipates his being seated on the throne which indicates his glorious and victorious position at the right hand of the Father where he controls the universe from. I think it really stuck in the minds of people because I preached almost the entirety of the sermon while sitting on this make-shift throne. [Huge shout out to my friend PJ for making this throne a reality for Sunday morning!]
For how it actually turned out you can listen to the audio recording of the sermon here. I really enjoyed it and I think it hit home for a lot of people. I don’t think anyone is going to forget the Sunday they saw the ascension!
Never be afraid to try something outside the box in your preaching. Anything you can do to engage the hearts and minds of listeners is a good idea!