It was a great weekend at Mission Church! I got some great feedback after my message (but that’s usually the only kind you get).
Our lead pastor Mark sat me down for a few minutes after my first sermon and offered me this advice:
“Work on the first 3 minutes and the last 3 minutes… the rest is great.”
Then after my second sermon he sat me down for about 20 minutes.
The next day my sermon was about 40% different than it was the day before. I had scrapped my opening illustration and replaced it with a personal story (that I now agree was a better fit). I had also bailed on a whole lot of the context of Luke 15, and spent more time encouraging people to take a step towards God, who was ready to come running off the porch in their direction at first sight of repentance.
I’ve gotta be honest— it was difficult for me to make the changes. I really loved what I had prepared. I had worked hard on it. But I REALLY respect the opinion of Mark. He’s a rock solid teacher, he knows our church body better than I do (of course he does), he has been teaching for a lot longer than I have, and its no mystery why God has him in the position he does.
I came home on Saturday night and made all sorts of changes, which was nerve racking to say the least! I was worried that I would show up on Sunday with nothing to say. But I just sat with the text, opened up my speaking notes, and was confident God would do whatever he wanted.
Teaching is brutal, especially in front of people who don’t know you very well. I LOVE teaching my students. They know me, they get me, they are my people! But I came home exhausted on Sunday… but encouraged because I know that I did my small part in sharing this amazing gospel.
It really is good news after all.
I am teaching in our main service at Mission for the first time this weekend. Ironically enough, I’m teaching on the passage that I taught on during my interview weekend at Calvary. Mark and I were talking last month about what message would be a great fit for this weekend (which is a baptism service), and he picked this passage. I couldn’t be more excited! We’ll be wrapping up each of the services with a whole bunch of baptisms that will take place during the final songs. Our worship pastor C.J Bergmen has some amazing songs picked out to complement the message and the baptisms.
I’m sure that most of the people who come this weekend will have heard the story of the Prodigal Son. Maybe all of them. Maybe they’ve heard about the wandering sheep or the lost coin. But this is one of those stories that should never get old. I love what Tim Keller says in “The Prodigal God” about familiar stories like this one:
“One of the signs that you may not grasp the unique, radical nature of the gospel is that you are certain that you do.”
Dallas Willard put it another way in The Divine Conspiracy:
“Presumed familiarity breeds unfamiliarity.”
Just when we think we “get it”, God peels back another layer of this beautiful gospel.
It really is good news… no matter how badly it gets misrepresented by picketers and “pastors” from Tempe.
I’m grateful to be in a place where they trust me to teach from the main stage. Mark has me scheduled to teach once a month for the next 5 or 6 months… but I think he wrote it in pencil HAHA! I’ll try not to be horrible. It’s really hard to mess up Luke 15, but I’ve seen it done.
I will be including some childish (moderately inappropriate) humor in my sermon though, just to maintain my youth pastor’ness. Stay tuned 🙂