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Preaching Re-Imagined Copyright 2005 by Doug Pagitt Youth Specialties Products, 300 South Pierce Street, El Cajon, CA 92020 are published by Zondervan, 5300 Patterson Avenue Southeast, Grand Rapids, MI 49530.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Pagitt, Doug, 1966-
Preaching re-imagined : the role of the sermon in communities of faith
/ by Doug Pagitt.
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN-10: 0-310-26363-8 (pbk.)
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-26363-0 (pbk.)
1. Preaching. I. Title.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible:
Today's New International VersionTM, TNIV Copyright 2001, 2005 by International Bible Society. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Portions of text copied from Preaching and Preachers by Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
Copyright 1972 by Zondervan Publishing. Used by permission.
Editorial direction by Carla Barnhill Edited by Laura Gross Proofread by Janie Wilkerson and Kristi Robison Interior design by SharpSeven Design Cover design by Holly Sharp Jacket photography by David Studarus Author photo by Sarah Sampedro Printed in the United States
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SECTION ONE ANOTHER PREACHING BOOK?
I am sitting inside the Open Book writing center in Minneapolis on a summer day in 2004. My head is full of wonderings. I wonder who you are. I wonder what kinds of people will read a book about preaching in the emerging church. I wonder if I have anything to say on the topic. I wonder if I have written a single line of any value. I not only wonder, but I also worry. I worry about the opinions of people who don't think a pastor and author of a book about preaching should worry about things. I worry about people reading my sometimes-uncertain thoughts on preaching. I worry about coming across as someone who thinks of himself as an expert---someone who knows more than you and will tell you how to preach. So please, as you read, keep your worried, wondering author in mind.
I am a pastor who seeks to live in a community of people who are living out the hopes and aspirations of God in the world. Like many of you I play a particular role in my community. As the pastor I'm often referred to as 'the preacher.' And frankly, this is a role I no longer relish. There was a time when I did. There was a time when I felt my ability to deliver sermons was a high calling that I sought to refine but didn't need to redefine.
Those days are gone. Now I find myself regularly redefining my role and the role of preaching. I find myself wanting to live life with the people of my community where I can preach---along with the other preachers of our community---
but not allow that to become an act of speech making. Instead I want it to be a living interaction of the story of God and the story of our community being connected by our truth telling, our vulnerability, and our open minds, ears, and eyes---all brought together by the active work of the Spirit of God as we 'Let the message of Christ dwell among (us) richly as (we) teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in (our)
hearts' (Colossians 3:16).
If I had my way, this book would be a conversation about these desires. Instead of your reading something I wrote, we would talk over a meal or in my family room or at your house. We would hear from one another and build on what each other says. While a book cannot be a full conversation,
my hope is that I will at least add to the conversation you may well be already having on preaching.
Please don't let the title of the book, Preaching Re-
Imagined, throw you. I'm not prescribing a method for all churches of the future. In fact, I'm quite sure there is no one method. However, I am suggesting some deep considerations about the function and role of preaching within our communities of faith that will lead to particular practices---but these are not one-size-fits-all prescriptions. And in no way do I mean to suggest that I speak for all who choose to engage in preaching in the emerging world.
Throughout the book I suggest 'progressional dialogue' (a phrase I made up) as a preferable alternative to
'speaching' (another new word meaning 'the style of preach-
ing that's hardly distinguishable from a one-way speech').
In the spirit of dialogue I have designed this book to be as conversational and progressional as possible.
HOW TO READ THIS BOOK The book isn't structured like a typical chapter book. It all begins in the next chapter where I lay out my basic premise and provide reference links to the 40 sub-sections that make up the last four sections of the book. Each subsection is designed to provide a more comprehensive discussion about a point I made in the opening chapter.
Section 2 is also loaded with statements that may cause you to say, 'Hang on a minute,' or, 'You can't just say that without supporting it in some way.' That's the intent.
Much like a conversation where the participants push one another to say more on the topics in which they have an interest, the next chapter is meant to get the conversation started. That being the case, I have included reference numbers within the text of section 2. These are not footnotes but rather clues as to where you can find more conversation about a particular point in later sections.
From there you can either continue reading the rest of the book from start to finish, or you can jump between the points that interest you the most. For example, you might not be interested in the story of how I became a preacher but would prefer to go right to my suggestions on rethinking the role of the pastor. If so, you can skip point number five and go right to point 23.
I admit that part of my desire to structure the book in this way is to justify my own reading habits. I do this with books all the time---just skip around and read the parts that interest me in the order that seems most interesting to me. Sometimes I don't even read all of it. But I feel like I'm cheating or missing out on something by not following the prescribed order.
In this book, however, not only are you not cheating,
but you're also encouraged to skip around as well. You won't miss out on something by doing so. In fact, I hope you'll gain something by taking the conversation wherever you want it to go. I've created a Weblog for those who wish to explore the ideas in this book with other readers. If you'd like to join that conversation, head to www.PreachingReimagined.
The book is also designed with more open space than usual. This is to encourage you to write your thoughts,
to talk back, to not just sit there and take it. Put your ideas on the paper right next to mine; they belong there. In fact,
they're needed. As part of the process of writing this book,
I read a number of books about preaching. Over and over I found myself scribbling notes in the small margins---things like, 'Yes, totally!' or, 'No, no, no.' But I felt like a vandal writing where my words weren't wanted, as if I was somehow defaming the book. On the contrary this book should not be left in its impersonal, published form. If it is, then it hasn't done its job of engaging you in the conversation.