Last fall a friend of mine attended a lecture at the University of Mississippi delivered by Stanley Hauerwas. His talk was followed by an invigorating, hour-long question-and-answer dialogue. My friend reported that afterward he and some students, another minister and several laypeople went to someone’s house and talked about God for another hour or so. They didn’t talk about Hauerwas or Will Campbell, both of whom are interesting conversation subjects. They didn’t discuss ethics or books or engage in church shoptalk. They talked about God.
How novel. It made me wonder—how many of my people go home and talk about God after they’ve heard one of my sermons on a Sunday? I know they talk about my delivery, who was in church and who was missing, what hymns we sang, and whether what I had to say was interesting or not. But do they talk about God?
Kyle Childress is pastor of Austin Heights Baptist Church in Nacogdoches, Texas, and author, with Rodney Wallace Kennedy, of Will Campbell, Preacher Man: Essays in the Spirit of a Divine Provocateur (Cascade).