Blank stares

Who's listening to sermons?
A group of pastors had been brought together by the Episcopal Preaching Foundation to talk and share and practice preaching. It was my turn to address the group, and I had a particular focus in mind. I presented a composite mental sketch of some people whom most preachers know all too well—people who haunt our sermon preparations, trip up our tongues so that we’re left stammering nervously, and bedevil us in the after-worship handshake line. Sometimes we try to pursue them as they deftly slip out a side door. I spoke of the obvious occasions, the Sundays we know that “they” will be there—Easter, Mother’s Day, a baptism in the family and Christmas Eve. But here’s the kicker: they do not want to be there. Their body language and facial expressions shout, “Can we go now?” They are uninterested, unconvinced and certainly unimpressed. How do we preach to them?


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