Leaving Fundamentalism, Day Four

The UNwelcomed Church Guest…

Sermon Evaluation Forms

IFB sermons not cutting it for you? Try some sermon evaluation forms!

As you seek a church home, sermon evaluation forms can help you study sermons objectively and consistently. They keep a record of what sermon was delivered when and where. Any pastor can come up with a hot sermon [whether it is his or not], and most have occasional duds. Build up a file on each church you consider seriously. Review them before a decision.

Sermon evaluation forms are readily available. Some are simple, some are complex. None are perfect, but many can be studied to advantage. Study several to be acquainted with technical issues. You may then want to construct a form meaningful to you. Google some forms or try these:

Developed by Tim Keller
From the Orthodox Presbyterian Church:
From a Roman Catholic priest in the Jesuit order
From Seventh Day Adventist tradition [pages 8-10]
From the Evangelical Presbyterian Church [an MS Word document].

If you need an excuse to break with your Fundamentalist sect, a month of sermon evaluations will probably furnish all the grounds you need!

What’s out there

Your church search may reveal a wide range of styles and abilities. Some sermons are didactic and read like Paul epistles. Some are allegorical and as playful as the Psalms! Seminary instruction on sermon preparation and homiletic strategy changes with each generation. But whatever style is employed, some questions remain timely.

  • Is the pastor truly disciplined by this passage?
  • Does the message throb with God’s own heart?
  • What good news has the text for our liberation?
  • What is revealed of God’s work and character?
  • How does the sermon incarnate God’s kingdom?

Know What you Want in Sermons

Some seminarians must learn Hebrew and Greek. They master the grammar and syntax of these languages and use lexicons effectively. They translate the passage to be preached, discern its timeless principles, and observe where and how said principles intersect with modern society, churchly ethos, and congregant lives. They deepen study with insight from Biblical, exegetical, systematic, historic and patristic theology. They drive a wedge into the text. They reach through that crack to enfold and draw hearers into the Biblical world. Situated in the passage, people find their own thoughts and attitudes, dreams and agonies, longings and lusts, blasphemies and prayers woven throughout the narrative. There, they hear the Spirit’s call on their lives proceeding from the lips of Jesus.

Others need a King James Bible, a certificate of ordination, a street corner or a few people in some Fundamentalist sect. This difference matters.

Those who know the difference tolerate nothing but expository preaching. They will rise up, demand and have it, or they will leave. Know what YOU need to hear to be nurtured and challenged in your faith walk with God!

How is the Homiletic Diet?

Many languish under the tyranny of the pastor’s pick of texts. If a pastor has a fetish for legalism or prophecy, well … you know the story.

Believers need a varied diet with texts from the OT and poetic books [as Psalms], epistles and Gospels. But this tends not to happen without a plan. But there is a plan. It is called a ‘lectionary.’

A lectionary is a plan for preaching through the Bible in 3 years. Years A, B and C stress Matthew, Mark and Luke respectively. John is dispersed throughout all years. Lectionary systems also follow the church year.

Each Sunday has an Old Testament reading [or lesson], a response from Psalms [thematically related to the OT lesson], a second lesson from the epistles, and a Gospel reading. Psalms are read, read responsively, sung from a Psalter, sung as Anglican plainchant, and more.

Some churches use all four readings. Sermons are based on one or several of the readings. Readings usually follow books, so there is continuity from week to week. This builds congregational Bible knowledge.

Whether or not a prospective church uses a lectionary, look for a church that offers the Biblical diet and preaching you need to grow your faith.

15 thoughts on “Leaving Fundamentalism, Day Four

  1. “How does the sermon incarnate God’s kingdom?”

    Can you please explain what that phrase means? I have only ever heard the word “incarnate” used to describe Christ’s virgin birth.

    1. Dear First time caller:

      I use the word ‘incarnate’ to mean that the kingdom of God becomes visible, apparent in the world around us, that its grace, freedom and glory are evident to all. We, the church, as the body of Christ embody the presence of Jesus Christ in the world –and in that sense, make incarnate– the liberating grace, teaching, goodness, life and [as necessary] the death of Jesus Christ in, to and for the sake of the world. You now have a fair idea of what my take on ‘kingdom’ looks like! 😉 You can also see that a concern for issues of peace and justice are very much at home in this view of kingdom. As I see it, good preaching sets such a view of kingdom before us, calls us toward it, and orients us in it. Blessings!

  2. I love the lectionary. Sermons neither bounce randomly about scripture at the pastor’s whim nor get stuck interminably on the Book of Life or Ephesians 3 while the pastor wrings every last bit of possible meaning out of it.

    I grew up with expository preaching, but it was the type of expository preaching that generally focused on one book of the bible for months or even years at the expense of everything else.

    1. Ha! Yes!

      When I was in high school, my pastor spent 2 and a half years in the book of Philippians. 4 chapters. I was SO relieved when he finished, until he announced his next series would be on Hebrews. I left for college shortly after that. 🙂

    2. Dear CaffeinatedSquirrel and First time caller:

      I take it that the word ‘tyranny‘ especially resonated with you… LOL! Blessings

  3. What does “is the pastor truly disciplined by this passage?” mean? Do you mean that the passage is helping the pastor in his own life, not just applying it to congregants? Or do you mean that the pastor is well disciplined and diligent in his study of the scripture?

    1. Dear WorkinMama:

      You got me! I can see that both senses fit! While taking nothing from the first, I was thinking more in the second sense — that the message arises from and is shaped by the text. When pastor is finished and sits down, we should be able to look at the text and at the message and see a strong likeness between them. In other words, no more ‘read some text and then say whatever I’m interested in at the moment.’ Blessings!

  4. I’m in an evangelical church where we don’t use a lectionary, but there is a plan to preach through different books of the Bible during the year, both Old and New Testament. The teaching pastors get together, pray much, and present a theme the encompasses the different preaching texts. So, in the last three years, we have had the minor prophets, John, Philippians, Ephesians, Ecclesiastes, and highlights from the Psalms, among other sermons.

    My first Fundy church took three years to go through Romans.

    1. Dear Karen Glovka:

      Thank you for visiting Stuff Fundies Like!

      A lectionary [there are several] is a useful tool. It isn’t necessary, but the Biblical diet such as your evangelical church uses is. That’s the heart of the matter, as you surely realize from your former Fundy existence.

      Ideally the overall church worship program is attuned to the preaching schedule. That way, songs and hymns, prayers, church school lessons, etc. can be geared around the text to reinforce the message of the day.


    2. This is one reason I do love the lectionary. The other is that I have an Episcopal friend who goes to a different church in a different state, and we can discuss the readings and hymns for the day because we had the same ones. It creates a feeling of unity among brethren (sisteren?) even if we don’t go to the same church.

      But the main point is to cover a lot of scripture, and it sounds like that’s what’s happening. Essentially, your pastors are creating their own lectionary. 🙂

  5. I grew up in a church that did have expository preaching (though from time to time I was exposed to the ranting and raving; thankfully, my dad had no patience for that.) It wasn’t as extremely slow as some of you experienced, but I was used to hearing a passage read at the beginning of a sermon and then explained, usually with three points, often alliterated.

    I’ve been visiting a church where the pastor’s message is well-crafted, biblical, and encouraging but which is far from a three-point outline. It’s strange for me to adjust to that sort of preaching. I’ve been noticing how well-written the sermons are as he returns at the end to a theme or subject he mentioned at the beginning. I’m realizing that the sermons I was used to would be more what people would expect from a Sunday school class or a Bible college class. I’m enjoying the different style.

    (This last Sunday, the pastor closed the sermon by reading from the story “Guess How Much I Love You”: “I love you to the moon . . . and back.” LOVE IT! I’m still reveling in focusing on God’s love for me versus endless instructions on how to live.)

    1. Dear usedtobepastor’swife:

      I think you’ve hit on something in understanding the spirit of preaching [i.e., reveling on God’s love]. Thought you might be interested in this… He speaks effectively and with feeling, minus the ranting, pawing the ground and threats to charge… Blessings!

  6. OMG I’M SO HAPPY!!!! I was just perusing the comments on Darryl’s last SFL post when I stumbled across the link to this revitalized SFL. I feel like my 40 days in the wilderness is finally over! (Any way to contact Darryl to see if he might make one more SFL post on the old page directing folks to this one? I imagine there are a lot of folks like me who check the original SFL periodically to see if…maybe…hoping against hope…Darryl has come back, and don’t bother reading the comments on the last post. Just a thought.)

    1. Dear Free Will Catholic:

      You should be able to contact Darrell at the forum part of the blog. I contacted him under the ‘tech support’ section to inquire about his intention regarding the old blog. I wanted to be as certain as I could be that he was indeed finished before I tried launching something new. Many have ‘fallen away,’ but we also pick up some new followers. I still have much to learn about maintaining a site. I haven’t asked Darrell about another post redirecting to stufffundieslike.net because it seemed self-serving to me. But if others wanted to broach that … well … I can’t stop them. That said…

      Lent is indeed over; Eastertide is upon us! Use the ‘search’ on the right of the page and check out one of the Friday Challenges! And welcome to SFL [continuing]! Blessings!

  7. Yes, it’s great that CS has established this new SFL site. I’m grateful. Not so much because I’m struggling leaving the IFB (which I left decades ago) but because I can keep up with some of my old friends like UsedtobePastorsWife to make sure that they’re doing ok.

    For my part, I’m enjoying retirement from being a police chief. Spring has sprung in Alaska and I’m looking forward to fly fishing and camping.
    Love to you all,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *