In fundieland, new years’ resolution sermons are as predictable as a new calendar itself. But in some cases, calendar reading will be more inspiring.
Since IFBs follow no acknowledged liturgy, and since next Lord’s Day is also New Years’ Day, in addition to prayers that Emperor-elect Caligula will make Babylon great again, I expect more than a few IFB New Years’ Resolutions sermons of varying quality will be heard. To my knowledge, there is no exegetical basis for linking calls to deeper commitment to God with the secular calendar. This doesn’t mean that IFBs won’t ‘find’ them.
No IFB pastor I know says that we can be perfect. But I’d guess that more than a few secretly believe we should be striving for it anyway. And as there is always room for progress, so there is always room for ‘guilt’ because we’re less than perfect. So you have a basis for a resolution! And if not for the new year — when? Can you think of a better time?
New years’ resolutions sermons needn’t name specific sins. Hearing the MoG say ‘YOU know…’ is enough to free the imagination to embrace all kinds of resolutions. And if you don’t adopt at least a few, you clearly lack any sense of resolve. So again, And you have a perfectly fine resolution!
A standard Pauline list of vices also gives plenty of material to coax or direct the law/guilt ridden member. And with youths just entering puberty, there is always:
How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You’ [Ps 119:9-11].
Oh, and don’t leave out the women either. Some of them can be desperate sinners! Then there are the ghosts of failed New Years past resolutions. Thankfully, IFB pastors will never lack abundant issues about which to make the dirty feel dirtier and the guilty, guiltier.
Since IFB pastors are so good at dishing out new years’ resolutions, they should have some fortitude to hear a few of their own. And since local IFB preachers are often inclined to ‘guide’ you to find the resolutions which must suit you, YOU get to design some resolutions for your fundie pastor.
This can concern professional issues such as how he uses his time, how he practices accountability in the congregation, how he serves God in calling, doing general pastoral work, calling on the sick and dying, ministering to the bereaved, relates to the community, etc. Or address his relationship to his wife and family and/or young women in the faith community.
Also fair game is how gracefully pastor accepts criticism, or whether he accepts criticism, how he responds if challenged on a point of theology or practice or politics. It can even be on how pastor represents Christ to the community, including how he addresses identity issues such as gender, race, origins or employment status.
This year, pastor should resolve …
Let him have it … er … have at it!