Still reflecting on ‘that’ sermon from the weekend and the response to it, I started out writing this post after reading some of the negative things that have been said about it from those within the church. That always really gets to me, in-church-division: we should be united around Jesus, supporting each other and working together, yes even in difference, but instead, some of those whose words have impact, chose to be divisive. So I decided I didn’t want to be one of them and instead going in a different direction, but for what it’s worth: I loved the sermon, thought he preached The Gospel to 2 billion people and totally nailed it.
That sermon got people talking, and not just Christians but a huge range of people, with comments like, ‘wow is that what church is like?’ or ‘I’d go to church if all preaching was like that…’ so, a friend and I put together a list of 10 top tips for those who had been touched by the sermon and wanted to know more. But then I thought, well what should our response as a church be? Or as church leaders? Or as Christians? So here’s some thoughts for churches on how to capitalise on all this interest. Now these are not full on evangelism, but suggestions of starting points to engage people, perhaps a stepping stone to something more. Some might work in your context, some might not, and if you’ve got more ideas, let me know, I’ll add them in.
1. First up, recognise this is a huge opportunity. Stats suggest that 3.4 million tweets were sent during the wedding and the most tweeted moment was not Meghan arriving, the dress, or even the first kiss, but Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon with 40,000 tweets per minute. So, people are interested and asking questions, so go on and take the opportunity and act now! I think the key is to engage people, not just invite them to church but get them talking, show them church can be interesting, relevant and lively – surprise them maybe.
2. Get your congregations in on it – tell them not to waste this opportunity – it’s so easy to start a conversation with a non-Christian friend by asking them if they watched the Royal Wedding for example… Maybe you could send out an email to the church with some ideas of what they could do this week?
3. If you haven’t already, why not reference the Royal wedding and the preach in your church social media/email/website? and do it THIS WEEK! People are talking about it NOW so strike while the iron is hot.
4. You could even share the video of the preach or the text of it with your church and with the wider world. You can find it here and the full transcript here.
5. Why not put some signs up outside your church inviting people to come and find out more if they were inspired by the sermon or the wedding.
6. Go hang out in the local pub or café and chat to people, if you’ve got a dog collar wear it – I am sure you will get some people asking you about the sermon and off you go with conversation…
7. Host an informal discussion somewhere in the community (local community café, pub, village hall, ie: not necessarily the church). Maybe ask some simple questions like, ‘what did you think of ‘that’ wedding sermon? Or: ‘inspired by the royal wedding sermon? Want to know more, come along…’
8. Or go one further, +Michael said: Imagine our homes and families where love is the way. Imagine our neighbourhoods and communities where love is the way. Imagine our governments and nations where love is the way. Imagine business and commerce where this love is the way. Imagine this tired old world where love is the way. Why not host a gathering asking people how you can help facilitate a neighbourhood and community where love is the way?
9. Send out an invitation to come to church next weekend using the Royal wedding and/or sermon as your hook eg: ‘think THAT preach was good? Come and hear ours…’ you could follow it up with a discussion/grill the vicar time, over coffee and cake. And for those saying you are not sure why people are surprised as there are lots of preachers like that in the UK – there are some, yes, but ask yourself are you one of them? You don’t need to preach like someone else, we all have our own preaching style, but 3 things that +Michael had that we can all have are: authenticity – preach as you are; integrity – preach it like you mean it; and Jesus – mention Jesus without being afraid, he is kind of important after all.
10. Feeling braver still? How about asking people to rate your sermon next Sunday?! – use some of the public quotes that are around, to help you, for example Piers Morgan, Ed Miliband, Miranda all tweeted about it – there are a few quoted by ITV here. You could ask people which one are you? You could even hand out feedback forms!
11. Have you got a school visit this week or an assembly – engage the kids, ask them what they thought or what they remembered about the preach. Richard Watson who is hosting the @OurCofELike this week, did just sat this morning with great results…
12. For a youth group or older assembly you could make some nice graphics out of a few quotes from the sermon and ask them to think about which they liked most and why. An easy and free graphics editor (aside from Instagram, and if you are not on insta but are doing youth ministry then you need to be…) is Canva.
13. Do you do weddings at your church? Then let people know and use the Royal wedding as a prompt.
14. Put posters up around the parish asking people to join in a conversation online – use questions that allow open answers, not just yes or no! Something like: remember what it feels like to be in love? (as the Bishop asked) and point them to your social media with a suitable hashtag.
15. Also, finally, make your posts/posters etc look better and more engaging by using images – check for copyright, don’t just use on you found online – websites like Pixabay give you the option to download photos for free, on a range of themes including weddings.
So there you go, just some ideas and do send me any others you have or let me know if you try any out, be great to hear how you get on.
Martin HortonMay 21, 2018 at 8:18 pm
Loads of fantastic ideas and thank you for putting this together. I watched it and loved his sermon. If I’d have been there would have found it so hard not to stand up and shout AMEN at one or two moments. I run the Wycliffe Bible Translators twitter Prayer account, any ideas on how we could use this to inspire people to think about God’s word and more importantly those that don’t yet have it in the language they know best? Thanks again.
JulesMay 22, 2018 at 8:09 am
great! what’s the handle? I’ll take a look. Did you mean by using the sermon or just in general for the Twitter account?
Charles Ray McNinchMay 22, 2018 at 7:40 pm
It’s one thing to evoke the power and beauty of love to encourage one’s hearers along the road of life we share together “under the sun.” Nevertheless its the duty of every minister to keep straight those facts necessary to the Christian Faith. We must not get carried away with our own rhetoric. In that regard let not confuse God’s love for the world he created with the scope of Christ’s atonement for sin. The sacrificed love death of the Son of God may indeed be costly enough to purge the sins of the world – but the fact remains that Jesus Christ did not die in order to “save everyone” or else everyone would be saved. We know from his own speech and the exposition of the Apostles, that unless we are ‘‘born from above’ we are dead in our sins and trespasses – will will remain in that state into eternity without the forgiveness of sins and the eternal that God has bought and paid for in Christ. Universalism is a pernicious weed in the garden of love and delight. The radical nature of the Christian message is that Christ died for those he came to save. The efficacy of his redemptive work on behalf of Adam’s fallen race is limited to those whom God has called to love him. Christ’s merits and my inclusion into them as a sinner saved by grace, is the guarantee of the Holy Spirit, who causes me to hold for truth all that the Bible says about who Jesus is and what he accomplished by way of a miracle. True and saving faith is a gift from the Triune God assuring me of my inclusion in the benefits Christ accrued for the people of God. The irony is that this message of ‘inclusion’ is ‘excludes’ all other means of salvation. To talk of love and forget this is, from the perspective of the Christian Gospel, nothing more than a “noisy gong or a clanging cymbal”.
JulesMay 22, 2018 at 8:03 pm
Hi Charles. Thanks for your comment but I’m not quite sure what you are saying here. Are you saying the offer of God’s saving grace is not open to all but only to a select few? or are you questioning whether +Michael actually preached The Gospel? Because on love itself he said: ‘The reason has to do with the source. We were made by a power of love. And our lives are meant to be lived in that love — that’s why we are here. Ultimately, the source of love is God himself…’. Further he mentions Jesus; the Greatest Commandment; Jesus dying sacrificially, for us, in love. I’m not sure what else you wanted?
I think he took the message of biblical love – which can be pretty incomprehensible to those who do not know – and made it comprehensible. He used examples that people who are not used to church, would understand. He got people listening and talking. Now maybe he didn’t mention every Christian doctrine, he didn’t actually do an altar call, and maybe he didn’t mention grace; but what he did do was get a large portion of the world talking about Godly love, he did that in less than 14 minutes, and at a wedding, oh and at a royal wedding too with 2 billion people watching. *mic drop*
I’m sorry if I’m sounding a bit antsy but frankly I feel it. If someone had told us all before he spoke, that in 15 minutes time half the world would be talking about God and love, church, preaching etc, I think we’d have all been in disbelief. But that’s what he did. If we could measure the power of those 14 minutes in evangelism terms it would be huge. Pick holes if you like but I bet you he just bought a bunch of souls into the kingdom.
EdetJune 5, 2018 at 6:39 pm
Always good to discover another Christian who is doing a great job for the Lord on the internet. God bless you.
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Thanks. Remain Blessed.