Friday, September 26, 2008

The Danger of Asking for Input

Back in the day I used to occasionally turn our youth group meetings into Question-And-Answer periods. Rather than preparing a lesson, I would open up the floor and allow the kids to ask whatever they wanted, and I'd attempt to lead the group toward an answer.

In many ways, it was a no-brainer, because the kids always asked two questions. Sure, they asked a lot of questions, but in the end, they were always about the same two things:

1) Sex
2) Other religions

And I knew enough to be able to answer those questions. "How far is too far?" "Why does the church make such a big deal about sex before marriage?" "If my girlfriend and I 'did it,' does that mean we're going to hell?" and, finally, "my friend's a Mormon. Is he going to hell?"

Everything came back to that.

So a few months ago I decided to spend a couple weeks preaching in a Q&A format. We're in between series, so I thought it would be nice to let the congregation set the direction by asking me some questions. I'm not the first pastor to do this, so I can't take credit for any originality here. I just thought it would be a nice change from the normal "Dan decides what to preach on and then he preaches on it" routine. Besides, these things are pretty easy, so I would have extra time to prepare the upcoming series, as well as taking care of some other stuff around here.


Not this church.

Nothing easy here.

"Perhaps you could speak to refute Marcionism."
"How can I be completely contented when my loved ones are spending eternity in hell?"
"Who are the 'spirits kept in prison' in 1 Peter 3:19?"
"Is God a Republican?"
"Why do some people live perfectly happy lives, while others go through virtual hell every day?"
"Jesus only suffered for a few hours - how does that compare to those who spend years in excruciating pain and suffering?"

In fact, not one question about sex or other religions. Answering these questions has taken twice as long as my normal sermon preparation.

I guess I should be happy - I serve a thinking church who wrestle with deep issues. But how am I supposed to come across as the "expert" when I can't answer 1/2 of their questions?

I need to go back and preach on stuff I know. It's a lot less complicated.

(note - that last little bit is completely tongue in cheek, in case you didn't get that)


Lori said...

Oh Dan, I will pray for you brother. Those are loaded questions. I can't be there this Sunday so make sure it gets recorded.

Beth B said...

Dan! What a wonderful congregation you must have, to ask such amazing questions.

I wish I could be there to hear you. Please be sure to blog your responses, okay?

Kim said...

Well, at least the "Is God a republican?" question was easy!