Friday, April 11, 2008

Not Preaching a "Committee Sermon"

This Sunday is going to be an odd one for me. I'm thrilled to have two opportunities to preach. In the morning, I will be speaking at Rothwell Baptist Church in Pooler, GA. This is the church that has graciously allowed us to live in its mission house since returning from South Asia over a year ago. On Sunday night, I get to preach at Chevis Oaks Baptist Church near Savannah. I have preached there nine times in the past two months, so I will feel right at home.

One factor will make the day odd. A pastoral search committee from a church somewhere in Georgia (to remain nameless for now) is going to be at Rothwell on Sunday morning to hear me preach. I'm not nervous about this in any way, but I am concerned that the whole affair might turn into some sort of show. The sweet folks at Rothwell know that the committee is coming and have wished me well. I just hope the focus of the church during the sermon is actually God instead of my current (lack of) job status.

Earlier this week I was having coffee with Devin Bell, the pastor at Rothwell. He asked me if I was going to preach a "committee sermon." I looked at him with a blank stare because I had never heard that term before. Devin informed me that some pastors, if they know a search committee is present, will preach for the committee, including various things in the sermon to make themselves look good. I gave Devin a look of disgust. He was pleased; the thought of a "committee sermon" being preached is his pulpit made him very uncomfortable.

Instead of speaking for the committee, I'm focused on One. I've found that if my desire is to please God by being faithful to His inspired biblical text, then I'll be on the right track. If God approves of Sunday's sermon, then I really don't care what a search committee thinks. I'm not even planning to preach on a text that most search committees would probably like. The text for both sermons (AM and PM) is Philippians 2:1-4. The theme of that passage is God's command for His church to be united and the method for this to occur.

We'll see what happens. My family is resting in God's sovereign hand over this entire situation. He will direct us where we should go and how we should serve. His methods and timing are perfect.

I'll preach Sunday for God. I'm certainly not preaching a "committee sermon."

14 comments:

Nick Kennicott said...

No Romans 9???!!!

Glad to hear it, brother -- we'll be praying and hope the Lord reveals His sovereign will to your family.

Eric said...

Nick,

Romans 9 would be great, and what an awesome pleasure it would be to preach! We also know how that chapter would be digested. In most SBC churches you would have to gain the love of the people before touching that one - at least if job security was a concern.

Thank you for praying. We really appreciate it.

Paul W. said...

Eric,
Beth and I will commit this to prayer.

Eric said...

Paul,

Thank you very much. May His will be done!

Aussie John said...

Eric,

I pray our Lord God is glorified, the congregation edified, and you are identified!

Eric said...

John,

Thank you very much. Your prayer almost sounds like a sermon outline.

Michael said...

Eric,

I will be praying for you in the morning.

Eric said...

Michael,

Thank you so much. It means a lot to have others praying to our sovereign God.

Anonymous said...

Please forgive my lack of understanding, but what is a 'pastoral search committee' and, more importantly, where is it found, suggested or even vaguely hinted at in the Bible ?

sola scriptura ... I don't think so!!!

Eric said...

Anon,

I can't argue with you there. In fact, I agree with you.

I wish churches raised up pastors from within; however, this is also the world in which we live. Although I'm not thrilled with it, I also don't see the concept of search committees as being sinful. Therefore, I'll go along with this practice even though I think there are better options.

Thanks for the reminder.

Joe Blackmon said...

Eric

I have heard of the same thing from pastors and it is quite stomach turning. When I was pastoring a small church in northeast Alabama, I had a couple of pulpit committee's come by. I couldn't even tell you what it was I preached because I preached sequential exposition so I preached whatever was next. I guess that wasn't enough of a "Wow" factor for them.

Eric said...

Joe,

It really is a strange process. I feel bad for the folks in the pews who don't know what is going on, but have to listen to the sermons when the committees show up. I'm not sure how to get around this process.

Brian said...

So how did it go?

Eric said...

Brian,

Thanks for asking. See above for answer.