This Sunday we’ll be having three sermons!
Well, okay, not quite. Let me explain.
This Sunday will be an exploration in team preaching. I (Pastor Tim Braun) will be preaching but sharing the sermon time with two members of our congregation who will also be sharing reflections from Scripture. Why would we do this? If you’re curious, read on!
Over the past few years, I’ve done a fair bit of study and reflection on what it might mean to worship in a truly baptistic way. As a Baptist church, in what ways is our worship similar or different to other Christian worship practices and why?
A lot more could be said than what I’ll mention here, but when the very first Baptists met for worship (early 1600s-1700s), they almost always had multiple sermons delivered by multiple people. Why would they do this?
Aside from a deep commitment to Scripture, this was also because of their belief in the “priesthood of all believers.” This is the idea that every Christian is a priest (1 Pt. 2:9; Rev. 1:6, 5:10) under the sole High Priesthood of Christ (Heb. 3:1, 8:1-6). One of the implications of this was their conviction that, if the Holy Spirit indwells and empowers every Christian, then every Christian has the God-given ability to speak into the lives of the congregation.
While it is true that God may call specific individuals as pastors or preachers, this doesn’t mean that preaching should be exclusively limited to the clergy. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit, everyone has something to offer!
And so, by including multiple speakers on Sunday morning, we are tapping into the theology and practice of our Baptist roots.
Distinctively Christian? I should certainly hope so! Here’s what I mean:
Throughout the history of Christian worship, it should come as no surprise that one common pattern we see is the use of multiple Scripture readings. Gradually this developed into the practice of having four Scripture readings: an Old Testament reading, a Psalm (usually chanted or sung), a Gospel reading, and a reading from one of the New Testament Letters (an Epistle). This practice ensures that “the whole counsel of God” is proclaimed, rather than exclusively relying on the preferred passages of the preacher.
So What About This Sunday?
As I reflected on these two ideas (multiple sermons and multiple Scripture readings) it suddenly struck me that we could bring these two practices together. There’s no reason why we can’t align ourselves with both: 1) the broader Christian tradition of multiple, diverse Scripture readings and 2) our historic Baptist practice of multiple, diverse voices reflecting on those Scriptures.
So, for this Sunday, we will have an Old Testament reading followed by a brief reflection based on that reading. We’ll sing a Psalm together (a practice that we are now quite familiar with), followed by a reading from an Epistle with another brief reflection. Then, because our current sermon series is in the Gospel of John, we will have our Gospel reading and a short sermon.
This is something new for us, something that we’re just exploring. Over the next few months, we may try this a handful of times and see how God uses the breadth of the Scriptures and diversity of his priesthood to challenge and inspire us to become more like Christ.
Here’s what this Sunday might look like:
– Call to Worship
– 2 Songs
Service of the Word:
– Old Testament Reading
– Old Testament Reflection
– Singing of a Psalm
– Epistle Reading
– Epistle Reflection
– Gospel Reading
– Sermon (based on the Gospel reading)
Response (Service of the Table):
– Pastoral Prayer
– Sending Prayer / Benediction