Is Lutheran Preaching Dead?

St. Stephen's ELCA, Lexington, SC - Where April grew up and we were married.

St. Stephen's ELCA, Lexington, SC - Where April grew up and we were married.

We found out the answer is a resounding no when yesterday we attended St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Lexington (part of the ELCA).  Pastor Pat Riddle challenged us to hear that one of our primary tasks as Christians is to make disciples.  I have often commented that ‘discipleship’ is something I have felt is lost even in my own preaching, and in church discussions seems to get lost among the desire to get people in through the door and on the seats.  I told Pat that he was welcome to come and preach this sermon at any of my three churches.  I think what also stuck out to me was the way he preached.  In many ways, it was very American.  Most British preaching I have seen, in particular in the more liturgical traditions, has been more reserved than Pat’s.  Even in the pulpit (which was a fairly large area), he walked around, made great hand motions, and used his voice to inflect on the points he wanted to make.  I had hoped he put his sermons on the web, but I don’t see them.  I would like to hear it again.

Interior of St. Stephen's

Interior of St. Stephen's

Of course it was also an intersting experience sitting with my family.  We went to church with April’s family, but it is a rare occurence that I get to sit with April and Savannah. Savannah is still trying to recover from jetlag and is trying to adjust to the overwhelming schedule we have made.  We worried that she might try to walk up to the altar area, as she has free reign at Wilpshire and will often make her way up there.  I think she was simply too tired.  The Lutheran liturgy is beautiful, and it is hard to put a finger on how it is different than other traditionally liturgical churches, but it seems to work.  I had forgotten that Americans don’t sing 5 hymns (Methodists included), but many points in the liturgy were sung.  Not a doleful chant, but a more lively refrain.  I need to find my Lutheran Book of Worship while over here.

I also mention this church because this is the church where April grew up and where we were married 8 years ago.

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5 thoughts on “Is Lutheran Preaching Dead?

  1. Like you, I am concerned that discipleship doesn’t feature much in our UK Methodist worship services but that, surely, is what should be our main focus, shouldn’t it? A few of us are about to start the Disciple 4 Course, having done the first three, but we are looked on as ‘odd’ for doing so. The Disciple courses come to us from America, so please convey our thanks for this enrichment of our Christian journey.

  2. I love to visit the local Lutheran parish in my town–the preaching is outstanding and the difference in the approach to the Gospel, as contrasted with my own Presbyterian tradition, is always palpable for me–the Lutherans *stand* to hear the Gospel and all eyes are on the cross.

  3. Will you are on holiday enjoy the time off with your family. time to think when you get back to the day Job. every blessings to you all.

  4. Pingback: Is Lutheran Preaching Dead? Part 2 « Ramblings from Red Rose

  5. As a lutheran in Brazil I have seen that my lutheran church has positive and wonderful points in many aspects like living in community, friendship etc.; but, I have noted our preachers aren’t so emphatic in exortations and in evangelization. It seems they are affraid of offend people who profess other religions (and even people inside our own churches, for speaking about compromise and engagement with God can “offend” even them,,,). In other words, they speak about “flowers”, not about a God with whom we must render account…
    I think we must never offend anyone, but it is our obligaton to speak the truth about Jesus Christ and about a life related to him, which must produce fruit in this world, fruit of love, respect, justice in every areas of the reality: individual, social, political, economical etc.
    I think the lutheran preaching must show more steadfastly new possibilities of life and of transformation of the reality, from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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