The other day, I watched “The Chronicles of Riddick.” Have you ever seen this movie? Vin Diesel is in it. If you haven’t, it’s pretty easy to describe. Just imagine that the biggest jock from your high school was given $50 million to produce a movie in which he was the star. He would wear googles, super tight tank tops and body oil to illuminate his every muscle. And then they’d give him horribly cheesy, “look how cool I am” lines like, “It’s an animal thing, you wouldn’t understand.”
Honestly, I think that Vin probably wanted all the bad guys to be wearing mirror suits so that he could see his own reflection while he fought them. It’s such a crazy ego parade I can barely believe it. And that’s how I sometimes feel when ministers launch 87-week sermon series on a single book in the Bible.
I get that you really like Romans. I think that’s cool. I think it’s interesting and insightful when someone dedicates their life to the study of a single book. I think we as readers and members of churches can really benefit from that. But when a minister starts a series by focusing on the first two words in say Acts, I know I’m in trouble. Really, a whole sermon on the phrase, Dear Brothers?
One of my favorite things about great comedians is that they often retire their material. They do this because they know that if they keep using the same jokes over and over again they’ll never write new material. They’ll grow soft and lose that creative edge that comes with striking out into new territory. Seinfeld for instance did a documentary in which he laid all his old jokes in a coffin and had a funeral for them. I think more ministers should do that. I think that once a year, a minister should tell his staff, “Hey, just wanted you to know that despite my deep affection for that “frog in the slowly boiling hot water” analogy and chapter 2 of Exodus, I am going to retire them. I’m starting fresh. Thanks for your support.”
Maybe every year is too much. Maybe every few years is better, because sometimes I think you find something new the second time you preach a message. It’s not a hard and fast rule, just a suggestion.
I think there are some good comments coming in for this one. By no means was I trying to say that the sermon had to be hip like a comedian. The one thing I think I left out was that although Jesus preached a consistent message of love, hope and truth, he never did the 87 week approach. He constantly was telling very short, very powerful, stand alone parables and ideas. There was never a part 12 of his messages, which meant that anyone on any given day could jump into what he was preaching and engage with it. His teachings had a beginning, a middle and an end. You can certainly argue the other side, but if you go the 87 route, visitors run the risk of coming in at week 42 and feeling lost.