At Open Door, we just finished up a series called “You Asked For It”. People submitted questions early in the year for us to answer in sermons throughout the summer. First of all, it was one of the most well received series we have done. Some of the topics brought new people in and our regular attenders wanted to be there as well to hear the answers. We tackled some highly charged issues that have made the news recently and answered some questions that were a little less divided. We have lots of questions left over and no doubt we will do the same type of series again.
For me personally, many of the subjects were challenging. From a preparation standpoint, it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever undertaken. As I look back on the series, there are some things that I will take away. Some I already knew and some I did not.
Don’t Assume Everyone Knows The Answer
This was something I noticed before I even began to prepare the first sermon. As I read questions as they were submitted, I realized that because I have been in church all of my life, there are some things or “answers” I take for granted. It is easy to forget that not everyone sitting in front of you on Sunday has been in church all of their life. Reading the bible may be completely new to them. As a leader and a pastor, I have an obligation to make sure that questions are answered and not assume that everyone knows what I know.
Challenge Your Assumptions
All of us are predisposed to certain beliefs based on our background, family history, education and even location. Several questions were asked about issues that I had to lay aside my own personal biases and preferences, and be fair about what the word of God had to say. For example, one of the questions was “Should Christians be involved in politics and is it a sin not to vote?”. You will have to listen to the podcast for the answer, but politics is something that almost every person has some opinion, if not a very strong opinion, about. And that would include me as well. But in order to be fair to the question and the scriptures, I had to lay aside my assumptions and opinions and offer clearly how the scriptures addressed the issue.
The Bible Is Relevant
There was not a single question that was asked that I was not able to find solid information and direction about. It is a book that is alive with truth to guide us and direct us in all areas of our lives. From issues that people have been dealing with for centuries to very current issues that seem to be new to us, God’s word is alive and fresh to steer our path. It is not an ancient, irrelevant text. It is new everyday for every situation.
Study Time Is Critical
As pastors, we often resort to preaching our “felt needs” or issues and passages we are comfortable or familiar with. Answering these questions forced me to look beyond a single passage for an answer, but to take in the entire counsel of God’s word. In the context of God’s entire revelation to us, what is the answer? This required a tremendous amount of study time. Instead of what does a single passage say about a single issue, I had to begin with what does the entirety of God’s word say about that issue. It gave me a fresh view of my study habits and challenged me, not just for this series, but as I move forward, not to box myself in or cut corners on preparation, but spend whatever time is necessary to present the gospel clearly for all to understand and be able to grow.
Every series is different and offers its own set of challenges. This series just had some specific impacts on me that I know I will carry forward. I am excited about how this will impact me going forward and how I have grown through this process.