A different approach to sermon application

This Sunday, I didn’t preach a full sermon.  Instead, after setting the scene and providing exegesis of the passage, I opened up the floor and asked people in the congregation to share testimony about how God had applied this truth in their lives.

We were looking at Proverbs 11 and focused in on v 10 which tells us that “when the righteous prosper, the city rejoices.” We saw how the Proverb is generally true, we want to see good succeed but is specifically true when we see that Jesus us the righteous one who has succeeded by conquering sin and death. We are the people of the City (The New Jerusalem) who rejoice because of Jesus, the righteous one.  We then went on from there to look at how we grow in righteousness (sanctification) and so can be a blessing to our city both by living right and even more importantly by pointing people to Jesus, the righteous one.

That’s when I opened things up. At our 11:15 service, I had asked 2 people to reflect no the verse through the week and given them an advance copy of my notes.  This gave them time to prepare some thoughts. I hadn’t managed to ask anyone to do this at The 930 Service but instead took a risk and invited testimony. There was silence at first but then one person led off and after that the floodgates opened. It was very encouraging

Across the two services we heard about what it means to work in a large organisation and to speak up for justice, how doctors can show great care for patients, how moms can encourage their families to live for Christ and make contacts in the community at the school gate, delivering Avon, joining in with voluntary groups etc. We heard about neighbours showing love and concern across the garden fence and the witness of how an elderly person instead of being isolated has both loved and been loved. We heard about a wedding not designed around how much money was spent and showing off (no Bridezilla in sight) but in enabling all the guests to enjoy the day. Within that context of loving a community, we heard about a young person sharing their testimony and the guests at the wedding being able to hear the Gospel and receive a New Testament as a wedding favour.

As preachers, we should never abdicate our responsibility to apply God’s Word practically. However, what I saw on Sunday was that a congregation’s body ministry can lead to a greater depth and richness of application as we learn from each other.