My Takeaways from the 2013 Festival of Homiletics

The Festival of Homiletics is a preaching conference for pastors across denoimations.  This was the 21st Festival of Homiletics and it was located in Nashville, TN.  I was lucky enough to be one of almost 2000 participants at the festival.  To tell you that there is great value both spiritually, personally and intellectually is an understatement.  I was moved in so many ways and I believe I am going to be a better preacher and pastor because of it.

There are a number of things that I was able to take away from the event.  Here are just a few.

1.  Be true to who you are —  Presiding Bishop of the ELCA Mark Hanson gave a wonderful sermon based in the book of Acts. The image he used over and over again was one of people leaving church on a Sunday saying “Pastor you are out of your mind!”  Basically one of the things I think Bishop Hanson was saying is that we don’t need fancy marketing plans or multi-media worship (but I think we need some of that) we don’t need the latest and greatest of everything.  What we need is to be comfortable with our own identity, we need to be true to who we are and we need to preach and proclaim that truth.  God is not in the sin accounting business, God is in the soul saving business.

2.  Preach with passion — Doing things related to our faith with passion is something that I have been thinking a lot about since the festival.  Listening to Lillian Daniels, David Lose, Len Sweet, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Karoline Lewis and Brian McLaren really inspired me.

3.  Continue to learn — It was an amazing experience to be in a learning environment.  I quite honestly did not think that I would ever want to go back to school.  However, to be immersed in intellectual thought and to have conversation after conversation about the theology behind preaching was fantastic.

4.  Narrative plus metaphor = Narraphore  – This is one of the greatest take aways for me.  I have been experimenting with Meme’s and video and audio lately.  As Len Sweet said “Words are not the language of this culture anymore.”  We are living in a culture where we are less dependent on words and more dependent on pictures, narratives and metaphors. Here is an example Sweet used:  You may recognize this video

The interesting thing is no words are spoken throughout the entire commercial. But the point is clear. If you want to have moments that make your heart melt you need to buy this $25K car. I do not know how many cars they sold because of this commercial, but what I do know is that a year and a half after this commercial first aired I still remember it, I still talk about it and I know how it makes me feel.

Words are not the language of this culture. Narrative & metaphor (or as Len Sweet calls it Narraphors) are the language we use. We as a church need to learn how to share stories of our current reality as well as our past through Narraphores.

5.  Being a preacher is hard —  We are continued facing one awful thing after another in the world. As preachers we are called to live in the midst of this.  Sometimes churches smooth over all of this stuff but I agree with Nadia Boltz-Weber who said “We are called to preach the truth into the crap of the world.”