Last night at our Advent Midweek service, I tried to interact with the congregation during the sermon. I asked questions to get responses, to get at what they were thinking or their impressions of a person or situation. I’ve done this a little bit in the past, but tried to do even more. It’s an interesting process. In our church, they aren’t used to talking to me during a sermon, although we’ve had plenty of personal conversations in the past.
I believe they liked it. I believe it kept their attention on a warm, rainy evening. (Yes, in Florida, Advent is usually warm.) And it gives me a chance to respond to their thoughts, rather than simply guessing what they might be thinking.
The idea of some dialogue in a sermon requires a lot of flexibility, and the ability to keep moving towards the goal and conclusion. It requires a lot of faith, that people will respond and that you’ll be able to think on your feet, responding to what they say. You may need to abandon something you were going to say along the way, to make room for other thoughts. It works best, of course, in a smaller group. In front of 500 people, it just won’t happen. But with 50 or so, it has possibilities.