These thoughts may sound a littled jumbled... Sorry
Preaching and teaching is important for our congregation today not only because we have a powerful message that needs to be herd, but because we have entrusted to us the word of life that matters urgently in a society bent on self destruction. We can see in our culture on a large scale, but also in our own city and neighborhoods, the downward spiral towards apathy and darkness.
With the disestablishment of Christianity and the collapse of the supremacy of the christian world view in our culture, the formation of a distinctive community of praise and obedience now becomes more urgent than it has ever been. If the body of Christ is not to evaporate into an ocean of consumerism and anti-neighborly individualism, then our summons to an alternative community is necessary. The idea of an alternative community requires an offer of a choice and the requirement of a decision that is Scripturaly rooted and that touches every facet of the life of the community and its members.
Transformation is what lies at the heart of my motivation for preaching and teaching.There are only rare texts in the bible that are holding actions, everything else in the bible urges us to move towards an alternative to the dominate culture. People do not transform their lives because someone explains an abstract theological point to them. But people can and do in fact engage in transformation through the hearing and living out of the message. We do not need to adjust our theology to match our practices, but we need to adjust our practices to match our theology.
The act of preaching and teaching is a powerful act of imagination, an offer of a new image through which perception, experience, and finally faith can be reorganized in alternative ways (not of this world but in it). Preaching and teaching to me is primarily a chance to summon and nurture an alternative community with an alternative identity, vision, vocation, preoccupied with praise and obedience toward the God we know fully in Jesus of Nazareth.
The next year will be filled with all the challenges of the last year, but will also present us with a new challenge. The challenge of discovering this alternate community among ourselves... This will require being open to transformation in every aspect of our lives as individuals and as a community. It will require listening more than we speak, to God, to our community, and to each other. We must learn to reject as false the wicked spirit that whispers selfishness into our soul, and leads to apathy and death. This is not "My church" but is Jesus body. This must become more than an abstract theological point for us!
If we are to be active partners with Christ in the rescue mission he has given us (go and make disciples) we must surrender our vision for our church and accept His vision for His bride. We live in a culture that is crying out for help, it is unthinkable that we would retreat into our building as if it is a fortress, and bemoan our cultures decent into darkness. If we are to be a shinning city on a hill attracting weary travelers who are stumbling through the darkness, then we must together hold our light high.