The sermon is where we tighten the focus on our congregation, on our situation. It's where everything gets down to us.
The pastors of the church I grew up in didn't know much about worship. They invariably followed the pattern they had inherited from the past: two or three hymns, an offering with a prayer, special music, a sermon, an invitational hymn, and a benediction. Fortunately, the music was usually spirited, the prayers and the sermon were earnest, and we had a sense of being in the presence of God. That, after all, is what worship is all about. You can have the most cleverly designed worship program in the world and still fail if there isn't a sense of that all-important presence.
But I have learned, over the years, that a well-planned worship service can usually help people to know they are in the presence of a transcendent being. The Holy Spirit works in wondrous ways, I know. Yet I believe that the Spirit can work better on me as a pastor and preacher when I am ...1