Friday, September 21, 2012

Preaching in the Inventive Age – A Review

by Rev. Laura Barclay

Preaching in the Inventive Age by Doug Pagitt is a book that encourages ministers to think outside the box on sermon preparation and delivery in the 21st century church. The inventive age (explained more in the precursor to this book Church and the Inventive Age, which I review here), is what he refers to as this age, where many people are accustomed to contributing and creating their own content in online communities. Because people are comfortable with participatory involvement elsewhere, the church should be adapting its leadership structure to be less authoritarian in style and function.

Pagitt posits that traditional sermonizing is really “speaching,” where a pastor is talking at someone from their own experience, or worse, from the experience of outdated commentaries. Rather than hold all the power and knowledge for ourselves, what if ministers allowed the congregation to shape the sermon? He gives several options for how to accomplish this, including having an open meeting earlier in the week where the pastor facilitates a discussion about the text he or she is going to going to preach the following Sunday. A pastor could also have a question and response time after their sermons or gather after the textual reading and knit together all the comments into a conclusion. Pagitt says that the more invested people are in the experience, the more they will see God’s story as their own, rather than struggle to find personal applicability in Sunday worship.

Pagitt also encourages us to reorient our worship space, where all seats are facing the pulpit and the pastor is the only one with the microphone. He challenges the reader by affirming the priesthood of all believers but stating that our church structures and functions only serve to reiterate hierarchy. What if we had a roundtable format instead?

This book is very easy to read and approach. There is a lot of white space and pull quotes because Pagitt wants you to be able to write your own reflection and add to his thoughts. He is insistent that he isn’t right about everything and he wants your input to evolve his own ideas. This book was a bit repetitive, but I suspect that is because he encourages the reader to flip around, not necessarily in chronological order. Pagitt does this because he wanted the structure of his book to support his thesis.  

I think Pagitt’s ideas are well worth reading because he vigilant and proactive about new and more holistic ways of doing church that involve listening and valuing the voices of everyone in our congregations. I believe the key to moving our congregations forward in the 21st century involves listening to one another’s stories and experiences and learning to value one another in community. Isn’t this what Jesus was about? 

Want to learn more? You can read more and order Preaching in the Inventive Age here: You can find out more about Doug Pagitt, speaker, pastor, and radio host here:

1 comment:

  1. This is highly informatics, crisp and clear. I think that everything has been described in systematic manner so that reader could get maximum information and learn many things.
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