What We're Preaching: The Problem with Christianity
In this series, "What We're Preaching", we want to get a glimpse into what some of our ANiC churches are preaching and learning about.
We got a chance to connect with Rev. Aaron Roberts, the evening service minister at his church, about their current sermon series and so we begin this series with St. John's Vancouver.
What are you preaching about right now at St. John's, Aaron?
We are currently doing a short series on apologetics called "The Problem with Christianity" where we look at 7 hot button barriers for people coming to faith. Or, to put it another way - how Christians can respond to difficult questions people have about Christian faith. Here is a blurb we wrote to describe it.
Christians are convinced that the good news about Jesus is a source of joy and wonder. Jesus was right to teach that the kingdom of heaven is like the man who found the pearl of great price. Yet, many of us have difficulty talking to our family, friends, and neighbours about the gospel. It feels like there is a large gap between them and faith. To them, Christianity seems outdated, bigoted, backward, old-fashioned. Christianity is a problem to be avoided.
This series is called, “The Problem with Christianity.” In it, we want to engage with the real questions that people have about faith in order to bridge the gap. We will focus on seven perceived problems in a way that addresses the heart concerns of our culture with the person of Jesus Christ.
What sparked the idea and vision for this series?
This series is a follow up to a 4 week evangelism training course we ran for our congregation earlier in the year. We saw that our congregation had an eagerness to share their faith, but felt ill equipped when it came to answering the tough questions.
How did you begin planning it? Where did you start?
We started by thinking through what were the 7 biggest questions Christians come up against when sharing their faith. I did some reading and googling and presented 10 questions which the ministry team narrowed down to 7.
What was one of your biggest challenges in formulating it?
The trickiest part was deciding on which scriptures to preach each week. It meant that we had to decide early on the sort of tact we would take in addressing the each particular question. For example, week 4 we address 'The integrity problem' - i.e. The church has some skeletons in the closet. So, do we preach Col 1:28–29 Christianity is about Christ, not the church. Or, Mark 7:14 – 23. The ‘sin problem’ isn’t just in the church! It’s everywhere.
The second challenge was how to approach the sermon. We wanted to preach a passage of scripture, but also wanted to preach topically and address the question. We coined the phrase 'topisitional' this hybrid approach, and let the preacher each week decide how they would do. Sometimes the preachers exegetes the passage for half the sermon and then spend the next half speaking in more general terms of the issue... and others seem to be about to weave the topical stuff into the sermon.
What impact have you seen/hope to see in your church?
Our hope is that this series will both engage those interested in Christianity and equip those seeking to reach out, as well as addressing our congregants own struggles with these questions.
If you could make sure your people all got one primary thing from this series what would it be?
That's a tough question. One thing, I would hope they got out of it (but I don't think its the primary thing), is that the Christian faith is intellectually reasonable and robust.
How can we pray for you?
Prayer for workers in the field!
You can find out more about this sermon series or listen to it on the St. John's Vancouver website.