george hancockstefanIt was Saturday morning, a time to rest, relax, read the cartoons, and catch up to the rest of the reading.  I opened Saturday’s cartoon section and in the Family Circus cartoon one of the children says to the Pastor as they come out of the church, “The sermon was good, but I think you could’ve used a couple jokes to jazz it up a bit.”  I continued my reading and since the Sunday cartoons come on Saturday, I also read the Sunday cartoons. In the Curtis cartoon, Curtis Wilkins is trying to help Rev. Caldwell.  His opening line is, “I understood you’re looking for new concepts to attract young people to the congregation, Rev. Caldwell.” Curtis is primarily seeking to introduce Rev. Caldwell to YouTube.  Some of his YouTube ideas make Rev. Caldwell upset and in the last square you see that Curtis was thrown out of the office and the line reads, “I was only tryin’ to help.” Next, I read the Time Editor’s Desk written by Nancy Gibbs.  She is the new editor at Time and fittingly her article is entitled, “New Beginning”.  In the article, she has a section in which what preachers do is mentioned.  “TIME has always told stories through people.  And we are living through the most immense transfer of power from institutions to individuals in history.  You want to fight crime, make music, preach a sermon, publish a memoir, learn particle physics or solicit start funding for a line of wallets made from recycled bicycle inner tubes? The access and influence you need are at your fingertips.”

Since I was scheduled to preach the next day, I was thinking of the comments that my parishioners will make about my sermon in view of what I have read. Do I have enough jokes, does my sermon have any affinity to the advanced technological age in which we live, and do I prepare it and deliver it thinking that I have access and influence at my fingertips? It was interesting for me to see that in my reading on Saturday morning, none of the comments were negative about the whole art of preaching.  Sometimes there are days and sometimes whole months, in which I do not see a positive or even a neutral comment about sermons and preachers.

Preachers and what preachers do have become under intense scrutiny. From 6 minute homily to the 60-plus minute expository or doctrinal sermon, from the feel-good sermon to the cerebral sermon, from the independent sermon to the liturgically connected sermon, from the oratorically-crafted sermon to the power-point delivered sermon – all have been praised, dissected, disparaged, and distrusted.  Yet, God in His wisdom and providence is still using it and He still calls men and women to become preachers.

Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of God and until that Kingdom comes in full fruition, men and women of God will rise up and proclaim the good news that God is in love with this world.

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...