Thursday, June 08, 2006

discouraging note of the week

Surely you don't think all the feedback is positive, do you?

Last Sunday between services, somebody handed me a worship tab that they had found lying around. She said, "I think this is note for you." Here's what the tab said. . .

Length of sermon isn't as important as getting the message across to the people. On average people can only hold their attention for 30 minutes.

Your delivery is excellent. Very animated. Its a good thing!

Nice. Of course it was unsigned. Why do I read unsigned notes?


Anonymous said...

Perhaps if the writer would train their mind just a little to remain focused...If the Da Vinci Code can run 2 hours and 29 minutes, the sermon can go a little long. I truly enjoy your energtic and thought provoking sermons.

Jeannett Gibson said...

Anonymity gives people a sense of confidence and bravado they wouldn't normally have. Actually, it's the reason police officers are required to wear name badges now. I guess for many years, there were issues (abuse, I would assume) and since you couldn't identify them, it was creating a lot of problems. I make it a conscious point to address people I come into contact with at work by first name at least once during our conversations. It's interesting to watch their face soften and throw them off guard. It actually makes my job more pleasant by just dropping a quick "Well Tim, it's like this..." It's harder to be mean to someone when they know your first name. But, while it's frustrating, anonymity and negative feedback is good for figuring out where you can work on things and what might not be working as well as you thought. Many times, if one person says it, there are others who think it too.

Loved the sermon on Sunday though! :0)

Andy Gibson said...

Oh man....

Tim Weaver said...

You can't totally disregard anonymous comments. It is obviously a real person's opinion. Just because they don't have the guts to 'say it to your face' doesn't mean that it isn't a valid opinion from a valid person. Shy people should not be discarded and not taken seriously. Christ would not ignore the people who don't have the courage to stand up for themselves, so we better not.

The woman who touched the hem of His garment for healing didn't have the guts to ask. She wouldn't even come to him when it was just He and the disciples. She wanted the anonymity that being lost in a crowd offers. Jesus had to confront her to get the story out (not that He didn't know, but He wanted God to get the glory).

My thought on their comment is: Take mental note. If you start hearing more about it, then maybe there is an issue. If you don't, then you are doin' fine. You can't please all the people all of the time.

Keep up the good work.

Pastor Tim Theule said...

Do we preach because its the most effective means of communication in today's culture?

Do we preach certain length sermons becuase that's what postmoderns can tolerate?

Should the pew drive the worship of God, our ministry and the length of a message?

Is the church a democracy where the majority rules?

In principle I agree that even anon feedback should be heard, and I am especially committed to hearing feedback from trusted friends who know what they are talking about. . . .

but these are more fundamental questions that I grapple with.

Not easy to get a note like that in between services and have to plow on.

Its a reminder that I'm on the chopping block every single week. Comes with the call.

Its why when we gather, we must work to hear God's Word together, not evaluate the man, the humor, length, structure, etc.

Historically, the question that folks asked one another after church was, "How did you come under the Word?" not
"How was the sermon?"

The focus is pretty different, don't you think?

I like the first question much better.

Lord, first and foremost, help me preach for you, an "Audience of One" . . .for your glory and for your smile.


Trav said...

I think your sermons should go longer... maybe people could just use a coffee break in the middle!

seriously, people these days have the hardest time listening to something that isn't just a bunch of sound bites... we need to try to have a little more discipline and listening through a 45min-1hour sermon is not that hard.

Andy Gibson said...

I don't necessarily think that anon opinion should be discarded. Hey, I'm the first one the pounce on them, usually.

Anon comments are disrespectful. How do you expect to illicit an intelligent conversation when you don't make your self available for response in that conversation.

Unfortunately, while there are some anons that do have valid points, the internet has allowed anons to drop nothing but trash, and it happens with more and more frequency all the time (I'm not just limiting that comment to life together, either).

Point is, and I think PT touched on it, putting your name to it makes it easier to resond to, and in most cases easier to digest.

And I've never gone to a church with only a 30 min. sermon. You can't learn anything in 30 min....hardly 45. You pay attention for as long as you put your mind to.

Jeannett Gibson said...

Church isn't entertainment, nor should it be viewed as such. It is not the sermons purpose to play into our consumer mentality complete with commercial breaks.

Anonymous said...

"Anon comments are disrespectful" (Andy).


Villifying all "Anon" comments for being disrespectful sight-unseen, is arrogant and brutish. Could it be your problem is really that "Anon" comments deny you the opportunity to be vengeful? Thus it would appear your only recource is to resort to ad-hominem attacks against anyone who might find any number of causes to refrain from publishing their identity in what they may find cause for viewing as a hostile environment (your own words a case in point).

"How do you expect to illicit an intelligent conversation when you don't make your self available for response in that conversation." (Andy)

Seeing as you seem to be soliciting for help imagining some ways to accomplish an intelligent conversation with an anonymous poster, here are some suggestions:
1. Include a quote from the anonymous post you are replying to.
2. Continue the discussion with that person on the same discussion board in which they posted--such as this very forum for instance.
3. Extend to them the respect you would wish to receive--don't prejudge every thing they compose as being disrespectful just because you have an unresolved personal problem with others who have posted anonymously before.
4. Don't judge someone by their moniker or lack of one any more than you would judge someone by the color (or lack) of their skin.

For reflection, if you were to be approached by a complete stranger on the street who were to tell you that your shoe was untied, would you judge them for being disrespectful simply because they didn't announce their identity first?

Would you disparage all Christian missionaries who seek to concile their identities while working within some other perceived hostile environment?

Could it be that for some who have been in the Christian community for awhile, they have experienced enough back-biting and vindictive behavior exhibited that they have lost their trust of publishing their names because they have become weary of having their names run through the rumor-mill and become the subject of spiteful and or mean spirit gossup.

In short, if you wish "Anon's" to trust you enough to use their name, you might begin by demonstrating behavior that instill some confidence that it is a worthwhile endeavor.

Will (just so you have a name to refer too).

Andy Gibson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pastor Tim Theule said...

Easy fellas. The fruit of the Spirit includes kingness, gentleness and self-control.

Romans 15:7...Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.

My goal is to see as many read and particpate here at Life Together as desire to do so. Sometimes I fear that some of our more timid brothers and sisters might shy away from jumping into dialogues that "sound" like this one.

So let's keep the environment warm, welcoming, and inviting, just like we try to do on Sundays. That doesn't mean we don't engage in vigorous debate and dialogue, but let's do with Gospel grace.

And let's remember that some outside the faith are logging on and watching our "life together." What do they see? --PT

Anonymous said...

"Would you disparage all Christian missionaries who seek to concile their identities while working within some other perceived hostile environment?" (Will)

"Some other? Are you saying that life together is hostile? I think it would be hostile if people have the inability to share their thoughts and feelings regarding issues facing the Christian religion today, but that is just my opinion." (Andy)

Yes. In so much that people are broad-brushed as disrespectful for no other reason than utilizing the security of posting anonymously. Yes I find that an act of hostility, and symptomatic of the potential for various other types of hostility to follow in the form of casting further negative stereotypes, pre-judgements, and other types of berating remarks toward those who simply differ in their approach to carrying their identity online.

Tim: Thanks for stepping in to remind us that you are aware and care over this current situation in dialog.

Blessings and peace.


Andy Gibson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

My prayer is that Pastor Tim becomes inundated with anonymous notes of blessings and encouragement borne from the anonymous prayer closet of support!



bryan said...

This merely displays the lack of passion that we in the 21st century american church have for the word of God. In Eastern block countries as well as throughtout the Latin world, church services can go for several hours with preaching well over an hour alone.

Yet, we in america are a "headline" type of people. Just give me the cream off the top of the milk.

When was the the last time a person became a "sage" thru a synopsis of the sacred word of the Living God!! Yet this seems to be the problem, we by in large are not willing to plumb the debths of our glorious God. We are far to content to dwell in the outter courts where we can keep control of things in our lives.

Our hunger for the word of God or lack thereof is nothing more than a indicator of our need and desire for Him.

set the standard high. you will one day give an answer to God ....not the face behind that anonymous note.
Tim, be faithful....PREACH THE WORD OF THE LORD!

Suzette Lyons said...

Awhile ago when you posted the "Mystery Worshiper" post I was quite surpirsed by what I found on the web site. It seemed that the sermons ranged from 15 min to 25 min. I was wondering if that was representative of other churches. (I don't know if I would learn much in 15 minutes). Looking at the past sermons at Grace the average seems to be around 40 min.

So I have been getting a 40 min. sermon plus another 15 to 50 minutes on my own time preparing(depends on how disciplined I am)then another 45 minutes of growth group discussion. Usually this is enough to just begin thinking about the topic and what it could mean for my life. It is a really good thing that the book of Matthew (and the Bible as a whole) are some what repetative.

Not growing up as a Christian and having all the great Sunday School classes that my kids get I have to do a lot of reading on my own to try and figure it all out. I have wondered if people who have been Christians for 30 - 50 years ever get bored or is each repetition of the parable of the wicked tenant's a deepening of their understanding?

I don't know what is a good sermon length. If it was based soley on my deep need of more teaching we would be there all day(I don't think you really want to do that).

I like Cecile Patty's theory with the Kindergarten Sunday Schoool class. If it works with 5 year olds it should be even better with older people.

Take the time you have (an hour and fifteen minutes minus singing, prayer, anouncements, and the Lord's Supper - which are all important) then with what ever time is left -

"Stuff them full of God's Word. And don't waste a minute."