(Slightly adjusted post from July 2012)
We hope you don’t mind us writing to you on a Monday, though we realise that you may be among those preachers who takes Monday as a day off. We thought that it might be helpful to let you know on Monday what we are hoping for when we listen to you on Sunday. Not that we want you to take this as some kind of condemnation or an attempt to add to your burdens!
We hope that your message will be clear. It usually is, but – forgive the candour – there are times when we wonder if you are clear in your own mind about what it is that you are trying to tell us. Remember that if there is a mist in the pulpit, it usually results in a fog in the pew! Oh – and don’t try to tell us too many things at once: we will forget most of them.
We also hope that what you say will be biblical. It’s interesting to hear what you think about the issues of the day, but you have taught us well enough to know that what you say has greatest value when it is rooted in what God has already spoken.
And we need you to be relevant. We know that the Bible is always relevant and it doesn’t need you to try make it relevant (so go easy on the gimmicks); but we need you to help us see its relevance in our particular circumstances.
And speaking of our circumstances, remember that quite a lot of us carry burdens with us on Sunday morning. Unfortunately we have to confess that no amount of singing “forget about yourself” manages to rid us completely of some of our concerns. At the end of the day, everyone needs some encouragement. We don’t need you to be superficial and tell us that everything is OK when it is not. But we need some deep encouragement to trust in the God who calms the storms, encouragement to persevere in doing good, encouragement to turn away from what harms us.
But we know too that there are some of us who need a bit of a jolt. We get complacent. The Monday to Saturday routine blows us off course. We need you to help us recalibrate our priorities and send us out reoriented, and better equipped for the new week.
If this list is not long enough, we’ll add one other request. To use the words of the Greeks who appeared in Jerusalem in John 12:
Sir, we wish to see Jesus.
Your Sunday congregation.
PS – we didn’t mention how long you should preach. Here’s the deal. If you have 15 minutes worth of things to say, don’t try to stretch it out to 30; but if you have 40 minutes worth, don’t try to condense it to 15!