A teenager asked me, “Would you ever use Chat GPT to write a sermon?” The controversy around AI generated papers and essays is vigorous. But I hadn’t given much thought to using artificial intelligence to write a sermon.
I must admit I’ve never used Chat GPT. But here’s why I won’t use it for sermons.
Texting forces you to be clear and concise. It’s harder to say something important in 50 words than it is in 500 or 5,000. Every word counts.
So my daughter is at a public university and having conversations about faith. She texted, “Dad. My roommate is asking about Lutherans. Not sure what to say.”
Remembering something from a mentor of mine, I texted back:
Trevor Noah, comedian and host of The Daily Show, was featured on 60 Minutes last week. I’ve been thinking about one sentence he said. “Everyone is trying to belong.”
The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill is captivating the Christian podcast world. It chronicles the ministry of Pastor Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Mars Hill’s explosive growth sparked one of the largest church planting movements in American history. Driscoll was a voice for a new generation of church leaders at the turn of the millennium.
The podcast uncovers all the issues under the energy of the movement. Money, celebrity, scandal, and power. Driscoll’s stated goal was a church of 50,000 people and a media platform reaching millions. He was (and is) a brash, controversial personality. In 2014 he left the church under a myriad of accusations from abusive behavior to plagiarism. Mars Hill dissolved shortly after.
The church is not immunized against the lust for celebrity. We prize the platform. “Build a brand. Get noticed. Reach the masses.” We all want to be admired, to be liked, to be someone.
My counselor is “retired.” He is the former director of his counseling agency, but maintains a part time caseload of clients. Last week he told me, “I have never been busier in my whole career. And I’m retired!”
He shared how unique this present moment is. “No one alive has been through this before. In my career I witnessed Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement, 9/11, and the 2008 economic crash. But this is different. I’ve never seen as much anxiety in nearly 50 years of work.”
“How are you?” she asked. He usually says, “Good.” But today, his eyes were dark, almost bruised underneath. His hair was a mess.
“How are you?” she repeated. His only response was a five second sigh.
Inexpressible exasperation. You feel like you’re carrying a backpack full of rocks and you’re not allowed to put it down. Pandemic anxiety. Masks and vaccines. Political toxicity. 9/11 remembrance. Afghan tragedy. Hurricane devastation. Future uncertainty. Families fractured . . .
It is a moment in history when only a sigh will work. There are no words. At times like these, I’d like to make a case for revival. I know. You’re thinking of a big tent revival with a fired up charismatic preacher shouting and sweating behind a podium. But “revive” is a biblical word. It means to “restore to life” or “to give new strength or energy.” I want to show you this word in the Bible and how you can use it in your life.
I know. You’re tired and stressed. We’re in the middle of a long, multifaceted crisis. It’s not just COVID and health. It is a crisis of convergence – medical, societal, racial, economic, and political. Any one of these would be a burden to carry. All together, they feel like an elephant on your shoulders. Here are seven pieces of godly wisdom for living faithfully under stress. (Some of these arose from a Zoom call with Rick Warren. A story for another day . . .)
On Wednesday, January 6th, 2021, I saw a flag charging the Capital steps. It had two names on it. The name of our Savior and the name of our president. I was angry. Not for political reasons, but for theological reasons. Why?
A pandemic. A monumental election. Wildfires and hurricanes. Cries for justice. Economic disaster. Societal confusion. Is this THE END? Is this the Apocalypse?
This is an email sent to my congregation in St. Louis, MO. It is an attempt to provide pastoral guidance and perspective to our congregation when so many people are frustrated, angry, and confused. With my colleagues, Pastor Bobby Walston and Pastor Paul Dickerson, we desire for our people to follow Christ faithfully in days of uncertainty.
In a contentious election week, your pastors desire to share a response to some common statements we hear. Our heart is for you. Our desire is for you to walk faithfully in Christ, without fear or despair. Our role is not to advocate for a political system. We are pastors. Our calling is higher, to guide you in the ways of God that you might walk faithfully in service to him.