When Your Main Point Isn’t

When Your Main Point Isn’t

We have been looking at some stories of when things went wrong in the preaching context, and then trying to come up with a plan for meeting these challenges.  This is part of a series, and you can connect with the first one through this link.  In today’s post I want to consider what to do when your main point isn’t made.  In fact, when it is hijacked.

The Background

say no to distractionsWe decided to have a share time in the service.  This, as you may have experienced, is a dangerous time in church.  You have little control over what someone might say.  However, it also can be an upbuilding time for the congregation.  So we do it.  Well, in this service I was going to preach on the challenge we have bringing the gospel to our world.  As I recall, the passage I was considering was the exhortation from Peter to always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you.  (I Peter 3:15)

Within the message I had shared some difficult times I had witnessing to people about my faith.  I shared my discomfort when talking with my neighbor about her frustrations with her teenage son, and struggling to find a connection that would allow me to shift the conversation to a spiritual one, since my wife and I had been praying about opportunities to share our faith with her.

The Main Point Stolen

At the end of the message I asked people to share their experiences in sharing their faith.   There were about 200 people in the service that evening, and as I looked at the crowd, I saw a group of people who took their faith seriously.

After a few moments of awkward silence, people began to share their experiences.  This testimony time was working out to be everything I had hoped.  People were sharing, and the desire of their hearts to see more people come to faith was shining through.  In other words, the main point in my message was shining through.

But then, in one of those stunning reversals that can happen in a worship service, I experienced one of those moments when your main point isn’t the main thing anymore.

The Main Point Becomes a Sub Point

What happened?   Charlie stood up and asked for the microphone to share.  Now you have to know a few things poster about distractionsabout Charlie to grasp what happened.  Charlie had been a heavy drug user in his youth, and it had affected his brain.  He was on several meds to control his paranoid schizophrenia.  And even with the meds, there were times when he was a bit risky to have around.  You never knew what he would say in a setting like this.  But, there he was with his hand up to speak.  With appropriate hesitation the mic carrier handed it over.  Here was the story, as I best recall his words:

“I was in a bar in Honolulu, and I was smashed.  I had been there for hours, sipping on one drink after another.  And I looked around and saw all these people, and I suddenly realized that they were all going to hell.  I knew I had to do something.  So I took off my shoes and socks.  I put a match between all the toes. Then I climbed up on the table and lit the matches.  I stood up and shouted out the Lord’s Prayer until the fire reached my feet.”

Charlie then handed the mic back.

What do you do when your main point isn’t made?

dealing with distractionsEveryone just sat there in a kind of shocked silence.  What do you do?  I have to say that I knew Charlie pretty well from years of ministry in that church, and I knew that he was sincere in his desire to see people come to Christ.

So what did I do?  I closed the sharing time with a time of prayer, asking God to make us aware of the many people around us who are on their way to hell, and to give us courage to share the Good News with them.  Sometimes, the only thing you can do when your main point is subverted, is to bring the main point back to being the main point.

 

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