Just about every two weeks or so between the Feast of Tabernacles and the Days of Unleavened Bread, my congregation has a sermonette workshop for those of us who are involved in giving sermonettes. It has always greatly amused me that the ministry who critique the sermonettes that we give do not tend to give very many such messages themselves. And it is equally clear as an observer of such things that there is a great deal of resistance to change on the part of many speakers to giving the sort of sermonettes that the ministry wants to be given. As an observer of such matters I find such things fascinating. I have written before the genre of the sermonette , and it is worth commenting on here that the sermonette as a genre exists because the ministry was deliberately seeking to encourage the speaking and leadership abilities of people within the local congregation, although it is clear that the origins of the sermonette have been largely forgotten and what was once viewed as an opportunity has increasingly been seen by many as a birthright.
What is it that people want from a short message? When one is giving a short message it is easy to think of a topic and then to try to talk about that topic, but given the size of the Bible or any particular topic, the end result is a very superficial discussion of things that do not tend to resonate well with the audience. If one wants focus then one has to do one of two things, and that is either to start from a particular passage or verse or even a word in a verse and then look at it in a detailed and organized and structured fashion, or to pick a topic that is so narrow that one can deal with it all at once. The second is much harder than the first but it can be done. That said, it appears that these are both hard to do when someone has not been trained from the beginning on how to succeed at the art of the sermonette as the powers that be want it and at the same time have enough power to speak as they wish and as they are accustomed to so long as they are willing to be teased about it.
Change is hard, and I am continually finding change management to be a task that is needed but seldom in evidence. Those who want to change others typically have acquired or desire some sort of power and are trying to counter the natural and completely understandable inertia that people have against change. How does one deal with this? How does one seek to gently influence people to change based on something that mutually recognized as an important goal rather than to try to bully people who will resist and who may make it impossible to accomplish the change that is desired, especially when there are few people who are able to provide the change that is wanted. It is a hard thing to be patient and to be willing to take the time and effort to respect the sensitivities of others while urging them to make necessary and important change. If this is true in small things, it is certainly true of areas where people attach a great deal of their own dignity and honor.