|Not Me! It would have been JLA in my hands!|
Your worship service is the most important effort you make right now to persuade people to a life of the liberal spirit. The sermon is probably where the content of the service is, at the present. Your preacher articulates liberal religion every week.
(Sidebar: I know that this whole scenario is problematic in a lot of ways. If you want to do church a different way, I am not stopping you. But if you are like most of the readers of this blog -- doing congregational worship as UU's have in contemporary times, this is for you.)
Folks want a clear, understandable and memorable message when they come to church, especially if they are not regular church-goers. They want it to have some bite, and some challenge, and to be clear. They want it to be emotional congruent, that the message and the affect of the minister seem to match.
Is your congregation's practice to encourage brave and forthright preaching? Or is your congregation's practice to make the preacher nervous?
When you rush to let the preacher know every place you disagree with the sermon, or with the examples, you're creating anxiety.
When you send the preacher an email, correcting grammar, or the odd fact, or the misplaced attribution, your making the preacher nervous.
When you let the preacher know that the experience that the sermon reflected on was not your experience, and so you feel offended or left out, you're making it hard for the minister to be clear. (There are a small group of people who really didn't like their mothers; they can reduce the Mother's Day sermon for a nervous preacher to mush-mouthed mumbling.)
The nervous preacher projects an eagerness to please that comes across as insincerity and a lack of integrity.
Unitarian Universalism needs wise, brave, forthright, prophetic, perceptive, and provocative preaching on a wide variety of subjects. Above all, preaching needs to interesting and memorable.
Does your congregation encourage great and brave preaching, or does it make the minister nervous?