This post is part of a series telling about my experience with the Board of Ordained Ministry. Other posts in the series are listed in the yellow box at the end of this post.
For this committee, I had to turn in a video recording of a sermon and an outline of a Bible study covering a book of the Bible. The committee then evaluates your comfort in leading worship and your ability to preach and teach to your congregation. I was not completely satisfied with my sermon, but I thought it was good enough. My Bible study was thorough and had some great personal touches that I love. I thought that I would pass this one easy.
I put a lot of work into getting the sermon ready for the committee. I preached it to a friend’s congregation, then I preached it for my final presentation in my preaching class. I got an A on it, and the professor gave me some suggestions to make it even better. I followed those suggestions, and preached the final version of the sermon in front of my congregation and recorded it for the BOM. Unfortunately, I never quite felt comfortable with the changes, and if I would have shown the final version to my professor, I am sure he would have told me that I did not correctly implement what he suggested. The result was that the middle of the sermon was a little flat. In my interview, the committee picked up on it and expressed it as a concern. I agreed with their concern, and explained what I was doing in the sermon, and told them that if I were to do it again, I would make changes. It seemed to me that they did not like the sermon at all, but as I explained to them what I was trying to do, and listened to their critique, they became more comfortable with it. I wish I had just preached it one time and recorded it. I think they would have liked that version much better.
Tip: Do not be defensive. No sermon is perfect. Accept criticism.
They had a few comments on the Bible study, but nothing earth-shattering. One person observed that I did not mention the two-source theory when I introduced Mark, and he wondered if there was a reason that I did not go into those details. I told him that I was currently going through the Bible study with my church, and my introduction session for them did include the two source hypothesis and that they really enjoyed learning about the mysterious ‘Q’ source. I did not include it in my submitted Bible study because it seemed to be outside what the instructions were. They responded by saying that they wanted to see what I would do in the church setting, rather than what I would write to please the committee. They were glad to know that I was not afraid of teaching advanced concepts, like the two source theory, when appropriate.
Tip: Be yourself. Instead of trying to give the committee what they want, preach and teach for the board the same way that you do with your current congregation.
This was the most difficult committee meeting for me, by far. I left this committee not knowing if I passed. It seemed obvious that they did not like my sermon. I think I responded satisfactorily, accepting their critique and explaining what I was attempting to do. That may have made the difference. They seemed to like that I was willing to take criticism. I would say that my ability to reflect critically on a sermon helped me pass this committee rather than my ability to produce a quality sermon.