part of the message, I came onstage in a tuxedo and issued the invitation “Come to the Wedding” (from Revelation 19:1-10), after which we celebrated communion together from a beautifully appointed banquet table to emphasize the wedding supper of the Lamb. After communion, I returned to the stage, this time in Army camo fatigues, and issued the call “Go Out to War” from Rev. 19:11-21. We also had, on each seat in the auditorium, a card with a printed invitation to the wedding of the Lamb on one side and a draft notice on the other; as part of the response, I urged participants if they accepted the wedding invitation to also sign the signature line on the draft notice, emphasizing that we kid ourselves if we think we can come to the wedding without joining in the battle.
My co-pastor at the time, John Johnson, planned and delivered one of the most imaginative messages I think I’ve ever seen. He actually constructed a silo in the auditorium and delivered the first 10 minutes or so of the message from INSIDE the silo, and had a video feed that showed him, contained and isolated in the silo, speaking to us from the big screen! He also had a SECOND camera that he could switch back and forth from to show us the cozy confines of his self-imposed cell. It was a memorable way to depict how many of us tend to prefer isolation from each other rather than engagement and vulnerability and community with each other.
Finally, one Thanksgiving Sunday, I surprised the whole church by concluding my message that day by challenging them to donate their shoes—the shoes they wore to worship that day—to people around the world who don’t have even one pair of shoes to wear, through the ministry of Soles4Souls. God’s people responded magnanimously! It was a day to remember, as worshipers came forward during the closing song, left their shoes on the platform steps and left church BAREFOOT! The following weeks, people donated shoes by the hundreds, and we shipped them as a Christmas gift to the Soles4Souls distribution center!
Over the years, some of my favorite (and, I think, most impactful) preaching experiences have been those in which I remembered to employ multiple senses, especially those beyond sight and sound, and encouraged active participation from the saints. Like when we roped off sections of the crowd to indicate circles of influence. Or when I released a live butterfly as part of the message. Or when the Scripture reading included dramatic sound effects. Or when each worshiper received a small smooth stone or a coin or a dollar to drive home a point. Or when the front of the Easter Sunday auditorium was transformed into a luxuriant garden that not only looked beautiful but spread the fragrance of flowers throughout the room. Those are the moments I enjoyed best as a preacher, and the ones I think people remember best as participants. I only wish there were more of them.