Today my parents and I went to Living Hope Community Church in Fox Lake, Wisconsin. The church was beautiful on the inside as well as outside. The people were very welcoming and courteous.
One of the elders gave announcements after we sang a few worship songs and explained that the head pastor of the church had recently left, and the church was in a transition period. Their pastor today was a guest named Derek Vande Slunt.
Pastor Derek started his sermon by introducing himself because he was new to the congregation. He told us that he has been a pastor for 11 years, he went to Northwestern College in Iowa, and right now he is currently without a church. Starting out a sermon to a lot of new faces with a little bit about yourself and your credibility is a great idea.
During his introduction, he did not come across as nervous, but he did have a ton of filler ‘um’s and ‘ah’s. However, when he began his lesson in earnest, he dropped the fillers altogether. When he started reading the passage he was going to be teaching from, the congregation started to stand, which took me by surprise. Apparently, the tradition in that church is to stand when the Gospel is read. After he finished the passage, he invited us to sit down. He then said that us standing had taken him a bit by surprise too. He did a good job handling his shock and not letting it get in the way of his message.
He had a great use of hand gestures when he was speaking. He also had great posture and didn’t pace too much. The way he was dressed also helped us perceive him as credible. His talk was on a heavy subject, and he used his voice to convey that mood. There was lots of variety, and great pauses for emphasis. When he used examples of medical situations that we would have to face, or historical events that we could learn from, he sounded very knowledgeable. Sometimes people try to talk about things and it’s clear they don’t understand it very well, but that wasn’t the case here. I also noted that he has great critical thinking skills, and can find underlying lessons easily, because he tied the story of the Gospel into the book Lord of the Flies. He also quoted a source for his talk which added to his credibility immensely. John Piper is a very well known theologian. He is an accomplished Christian author, speaker, and authority. I had the privilege of hearing him speak at a conference called TCX.
Unfortunately for the speakers, there was a lot (I mean, a LOT) of interference for them to deal with. There were what seemed like dozens of children and babies crying and running around, everyone there seemed to have a cold and was coughing or sneezing at some point, and the walls seemed to echo and create even more noise. But in spite of all of that, Pastor Derek still gave a wonderful presentation.