Sunday, March 13, 2005 by niebuhrian
Lying in bed, my wife and I thought it would be neat if we could just set up a live news feed and I could preach my sermon from the comfort of my home. “We already have a Naked Chef,” she giggled, “Why not a Naked Preacher?”
Of course, being somewhat true to my Southern heritage, I thought that I would have to be “The Nekkid Preacher.” Lewis Grizzard, a long dead newspaper columnist explained the difference in this manner, “Naked,” he stated, “meant that you didn’t have any clothes on, nekkid on the other hand, meant that you didn’t have any clothes on and you were up to something.”
It is almost thirty-six hours— a worship service, a session meeting, and youth group— later and I still can’t help but smile and wonder about our conversation. I have created a picture in my head of a sanctuary with large television screens looming out over the congregation. The organ booms out the last verse of “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” and the monitors switch on above the congregation’s head. An audible gasp escapes from their mouths as the screens come to life and the picture begins to focus. Looming above them, I am twenty feet tall, bare chested, I’ve got bed head, and I’m lying there Bible and sermon notes splayed around me. The Nekkid Preacher has just entered the building…
The more I think about it, the more I like it…
There is something to the image and the idea. For me, good nekkid ministry is not about what separates us, but what brings us together. The only thing that we all have in common is that we are taking the same journey through life, from birth to death. Whatever communities we belong to, we belong first to the human race and all of the conditions that it entails, ministers included. When ministry is done well it gives ample credence to this journey.
Transparency, openness, an oasis of real in a world of shallow and fake and quick, that is nekkid ministry. It is Crock-pot Christianity for a microwave generation. This is ministry where we are laid bare before God in the loving care of one another.
Nekkid ministry is not about quick answers, seven steps to spiritual security, or figuring out God’s plan for your life. Nekkid ministry is about mystery, it is about struggling, it is about loving and caring and finding hope when all seems lost. And nekkid ministers cannot do that when they feel like they know the answers to all of the questions. Nekkid ministry takes place where people feel safe to be, it takes place where life gets messy. And the favorite response of a nekkid minister is “I don’t know, but let’s find out together.”
Yep, nekkid ministry is the antidote shallow attempts to bend the will of God to a certain moral code. It has only one law, in three parts; the law is love and the parts are God, yourself, and your neighbor. It takes the bible seriously, but not literally. It says that God is about relationships, not about judgment or punishment. Nekkid ministry knows that people fail, that ministers fail, but that God does not fail.
So, let’s get nekkid and see what happens!