Can I Get an Amen?
No seriously, can I get one? Just one? Been preaching in the PCA for 7 years now, and granted, I’m no Charles Spurgeon, but surely I have said something worthy of one, single, solitary, amen.
It happened this past Sunday. Well, sort of. Not quite an “amen,” but a child, clearly not yet discipled in the value Presbyterian orderliness, answered a rhetorical question from my sermon. It was so refreshing that I actually stopped to say thank you.
Look, I get it. TCPC has the deserved reputation of being a congregation that values liturgical order. But what if I told that it is precisely because we love liturgy that we, of all people, should be shouting “Amen!”
The word liturgy literally means “the work of the people.” And this is primarily how we view worship. It is the God ordained time for God’s people to gather together and fulfill our highest calling—worship of the living God. Worship has other benefits, most significantly the edification of God’s people and a witness to the watching world, but primarily it is the set apart time to corporately praise the Lord.
This is why the voice of the congregation is so prominent in our liturgy. We don’t view you as an audience gathered to listen to musicians and ministers; we view you as participants gathered to be led by musicians and ministers. In this way, Sunday’s order of worship is a script that we have come to enact for the God that we adore, and this is why every element of our worship is participatory.
Well every element except for the sermon. That’s where you sit and listen to me talk for 30 minutes, right?
Preaching is not a lecture (my work). Preaching is a liturgical act (the work of the people). Just like all the other elements of our liturgy where the minister leads and congregation responds, the minister also leads in preaching, and the congregation responds.
How? Your amen.
Amen means, “so be it.” Therefore when congregants shout amen, they are agreeing with the proclamation of the pulpit. This is what we see in Revelation. Heavenly creatures created, it seems, for one purpose—to shout “amen!” Truth is proclaimed in the heavens, and these creatures echo the truth with their a loud, “amen!”
Your amen is not your encouragement to the preacher (though it is encouraging), but more so, it is your agreement with what is being proclaimed. So if the proclamation stirs you, then by all means, testify to the heavens and shout “Amen!”