10 simple steps to preaching a sermon on Epigenetics

1. Preach a sermon on neurons, get to know a brain scientist in the process, and wait for her to send you an email saying, “Hey John, you should look at this cool science my husband does – Epigenetics!”

2. When you get the part of her email that says, “Scientists have irrefutably shown that Darwin wasn’t quite correct… your environment can change your genes, and these changes are heritable,” be reminded of that part of the second commandment that says, “…to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me.”

3. Think, “hey, that’ll preach!”

4. Apply for a $30,000. grant from the John Templeton foundation to preach 5 sermons on faith and science and recieve grant monies to take the entire church to your city’s new science centre so that you can preach the epigenetics sermon there and then gift the congregation with time to explore the world of science for themselves.

5. Meet with the epigenetics scientist and a university science grad several times and go to school on them.

6. Take the risk and say, “As I’ve engaged the epigenetics text, this is the bible passage that comes to mind for me… what do you think?”

7. Hear the scientist excitedly say, “That would be perfect actually.”

8. Make plans to preach (and prepare) the sermon in two parts; 10 minutes on Epigenetics 101, and 25 minutes as a theological response.

9. Meet together the day before preaching and ‘preach each other’s part’ to each other. Get excited about the perfect fit. Assuage the scientist’s anxiety about being too sciency. Calm the pastor’s nerves about communicating the science correctly.

10. Show up at the science centre with a crowd that is twice the size of a normal Sunday service, and preach Christ; through the book of epigenetics and the book of the bible. Pray for epiphanies to happen.

(11. Postscript: And here’s how the message turned out – http://vimeo.com/35423943 )

9 thoughts on “10 simple steps to preaching a sermon on Epigenetics

  1. David Southwell

    Dear John:

    As I heard your “Daybreak Alberta” segment on epigenetics being broadcast throughout the province yesterday I felt obliged to respond.

    Theologians don’t do good science, mainly because they think that they start with a book containing all the answers (this is something of a faux pas in scientific circles).

    To spend a day amateurishly sampling scientific literature, cherry picking a few experimental results and then attempting to imbue your theological perspectives with credibility from them is highly disingenuous and intellectually dishonest.

    “Science confirms Old Testament!” – how dare you Sir?!

    The expanding sphere of scientific understanding is systematically displacing the fear and ignorance that all superstitious belief systems are rooted in – it’s a powerful thing for Theologians to admire from afar – but not for them to participate in…

    …just don’t go there…


  2. john van sloten

    Emily… Video link should be up on our church webpage in a day or so (it’s being vetted by the Science Center before we post it). Links to other science sermons are already on the site; on the kidney, Large Hadron Collider, Neurons, Wound Healing,Faith v Science… just search the word science on our site, and make sure to use the Vimeo, or Bliptv links (full videos) Thanks for your interest.

  3. JVS

    It was a terrific event Tara… we’ll post video of the lectures/sermons soon. So cool to do church at the science centre… it belongs to God too right?

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