Thoughts About Church (4)

The sermon is part of church you really can’t get away from. And frankly, most sermons bore me. The simple style of a sermon and how it’s presented can say a lot about church.

In the Baptist church I grew up in, and many I’ve visited since, the sermon is the centerpiece of the Sunday service, and it’s given a full 40 minutes. Now maybe I’m just a TV-addicted, fast food, microwave, insta-person, but I have a really hard time paying attention to a 40 minute sermon. As hard as I try, I lose interest in the middle and my mind goes somewhere else.

My current church has sermons of 20 minutes or less, and sometimes I think they aim for 10-15 minutes. This is a much better time frame when it comes to actually paying attention and getting something out of the message, for me anyway. It’s probably a lot harder to really go in-depth, but what’s the point of going in-depth if I don’t have the patience to follow?

But no matter the length of the sermon, what really interests me is that we have a sermon. The speech is practically a historical footnote today, relegated to politicians and pastors. Back in the days before TV, movies, and radio, I imagine speeches were all the rave. Not so much today.

Sometimes I wonder why the church clings to such an old-school device. The Bible doesn’t exactly give guidelines that every Sunday service must include a biblically based message. Yet I think people would flip out if we tried to remove the sermon from today’s church services. What about a play? Or a video? Do we even have to have some sort of exhortation or challenge? Hmm.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts About Church (4)”

  1. i like sermons, for the most part. the 40 minutes or so is refreshing. after all, as a student i spend 5 days of the rest of my week listening to teachers talk for hours on subjects that don’t interest or apply to me.

    it’s the latter point that i struggle with, as far as sermons go. i can sit still, fill in the blanks on the little note sheet, hear every word… and still come away with nothing new. the most powerful “sermons” i’ve ever heard were by a woman without seminary training, but with a passion for God…

  2. Josh –

    I don’t think sermons are the point of church. I think church is a teaching time and that can be done in many ways. I don’t think the sermon should be eliminated but I do think that a little variety from time to time is necessary. Some sundays could be a music and scripture read. (we do this the sunday after christmas at our church and i really like it) Have guest speakers more often then when the pastor is on vacation, I think if we change things, just a little bit, we’ll be able to reach more people. Especially since the sermon is geared toward people with a long attention span in the morning.

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