5.26.2009

Preaching

Read a rant on preaching here.

There is a great quote from Gabriel Moran.
“Probably only a clergyman could believe that preaching is a good model, let alone the best model, for understanding the religious life of mankind. It would be a near impossibility to find any non-clergymen who think of preaching and sermonizing as significant at all. Most people who give a thought to it conclude that preaching is an anachronism which is allowed existence because it bothers no one. However, if one’s professional life is centered on any activity, it is possible to view the whole world in light of that endeavor.”

Curious if anybody has any thoughts. Hopefully more than those who had opinions on Brueggemann's video.

4 comments:

David Malouf -- said...

I have been deconstructing 'the sermon' for a few years now - not the actual practice so much as the place it holds in most, local churches.

I agree that they're lame, but I also think that misses the point. I think my blog template is lame, but that's not the point of the blog.

My thoughts to-date: currently, sermons are an alternative to relationships. Sermons used to be for information transfer but that is now failing because (1) people can read [new to the human experience], (2) most sermon givers just aren't all that bright [see the referred to blog's joke about how almost all preachers think they are above average making "average" = "above average"?!?] making the sermons either worthless or actually toxic, and (3) cult of personality [the only other places I currently know of that use sermons are Home Depot (we HAD to watch HomeDepotTV in the breakroom, per the idiotic Bob Nardelli - the one who is now sinking Chrysler) and cults].

Perhaps a review of the purpose of preaching would be in order? Then a recasting/recrafting of the role and expression of preaching can be accomplished?

Travis said...

I wouldnt go so extreme as Dave about sermons having so little a place, or being so worthless. I do believe in the gift of teaching. So I guess that most people who are sermonizing without that gift are those who make it so boring and maybe relatively 'worthless'. I do believe that the 'public reading of Scripture' has its place no matter how gifted the people in a given community are. I know from my own experience that I've learned a lot from sermons. I think I'm an audio learner. But I know plenty of people that walk out of them as if they hadn't heard what was said, obliviously contradicting it in the parking lot.

So, I think there must be a balance struck that doesn't kill the thing, but like Breuggeman said that brings it to life for the community. We must empower those who are endowed with the gift of teaching and exhortation and evangelism to 'fan into flame' their gifts into a public expression. I think we must also challenge church communicators to be creative in communication and empowered by the Holy Spirit. I know if I do those two things that a message I bring will take more effect.

At the same time, for the sermon to be 90% of leaders' time spent, and 90% of what church is about to many Christians, I think this is the major flaw. It produces passive people who can't multiply. They depend on their teacher of choice and are satisfied with that.

BAB said...

So would it be safe to say that a sermon is just one of the golf clubs a teacher could pull out of his or her golf bag to carry out his or her task?

The thing I think about is effectiveness. I have learned or been changed by a few sermons, but the vast majority of my learning has taken place through personal research and an interactive learning environment like a classroom.

The one thing I think is a flaw is that the learner is not free to ask questions. I think about Paul in an upper room teaching through an extended conversation where people can respond to what is being said. The flaw of the sermon to me is that it is so one way.

Do you think the mainline practices of 10 min sermons might hit the spot?

David Malouf -- said...

I don't think I'd say 'that a sermon is just of the golf clubs a teach could pull' because 'the sermon' is vastly more than teaching. To that end, I'd say a 'sermon' is all-but unrelated to the public reading of Scripture - a practice used mostly in illiterate locations of the People of God (if I remember my history correctly).

My question is: Why the uncritical combining of 'the gift of teaching' and 'sermon'? Even more, the uncritical combination of teacher, leader, and 'the sermon'!?!? [I'm not sure how exhortation or evangelism made it into the list, but that's probably due to differing definitions of those words]

I am NOT supposing that relationships replace teaching - I am strictly theorizing about the end of 'the sermon.'

For two reasons: (1) it's ineffective (per BAB's last comment) to the point of being, at minimum, mildly toxic, and (2) I think 'the sermon' takes the place of something good and healthy that is now missing.

Gathering together is both Scripturally and historically a part of the people of God. There are some 'requirements' as to what is done during such gatherings - I would contend that 'sermons' are not Scripturally Required.

So I'm back to: what's the purpose of gathering? If 'sermons' are the best way to accomplish some purpose of gatherings, then Yeah! But I highly doubt it.