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August 31, 2008


Sermons are not enough. I coined a phrase a long time ago. It is this. "I've been treated the worst by the best." The harshest treatment I've experienced has been at the hands of mainline church members who are sermonized every Sunday. What is missing? They have a list of rules, but none of God's love. They make Jesus Lord through abstinence and other disciplines. If we are to make Jesus the Lord of our life, God's love will determine every choice we make, for God is Love. If Love fulfills the Law, is sin essentially hatred?

My wife and I were just discussing this. Even our pastor conceded that he doesn't believe people remember much, if at all, from Sunday sermons.

Why shouldn't we break into small groups during church, discuss a topic, reconvene as a whole, and share our thoughts with the pastor moderating?

This "construct" of church that we've had for centuries is certainly not biblically-based. It is a creation of man and thus can be altered to be more effective.

Maybe, Perry, we should distinguish between "biblically-based" and "biblically-mandated." The preacher-hearer model you dismiss as a "construct" of the church, while obviously not commanded in Scripture, certainly has much more biblical support than the smallgroup-moderator alternative you've proposed.

Well, yes, I guess I should have said "biblically-mandated."

I see two strands of preaching in American churches, which I call "How to Be a Good Person" preaching and "Bible Exposition" preaching. Most churches I have attended seem to favor the first, and these sermons, to me, are easily forgotten. The second, taking a congregation through Scripture verse by verse, is a little more intellectually challenging, which I prefer. It also lends itself to a more classroom-style atmosphere.

Perhaps if the objective is either exhortation or instruction determines the style of preaching.

I would be interested to see the biblical support for the " lecture type presentations" that we have in the churches today. I don't see it in 1 Corinthians 14: 26-40. Something is obviously wrong as there is a big disconnect with what is preached and practiced.

I couldn't help but think how blessed it is to be well taught and overseen by qualified heads. Having sat in modern evangelical services for quite a long time, I understand the discontentment, but also think the reason why is that very few "pastors" are really shepherds and the rest are merely hirelings, in it for the money. Most of my struggle was with heads that were unqualified leaving me feeling uncared for.

I believe that there needs to be law and gospel in the rawest form preached in every worship service. And keep in mind, it is a *worship* service and the congregants desires ought not dictate the form or content. Sunday school, or other training opportunities can fill the needs for various teachings.

I remember hearing that the job of the pastor is "to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comforted". Law and gospel properly preached can do both, it's spoken of hear in Heb. 4:12 "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." There is no power to please God in law, but there is power in gospel, it's called gratitude. But you cant get one without the other.

I dont want to seem to reduce this to a formula, which modern evangelicalism is most likely reacting against,[the more structured worship model that follows ligurgy]. I'm a happy convert to Reformed liturgical worship getting shepherded, hearing God's word faithfully preached and respectful, responsible observance of the 2 sacraments within the body.

So, to answer the question, are sermons enough[?], I'd say if it's in Sunday worship, it had better be.

Brad B

Steve's point in the original post was not that we revisit the format of the Sunday gathering. The deficiency he's pointing out is not with the structure of the service per se, but rather is built into the lecture-style of sermons in general.

When a message is communicated through any medium in any setting or format, there is a natural separation between "mere information" and concrete reality. We the passive participants must overcome that separation for ourselves. Faith requires knowledge (content), assent (belief), and trust (practical application). If we know the truth and affirm its validity but never apprehend the truth in our lives through active choices, then truth remains abstract and finds no purchase in us.

I would argue that sermons are essentially concerned with application, otherwise they would be merely academic. This distinguishes preaching from teaching in general. It is sort of teaching in earnest - teaching with an urgent and eternal impact. Teaching that demands a response.

Ha! How prophetic! We just hired a new pastor at the beginning of August and his sermon yesterday was about THIS VERY TOPIC. In fact he used a bag of Doritos to illustrate how just looking at the bag, touching the bag, reading the writing on the bag, studying the bag and then *putting the bag on a shelf* was useless... what we really need to do is EAT THE CHIPS.

I *knew* we had hired the right guy!! :-)


Eat the chips - just never, ever drink the kool-aid. ;)

Thanks for sharing God's confirmation with us. Every testimony about God is like a window into heaven.

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