David Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going to Church and founder of Church for Men, recently asked a question worth considering: “Are Sermons Becoming Obsolete?” In that blog post he suggests something most know but don’t often consider — while lectures were once a preferred and popular means of communication, recent technological shifts have rendered them uncommon outside of two environments: universities and churches. Now, universities are beginning to consider other options preferring to focus on learning outcomes and leverage new technologies rather than simply retool the lecture for a new era. Murrow goes on to suggest that the sermon may become obsolete as a part of the church worship experience:
Just as universities are re-thinking the lecture, it might be time for churches to re-think the sermon. Thom and Joani Schultz polled churchgoers and found that just 12 percent could recall the topic of the last sermon they heard.
The church of the future will likely move away from the current tendency for an ordained sage on the stage who delivers information to a group of guides on the side mentoring and equipping those who follow the way of Jesus. As I have written previously, this may be among the more radical transitions for many congregations.
Murrow asks a challenging question: “What if there were a way of organizing believers around a weekly discipleship experience, instead of a weekly lecture-and-singalong?”
- What is your answer to Murrow’s question?
- How is your congregation actively engaged in considering what this is now and will become in the future for your local community of faith? How are the long range planning processes informed by the best practices emerging in higher education?
- If a sermon remains (either for now or perhaps for many years to come), how should its format and role change?