Death of the Sermon?

Christianity has always been growing, changing, and evolving.  In recent years the rate of change has accelerated.  Here in America the shift toward a less religiously affiliated population is well underway.  Recent research has led many experts to speculate that it is reasonable to think the nones (those with no religious affiliation) will grow even more rapidly in the next few decades. For those who have chosen to remain a part (or who have opted to become a part) of Christianity, corporate Read More …

Monday Morning Sermon Quarterbacking

Monday morning quarterbacking happens around the brunch/lunch table on Sunday, at the watercooler on Monday, and in so many other social gatherings throughout the week.  Many sports fans engage in conversation about how they, in hindsight, would have done things differently in the big game (assuming they had been the coach).  Likewise, many worship participants like to critique their minister's sermons in some form of post-worship conversation that often suggests a different preaching path would Read More …

Sermon Preferences

According to the latest survey by LifeWay Research, most Americans prefer in person preaching to a video sermon when attending worship at a church.  About a third (35%) indicated they will only visit churches with services of worship that feature live sermons.  Strikingly, less than 1% prefer viewing a video sermon. So What? I have only attended one service of worship that featured a video recording of a pastor's sermon.   Prior to that experience, I disliked the idea.  After the Read More …

Sermon: The Best Sermon

Sermon Text Matthew 5-7 Sermon Excerpt I begin in a way I never have before and likely never will again by offering a bold guarantee. I assure you that this morning's sermon will be the best sermon you will ever hear. With this in mind, let us pray . . . As those who seek to follow the way of Jesus, may his wisdom continue to be our guide.  Take and use the words I will speak to empower our imaginations, awaken us to new possibilities, and embolden us in our actions. Amen. When Read More …

Sermon Prep

Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, recently facilitated a Twitter poll asking pastors to share how long they spend preparing a sermon.  The results show that most pastors take between 10-18 hours to prepare each message.  More specifically: 70% prep between 10 and 18 hours, 15% prep between 7 and 9 hours, 10% prep for 6 hours or less, and 6% devote 19 hours or more to prepare each message. So What? Sermons vary widely in many respects, Read More …

No More Sermons

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 Read More …

A Spiritual-But-Not-Religious First

Diana Butler Bass, popular speaker and the author of several books including Christianity After Religion: The End of the Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening, labeled President Obama's second inaugural speech "the first spiritual-but-not-religious inaugural sermon," while recognizing such is "a twenty-first century expression of American civil spirituality, embedded in but not dependent upon the ancient vision of American Protestant theology of and for God’s almost-chosen, always Read More …

Life-Giving Wind

Earlier today, I had the privilege of preaching a Pentecost sermon based on Acts 2:1-21 at Naples United Church of Christ. Sermon Text Like many of you, I grew up in the church. More specifically, I grew up in one congregation – the First Presbyterian Church in Arlington, Texas.  I quickly learned my way around the church – from playground to pew.  After attending worship for years, participating in Sunday school, and completing confirmation, I was sure I knew what it meant to be Read More …

In 5 Words or Less

Jonah preached what is arguably the shortest sermon in the Bible (Jonah 3:4): just 8 words in the NRSV: Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown! just 7 words in the Message: In forty days Nineveh will be smashed just 5 words in the original language (Hebrew) So What? One need not be long-winded to be effective.  The results of Jonah's five word sermon were nothing short of amazing.  In our sound bite culture where big ideas are often conveyed or discussed in 140 characters Read More …

So What?

In the August 9, 2011 edition of the Christian Century the following item appeared, which had previously been printed in the July, 2011 edition of Interpretation:  A young woman preaching her first sermon seemed to do everything right: her exegesis was sound; the text and title of the sermon matched well; the sermon was carefully organized and delivered in a clear and understandable manner.  But the sermon was wrongheaded, especially in context -- an African-American congregation.  The people Read More …