A Speech or a Sermon

Today – the next 24 hours – will see many sermons preached in many different places around the world. Men and women of God will stand to declare the Word of the Lord for the people they are addressing. It will be a now word, a relevant message, well written. Prayer played a major role in the writing of it. It was researched properly, meditated upon, thought through. God was consulted constantly through the initial research, rough notes stage, and the final writing. He will be seriously involved in the proclaiming of it for it is His Word and it never comes back to Him void but always accomplishes what He sends it forth to do.

However, some people will sleep through these fine teachings. Others will pay little if any attention. Some will read the Sunday bulletin, others will work with their Blackberry answering emails or with their cell phones sending and receiving text messages. Those who do listen will forget most of what they heard and apply none of it. Those who brought a Bible to the Church service and followed along will remember more and apply some. Those who followed along in their Bible and took notes will benefit the most – probably remembering 10% of what is said and applying a small portion of that to their daily life, if any.

What is the problem here? Why is so much time invested and so little gained as a result? Where is the excitement about God’s Word? Why are believers not hungry to hear what God is saying? How come we are at the point of treating God’s Word as one option in the many options we hear daily – and not one that gets top billing but is usually only considered when everything in your life is going south? Do we think the preacher is an idiot? Do we think God is totally out of touch with our needs and our world? Do we no longer believe that the Bible is the Word of God and thus relevant to daily life?

I like what Brother Yun (of The Heavenly Man) had to say recently:

“I have found it doesn’t really matter how much you preach in most churches, because the majority of believers have become ‘sermon proof’. They have listened to thousands of sermons and have become experts at tuning out. Their minds and hearts are far away. They have been conditioned to listen to speeches rather than to respond to the power of the gospel and be changed.”

I think that he has a point there. We are treating God’s Word – or, at least, the sermon – as a speech inparting information that we can keep or discard, listen to or ignore, believe or discount and write off as simply opinion. We are seeing this ‘speech’ as an exchange of information. We are listening (when we do) simply to someone talking.

Instead the sermon should be approached as a time when God’s Spirit through the Word of God will bring transformation – much more than an impartation of information. We should recognize and acknowledge that it is the Gospel that is being preached and that there is power in the Gospel of Jesus Christ to change – transform – permanently alter -a person’s life supernaturally.

In both my home church where I preach regularly and in the churches I minister in by invitation on a regular basis I notice people doing all of the above – Blackberry, cell phone, bulletin – as well as sleeping. Often it is the younger people who nod off and not the older ones. Here’s another problem.

They cared enough to come and worship with other believers. But, they did not prepare their hearts, souls, minds, and BODIES for the service and the hearing of the Word. They did not go to bed early enough to wake up on Sunday morning refreshed, alert, and alive. They did not take time in God’s Word each day of the week and then, on Sunday morning, prepare to hear God’s message to the assembly by talking a few minutes to examine their hearts, repent and receive forgiveness. They do not value the Word of God (being preached) and the preacher (honoring, respecting) enough to pepare ahead of time to get maximum bang for their buck.

And then we wonder why, in most cases, the Church in North America is anemic and weak, impotent and shuffled, by most, to the sidelines of life. We need to begin to “hunger and thirst after righteousness”. That would be one step in the right direction and would go a long way to correcting the problem.

2 replies
  1. Sharon Kuhn
    Sharon Kuhn says:

    Good day Ralph;
    You have made a major point here in this blog. One that I am sure most of us have at one time or the other considered but are at a loss as to how to fix, alter, or find the answer to do something about. It is very frustratiing when you have done all you can to get people’s attention and still fall short!

    I am personally asking for help and advise as to how you get people to understand that this Christian thing is an interactive thing, like the blackberry and cellphone – it won’t do anything for you unless you push the buttons. So it is with our walk with the Lord unless we give input into our spirit through the Word of God how can we expect to get output.

    Sorry but I get so frustrated because of my own experience. If i’d only known what I know now it would have been so much easier going through the wilderness and through the mountains instead of the struggle I encountered. Is it just human nature to do things the hard way, to fight the system tooth and nail and then defiantly say I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work?


  2. Ralph
    Ralph says:

    Hi Sharon,

    The frustration is real – I have felt it in my own life and can feel it while reading your comment.

    It does seem that many Christians are like Frank Sinatra who for years sang “I Did It My Way”, lived that philosophy, and went to Hell for etenity as a result. I am not sure why they are like that.

    I would look first to the Church as the root of the problem is probably in here. We have not taught them that they needed to enter into a discipleship process once they are born again. We have not offered discipleship to them. We have not told them that they need to be equipped and released to minister. We have not offered them mentoring relationships where they can learn first-hand character issues as they share life with mature leaders. I know – even if we have offered them this many would not take advantage of it. But, at least then we will have done oir part as Christian leaders.

    As a result they do not understand the need to learn and to grow and do not view the sermon as a vehicle by which they can grow. They don’t see the sermon as God speaking to them but rather as the pastor sharing his opinion, pet pieve, or favourite topic with them. So, they can listen or turn off – their choice.

    I have been thinking about all this for some time and believe there are some really key issues that leaders – preachers and teachers – need to be struggling with so that we can become better communicators.

    In may ways we cannot change the mindset of those listening to us – so we need to work on our skills and understanding so that we can break through any barriers they have personally built or that our society has intentionally or unintentionally built into them.


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