Scot McKnight hates sermons

OK. Maybe that’s not quite true. But he’s certainly advocating a fairly dramatic reconsideration of how we do “teaching” in churches, and specifically the place of the sermon in that.

“What is most needed is a complete spiritual formation approach to the entire church and for each person; outcomes need to be formulated by the leaders and the church so that the whole approach is embraced. Within the overall approach to realizing outcomes, which I would say are loving God, loving others and a life of holiness, sermons play a role and sometimes an important one. But serious formative changes occur when the individual and the group participate in, activate, and integrate what is being taught. (By the way, that last sentence requires pages of discussion.) And these formative changes take place within a set of outcomes. And, perhaps most importantly, they take place with spiritual directors, pastors, teachers and friends who come alongside to help a person.”

via Third Way Preaching: A Proposal – Jesus Creed.

There’s little doubt that this represents a fairly radical departure from the way that churches work: there’s still very little support for any model of discipleship that doesn’t include Sunday morning (or Sunday evening, or blah blah we’re so original on a Thursday) at the center, whether explicitly or just demonstrated in the way a church runs. The sermon has become sacred, a pillar of Christianity rather than a medium of communication.

Interesting thoughts at least.

4 Replies to “Scot McKnight hates sermons”

  1. ha ha … actually, i agree often, just don’t normally think it’s worth noting that … this post however was timely and so i figured it was worth an ‘amen’

    peace 🙂

  2. I went to what I’ll call a “Christian ministry training event” quite recently. It was multi-denominational with attendees across the age ranges, all planning to do various different kinds of missional living/working in the Australian context over a short-term period. What baffled me was that the first part of the whole thing was basically a church service, complete with music team, songs that church people sing together all the time and, while sincere and true, one of the most boringly delivered sermons that I have tuned in and out of for quite some time.

    I don’t mean to sound unappreciative or disrespectful but I fear that when different, diverse groups of believers in Jesus gather together, that some of our churchy subcultural norms have started to become something of a metaphorical handshake and have lost their sense of reality and meaning.

    This is probably not news. Some of it probably stems from the screw-up-your-nose attitude which I just realised is probably really bad. I am totally unlimited in terms of choice if I want to find “sermon” content. I can podcast high quality presentations from extremely polished preachers. I can even shop for the opinion that suits me the most.

    You’ve hit the nail on the head Geoffrepops, in that it’s the relational connection, in community, with the content and with the guidance of committed eldership, that gives any such spoken content its life-transformational power.

    The other thing that crosses my mind, is the whole idea that, at least as far as my life goes, the key transformational moments haven’t occurred weekly and seldom coincide with a Sunday. That said, I must say that attending a church on a weekly basis, that preaches with a fair emphasis on tracking alongside the biblical text, has had a subtle but definite transforming impact on the things mediate on as I wander through life.

    I am left wondering, if then, we have to let the preached word off the hook because if it wasn’t preached, then “the rocks would soon cry out”. Perhaps instead, we’d do well to emphasise a conscious choice to invest in and belong to the family formed by our immediate community of faith and blame the gap on one of those cool iChurch words like “consumerism” or “individualism”, rather than just going for the sermons because they’re trying to go against the grain for Jesus, even if it doesn’t seem to be working.

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