I am coining the term Sermonetics - the theory of the stuff you hear every Sunday from the pulpit.
Take a minute and think about what you have learned from the pulpit over the years - your participation in Sermontics. A preacher once said, "I don't remember every sermon that I have heard, nor do I remember every meal that have ever eaten. I just know that in both cases, I was fed." Unless of course you were doing something ELSE.
What comes from our pulpits should be life to us every week.
I happen to feel that there are some misconceptions regarding the pulpit. The first being that the pulpit has, unfortunately, become an icon for church, and sometimes the central focus of church ministry altogether.
We we look at a church, we should see that everyone is trained in the basics of one-on-one ministry. That, in itself, is probably one of the biggest tragedies in the American church today, that we have become primarily spectators. Of course there are many facets of church life, but the pulpit has taken over, pushing aside just about everything but occasional evangelism. It seems that every Sunday is word and song worship, coffee and Fellowship Lite (less calories and commitment).
Let's take a look at what the pulpit is meant to be, and what should happen there.
First, preaching is meant to reach the heart. (Acts 2:14-40) Second teaching is meant to open the scriptures to us, so that we can understand them as Christ intended them to be understood; "putting on the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:16)
Teaching is a role (Eph 4:11) in the church, and preaching is not. Because preaching is meant to reach the heart, it is intended to be an agent of permanent change. Therefore; we preach the Gospel unto salvation. Preaching is a spiritual wooing that our human spirit must respond to. Teaching on the other hand, is the understanding of what we have received in our spirit.
Preaching is a message from God directed at changing us. Teaching is the understanding of the ways of God meant to build us up.
During the salvation experience the Holy Spirit becomes a seal - a decision that we make with eternal ramifications - changing our heart for eternity. That is the result of fruitful preaching. Preaching often comes with a demonstration of God's power, that is why it changes our heart. We can preach the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the impartation of spiritual gifts and repentance. Responses to preaching are supernatural. Responses to teaching are intellectual (with an internal witness).
Teaching is an essential process in the life of the Christian. We need the knowledge of God to become like Him. A lot of folks think that the church is basically not well taught. Here is my opinion - hey, isn't that why you read Fire & Grace anyway? Liturgical churches use basically that same liturgy week after week; 52 weeks a year. The homily is usually a simple application of a selected Bible verse. That is a pretty limited diet.
Evangelical churches tend to have their own calendars. New Year's is a sermon on vision, Christmas is the story of salvation, Easter is the resurrection, Mother's Day is Proverbs 31, Father's Day men don't go to church, the 4th of July is freedom and Summer is Vacation Bible School and evangelism... we have lost over 30% of the year, and then we add to that a sermon on tithing, one of serving, and one on ministries in the church and half the year is gone to repetition - also a limited diet of milk. More on that by Dave T. HERE
Without looking at the bulletins in your leatherette zippy Bible case, can you name the other 26 topics that were supposedly preached to you in the last year? Was there lasting change in your life - permanent victory?
Last week I experienced a wonderful thing in church, we had a testimony of a man healed of lung cancer! I would have like to hear a few more of those - now that's exciting, faith building and memorable. Burp! And it fed me. I don't remember what the sermon was on.
I honestly feel that the preaching should be reserved for evangelism and other demonstrations of God's word. How about a teaching on healing, followed by healing? How about one on each spiritual gift with a demonstration of each one afterwords? An what about one on relationship that is deeper than "be nice to each other," followed by foot washing, or a call to action?
We need good preaching.
When it comes to teaching, it can be pretty boring - so it better be God! I always wondered why we had recurring themes in church. Are we that thick or unengaged? Can we please test out of Sunday morning?
Unless there is a really great book I haven't read, I don't want a book study. And if you are going to do a Bible study, can that be God too? Just askin'.
We need good teaching.
Other than the basics of salvation, what are the topics of the most useful and memorable sermons you've heard - the ones that changed you? Or just tell us what you never want to hear about again.
Messages should cause us to become doers of the Word and add to the understanding of the work done on the cross without becoming biblical fairy tales.