What sorts of arguments might be raised (rightly or wrongly; fairly or unfairly) against preaching?
Here are some.
- Adult Education suggests most adults learn by doing. If a sermon is meant to teach people the faith then it is a poor method of teaching. If you want people to really ‘learn’ they need to be able to interact, ask questions, voice opinions and discuss. Even Universities have done away with the hour long ‘lecture’.
- Our (post-) modern world is geared to sound bites and as a result attention spans have diminished. Nobody listens to monologues. We are no longer able to concentrate and listen for long periods – not even 10 minutes let alone 20+.
- Our world is geared to images; we are now a TV not a radio world. The visual speaks, the spoken word less so.
- Sermons are dictatorial, they put the preacher two feet above contradiction.
- We live in a world where the expert is no longer automatically respected. We know authority can be abused and we do not necessarily trust those who make claims we can’t challenge.
- Sermons are manipulative. They are an attempt at brain washing, to persuade and convince -which is exactly what politicians and cults are trying to do. Sermons are spin!
- Sermons can’t cater for the diversity of the congregation. We now know that people develop spiritually, as physically, at different rates. In a congregation there are many levels of faith and belief. How then can a sermon hope to reach or teach everyone without boring some, annoying others and going over the heads of the rest?
- The proof is in the pudding – how many sermons have you heard and how many have not just made an impact and been remembered but actually changed your life?
- Many sermons end up being works orientated, ethics based, finger wagging attempts to convince the preacher and the congregation that they ought to be better Christians. What the congregation must do is pray more, read their Bible more, make a response (again)….The apostles proclaimed Good News not how to be good and caused a significant reaction in their listeners (Acts 2:37, 7:54, 10:44, 11:18, 17:32). Modern sermons rarely get congregations to react!
- The weekly sermon in a worship service is a fairly recent invention with little biblical or historical support…