Big difference between the two.
While you think about that difference, consider these two items I read earlier this morning that furthered my own thinking.
1. In this blog post, Steve Scott discussed whether the sermon, in an organized church service, is actually biblical. I agree with him that we really don't see that form of teaching in the bible. His main concern is that when we focus on the sermon as the "main event" of what we do on Sunday, then we may miss the point of worship altogether.
Worship is not ordained by God as a checklist to please him. He does not prescribe five, or however many, acts of worship that leave us in sin if we do not complete them all. Worship--all facets of it--are ordained by God to teach us about him and to enable the church to be built up.
The sermon should function instructively, but not as the only teaching moment during worship. The bible, Christian doctrine, and Christian life are all taught during singing, prayer, sharing in the Lord's Supper, and, of course, during the sermon.
Which leads me to the second item I read.
2. In the Christian Century, a letter writer responded to an article about preaching. Thinking along the lines of Steve Scott, he responded that
...the model of a sermon establishes and maintains passivity in the congregation, and changing that model requires more than honing the preacher's oratorical or entertainment skills. It requires a new paradigm for the sermon in which the preacher's primary task is to engage the congregation in sermons that are designed to be interactive.
Hmmm. Interactive. Not passive information transfer, but interactive... transformative?
The letter writer went on to suggest a method where the sermon text was studied in the bible study, and where 3 or 4 bible study members participated heavily in the study, to provide more interactivity.
Could the reason we don't see what we want to see in our churches be that we have quit looking to be transformed, to have our lives changed, by the truth that is in God's word?
Let me illustrate how transformation is different from information.
As I read the book of Acts, I see the early church sharing together--in prayer, in possessions, and in much time. Now I have information about the early church--what they did, how they acted, how they expressed the gospel.
So I take this information to a bible study (you may already see where this is going). At the bible study, we study key passages in Acts to illustrate the "3 Ways the Early Church Expressed the Gospel." After bible study, we have knowledge of how the early church existed. Then we move on to our worship service.
What if, instead of merely transferring information, we stopped and asked, "How would our lives be different if actually DID what the early church did?" What if we stopped studying and started applying?
I know we'd have all manner of excuses why we couldn't actually do this. But doesn't that attitude speak more about our own fears, insecurities, and even pride than anything else?
To be transformed, we have to obey. Obedience sometimes leads into scary situations. Just ask Abraham. Or Jesus.
But God gave us the bible not so we could learn a bunch of things about church organization and governance, but so we could be transformed into his image.
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:1-2, TNIV)
Big difference between the two.
This blog is for articles and book reviews. I post my sermons at my Sermons page, where you can listen to sermons online or download them in MP3 format.
Although I work for the Otisville Church of Christ in Otisville, Michigan, this blog represents my own thoughts and does not necessarily correspond to the views and workings of the Otisville Church of Christ.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.