Day: August 21, 2008

Are sermons dying?

Are sermons dying? I don’t mean is your preaching killing people, but are sermons themselves going the way of the dodo bird — headed for extinction? Worship in most evangelical churches, and that includes many small churches, still resembles evangelical worship in 19th century churches — singing, prayer, offering, preaching, invitation. Charles Spurgeon would be proud. Or would he?

Read Kevin Kelly’s post about Clay Shirky’s talk on media here. Then, watch the video of Shirky’s talk in its entirety — about 8-minutes. You’ll be glad you did.

One of Shirky’s main points is that the main media in our culture — TV — has served to siphon off our collective creativity. Shirky has some fascinating stats on how many hours we watch TV, how many hours it took to do the entire Wikipedia project (which is still on-going, obviously), and how much brain power is out there. He ends with the story of the 4-year old looking for the mouse.

Which brings me back to my question — if our culture is moving toward a producer society where everybody can participate, what’s the future of the sermon? At least the sermon as we know it — one guy or gal talking without interruption for 15-20 minutes, no questions, no comments, no participation.

Or are sermons just a form of message delivery, honed to a fine edge during the 19th century? And, if sermons are just a form of delivery and not inherently indispensable, what will replace them? What message delivery forms will we see in the 21st century? Do powerpoints and film clips imbedded in sermons present us with a new message delivery platform, or are they just the old sermon dressed up in 21st century technology? What would a real 21st century “sermon” look like? Where would it be delivered? What media would carry it? Just asking….