Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Defending the sermon

Day 2 in the NAMs house saw us paying rapt attention to Steve Holmes. He was excellent, mounting a determined and powerfully argued case for the monologue sermon. He asserted that the sermon is crucial for inspiring rather than conveying information. His monologue contained good pictures and movie clips, as well as the requisite dose of humour and helpful illustration.

I'm not sure I bought his case entirely. But I'm reserving judgement until tomorrow when he delivers part 2.

Apart from that, it's been a good day. The ministry matters session did not contain last year's not entirely convincing assessment of social networking. rather, we were told that a report is being put together on the appropriate use of such new technology. In the meantime there's a good Grove Booklet in its youth work series that tackles the issue.


Glen Marshall said...

The monologue sermon SHOULD be defended along the lines that Stephen suggests. However, what seems to me to be indefensible is the total domination of the monologue sermon. There are things a good monologue sermon can do that other ways of engaging the word can't do. But it can't do everything and other approaches are essential if together we are to do more than any one approach can achieve alone. So, yes, let's keep the monologue, but let's ask it to 'utch up a bit and make a bit of room for a bit more variety.

Catriona said...

So, what was Uncle Paul's hot topic for this year then?! He has a thankless task in this repsect and I don't even him (or Viv) as they address the thorny issues.

catriona said...

oops, typo: for 'even' read 'envy'

Robin said...

Recently I've been reflecting on what a sermon is. Apart from the religious context is there any direct parallel with another form of spoken address? They certainly aren't speeches, sometimes they are presentations but if they follow a series they're more like lectures but without structured teaching objectives. Sometimes they're motivational/inspirational talks but they're not one-offs so it seems they start to wash over people.

The other Sunday, Brian pointed out that some people in the congregation might have heard over 4000 sermons in their life to date. Do we see this reflected in people's lives compared to 2000 hours spent on something else?

Just putting some thoughts out there to stimulate conversation - what do you think?

David K said...

Many years ago there was a series of letters in The Times on the efficacy of the sermon. The gist of the conversation, which went on for many days, was summarised by someone who wrote that he had heard thousands of sermons over his lifetime but could remember no more than a handful, thus proving that most had been of no benefit.

This triggered a letter from another who wrote something like this “Over my long life, I have eaten many thousands of meals. Looking back I can remember only a handful. But I do know this. Each meal was lovingly and carefully prepared from the best available ingredients. Each meal was designed to provide the nutrition I needed for that day. Each meal was shared with people I loved whose company enriched me. Each meal contributed to my well-being and at the time gave me both nourishment and enjoyment. Without those meals, I would be the man I am today!” There was no further correspondence.

I don’t have a reference for this story, so if anyone can add that detail, I’d appreciate it, not least because I fear I haven’t done justice to the beauty of that final letter.

David K