The typical Sunday morning lecture time wasn’t working as well as it might. So, Pastor Rick Bundschuh set out to try some different approaches to engage his congregation, ignite their faith, and extend his messages well beyond the Sunday morning hour.
Rick knew he’d be bucking centuries of methodological tradition–and challenging the self-identity of many preachers and teachers. “We pastors tell ourselves that our congregations will starve spiritually if we don’t unload the whole dump truck of ideas we’ve gathered,” he writes in his new book Moving Messages: Ideas That Will Revolutionize the Sunday Experience.” And since most people sit passively, sometimes nodding their heads, we assume that this big info dump is working out just fine.
“But frankly, we’re kidding ourselves,” he continues. “Not only is culture moving us all toward shorter attention spans, God’s design for how people learn works against the 30-minute monologue. The Sunday morning sermon is by and large an antique, malfunctioning mode of communication.”
Oh oh. He poked the sacred cow. Even before reading Bundschuh’s book, the status quo jumped onto social media to damn his efforts to be more effective. “Gross!” “Willy-nilly!” “Non-sensical!” Some suggested that he is defying the protocols of communication established by Jesus Christ himself.
Bundschuh takes issue with that. He writes: “Today, religious and secular experts recognize Jesus as a master communicator, yet the methods used in virtually every church on Sunday mornings bear little resemblance to his way of teaching. Jesus rarely taught by delivering long monologues.
“The Apostle Paul, having been schooled by the Pharisees, might have put people to sleep with his teaching, but Jesus, through his winsome and clever methods of communicating, never did.”
What are the Jesus-style communication methods that Bundschuh advocates? He says: “Jesus taught through interaction, dialogue, conversations with individuals and groups. He asked a lot of questions–the kind of sticky questions that get people thinking and talking.”
Bundschuh now uses such participative methods in his weekly messages. His book includes revealing–and sometimes funny–stories of introducing these practices in his teaching. He tells how he uses peer-to-peer interaction using thought-provoking questions, interactive use of objects, and incorporating members’ own stories into the message using what he calls the Red Chair.
Bundschuh demonstrates that his goal is not to uphold and defend a millennium of preaching methodology. Rather, his goal is to help his people explore and grasp God’s Word, remember it, and incorporate it into their everyday lives. And he’s willing to take some risks to become more effective.
What do you think? When it comes to communicating God’s messages today, is it best to stick with the status quo of the 30-minute monologue? Or is it time to take a new look at how Jesus communicated his truths?
As a pastor, this is my dream. To have an interactive dialogue around the scriptures where we discern as a community what the Spirit is saying and where Jesus is leading us. I’m excited not only to explore this myself but to see the changes that come with a shift in our methodology. If our goal is making disciples (and it is), then the Sunday morning lecture must go, replaced by forms that actually engage people and open the door to their participation.
Wow! That’s amazing. I just wrote a book about the same thing –moving beyond sermons and into Spirit-led sharing and participation. Can’t wait to explore Rick’s book. My book is called “Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible–Ekklesia” and is available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Church-Lost-Bible-Ekklesia/dp/1518744567/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid&sr‘
Somehow I don’t think Jesus’s methods would work in the public today. Even looking at say outside a grocery store, which is most likely the best place to be able to talk to the largest amount of people. We are all in a rush. Such religious conversations are awkward… not giving them but being on the receiving end. The people who are completely unchurched will blow a sidewalk preacher like what Jesus was doing off even faster than someone who does go to church. In Jesus day in Israel, everyone was religious. After walking a mile or three to the market, sitting, resting and listening to someone spew a religious message is going to pass the time. Now days, no. We zoom here and zoom there and zoom back home.
One of the reasons we gather together as a believer is to celebrate corporately the one who lives in us. I don’t think this means at a grocery store parking lot, but I wouldn’t necessarily rule it out either. The scripture says “if an unbeliever should come in among us”…. Which reveals in context a type of separation to a degree in locale, not necessarily hidden but not out in the world in a way where intrusion is the rule but more of an exception, nonetheless welcome.
The faster the sermon in its current form dies the better.
I just thought of a sermon. “Always Jesus: Speak Him, live Him…. It will change you…It will change Knoxville…It will change the world. Now go do it together.”
There you go. That would leave 29 minutes and 50 seconds for people to:
· think what they will do while eating at Arby’s and Poncho’s;
· approach the speaker or elders to discuss what this look like if one doesn’t know;
· talk with one another about how they can live Christ together; etc…
I think if all Jesus did for 3 years was go around regurgitation the Sermon on the Mount, as great as this sermon is, His life and crucifixion would have barely made a blip on the radar of history. He not only invested his life in living compassionately and intimately among small groups of people before his death, but did after His resurrection as well. Somehow, we die to ourselves, are raised in new life, then pay clergy to preach Christ crucified and give us knowledge we can acquire on our own.
When I look at Christ alone, much of everything church has become, invests in, and does seems foolish or irrelevant.
But I have been called insane and radical on more than one occasion.
PS. A group of college kids have decided to meet at IHOP instead of in the catacombs of the WCC basement this Sunday. You have influenced me in such a way I can only influence others instead of keeping what I learn from you to myself. You might as well have pulled the pin on a grenade and tossed it in the sanctuary. And I will follow you into a fire to save someone… which apparently, is a daily occurrence when you agitate the status quo. I have a dream…. A generation that can tell you the life of Christ, show you their life in Christ, and have never heard the word “church.” Imagine!!
The shrinking attention spans have made lengthy monologues culturally obsolete. This is what’s underneath the eighteen-minute time limit on TED talks. TED has figured out this is the upward limit on what a modern audience can tolerate without getting bored.
Yes, but TED doesn’t just have one 18 minute talk, it has many in a row. People are able to concentrate for long periods when they’re engaged. Long live the traditional sermon
That would be hard to support from how TED is structured and this is what the curator of TED had to say on the matter to 60 minutes:
Charlie Rose: Why 18 minutes?
Chris Anderson: It’s a natural human attention span. It’s an extended coffee break. You can listen to something serious that long without getting bored or exhausted.
Steve, I’m not sure you are understanding TED talks correctly, so let me give you an example. The first full day of TED 2015 started at 8:45 and there were five speakers. There was a short break, then five more speakers. Then there was a lunch break, followed by six speakers. After a short break, there were five more speakers. So that’s a total of 21 speakers for a total of 6 1/2 hours of speaking! Then they did it again the next day! So the whole “shrinking attention spans” and “modern audiences” is a cop out for pastors who are shirking their responsibility to work really hard preparing to preach from God’s word. If TED can keep peoples’ attention for two days, a pastor should be able to keep the congregation’s attention for 30-45 minutes with faithful exposition of Scripture in the power of the Spirit.
So why are the talks explicitly structured at 18 minutes? And not for 30-45?
I can see where simply talking and teaching as some do it turning people off.
We have very few preachers anymore. Those loud, dynamic hollering preachers that people came to hear and were converted. People should not be allowed to feel comfortable in their sin.
A lot of ministers do not want there people to feel uncomfortable about the life they are living. They are afraid that they will leave. Jesus wasn’t afraid that the crowds would leave. He preached the TRUTH, not a truth. Jesus even asked His disciples if they turn away also?
If you follow Jesus’ ministry, it was done most outside of the temple and sanctuaries. Jesus would teach on the questions people ask.
Most ministers do not like dialogue, because they are afraid, that some of there teachings may be question. It is sorta like “What I says go.” When I was a Sunday School teacher I liked dialogue between the students. I encouraged it. I know sometime things can get carried away. But the learning is worth the risk.
The monologic is a vestige from Northern Eurpoean lecture halls and universites passed on to churches in the middle ages. While it may have served its purpose to educate the masses, the 21st Century and the internet serve as vehicles driving the already educated masses. The task of the preacher today is to frame the issues, raise the questions, and lead people toward reflection rather than telling them what to think. The best preachers today craft their sermons but inspire the assembled to deliver kaleidescopic , polymorphic messages. In this way, all are drawn into the process of preaching. If they are still nodding, know that they are nodding off!
We never have a 30 minute message. The 1 hour message our pastor delivers seems way to short for everyone. I have never had Bible taught in a purely expository method before, verse by verse, just amazing! We may get through 3 verses on a Sunday.
Having discussions may be fine for a small group. But the pure study of Gods word, led by a man called by God to be a pastor, protects the flock from apostasy creeping into the church by those not steeped in the Word.
People are looking for their ears to be tickled with what they want to hear. They love health, wealth and happy. But the Bible includes sin, Satan and sorrow, which left to many is never mentioned.
Expository preaching does not allow skipping over difficult passages as does topical studies where a preacher can pick, choose and skip around.
Preach the whole Bible. Let God do His work on the hearts and in the lives of the flock.
I attend Sugar Land Bible Church in Sugar Land, Texas.
Sent from my iPhone with blessings for your day!
Exposition takes longer than lazy preachers wish to put into their study and delivery time. I think this is what we are seeing on this blog……
I did expository preaching for 38 years (Martyn Lloyd-Jones style), and yes it was fruitful to an extent. But in terms of effort, hard work and anointing, the results should have been far greater. I essentially agree with Thom’s article – we do some of it in house church format with much better effect. Here’s the thing: information doesn’t change people – witness how many medical doctors smoke!
As long as you call it a lecture, monologue or dumping a load of information, then you are correct that it must die. But you are also building a straw man argument and being dishonest. Before you say preaching has died, maybe you could devote a couple of blogs to interviewing men who preach 45 minutes or more on a regular basis while making disciples in growing churches. If you are truly interested in helping pastors communicate more effectively, give men like Tim Keller, John Piper or Mark Dever a place on your blog to explain what they believe the bible teaches about preaching that is Spirit-led and expository, tethered to the authority of Scripture. Devote a post to Jonathan Edwards’ definition and goal of preaching. Before you blow off the apostle Paul as an ineffective communicator just because someone fell asleep during an all night sermon, study what he actually said about preaching. (Remember, after he raised Eutychus he went on to preach till daylight.)
You would be surprised at how many times a day people exercise an attention span of more than 30 minutes. Frankly, I find it rather insulting that you or any of the commenters here would stand in front of a congregation and tell them, “Since you can’t pay attention for 30 minutes, turn to the person next to you….” Maybe you could serve the church by helping congregations learn how to listen instead of just dismissing them as incapable of doing so.
I have been hearing from recent graduates of major seminaries say that they have dumped what they learned, in reference to exposition, and have taken up topical preaching for much of the same reasons cited in the article. This is pure laziness and a lack of understanding of who our God is and how Holy Spirit moves among people. May we always treat the Word of God as the Two Edged Sword that it is and God will bless…..
I can’t tell you how many times (hundreds, at least) when had to endure a pastor get up to do his sermon thing, whether he had anything to say or not. I still yearn for the day when I hear a guy get up and say “I had something prepared, but the Spirit is so strong in here today that I would mess things up by talking.”
Hey Dean, all the men you have quoted, have been men of extraordinary giftedness with extraordinary training and resources etc, one of them having preached more than two centuries ago. At least one of the preachers named has very limited influence these days. What about the millions of churches that don’t have those resources such as in China, India, Africa, etc? In any case, the larger the church, the less chance of biblical discipleship taking place after the manner of Jesus and the apostles.
First of all, I’m not sure which one of these men is no longer influential. They are all still alive and preaching well. Nor am I sure why it matters how long ago Edwards lived. His thoughts on preaching are still relevant today. I don’t think any of them would chalk it all up to resources and training. Sure, each of them is gifted and each of them has written books on preaching. But any preacher could adopt their attitude towards preaching and borrow from their methodology. But I don’t think their giftedness is any more extraordinary than any other man whom God has called to preach His word. They would chalk it up more to truly being expository in their method and passionate about what they do, which is available to anyone on the planet with a bible. Your last statement is a generalization that may or may not be true and I’m not sure what it has to do with my point.
Dean, you wrote about these great men doing expository preaching ‘while making disciples’ in growing churches … By God’s grace I have served for 38 years in churches large and small, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (the prince of expository preachers) was my hero and model, and unless you really understand disciple-making after the manner of JESUS and the apostles (see the Gospels especially) it is imho virtually impossible to do both biblically and effectively.
I have read Jonathan Edwards et al – truth is timeless, but context cannot be ignored.
For the sake of Christian charity, I refrained from naming names.
20 minutes. Presbyterian sermons are supposed to be 20 minutes, Episcopalians 10 minutes. My idea of a good sermon is “stand up, say what you have to say, shut up and sit down.” I don’t care if that takes 5 minutes or 30 minutes, if it is engaging and informative.
In a recent meeting, we were discussion adult education, and I noted that some churches have a time after worship to discuss the sermon. The pastor immediately got defensive and said something like it would be giving people time to bash the sermon. He even brought it up in the sermon the following Sunday. Of course, that is not at all what I meant–a time to discuss the texts and ask questions of the preacher can deepen one’s understanding of both scripture and the person preaching–but this exchange does give insight into why we don’t get better sermons.
I agree. I give the youth sermon each Sunday, lasts around 3 minutes, and many in the congregation tell me they learn a lot and enjoy it too. I would like to see more pastors come out from behind the pulpit and really talk to the congregation, letting them participate too. Just LOVE this website.
I feel that it is perhaps a case of “horses for courses”. Churches come in many different sizes and locations. I feel the problem is that preachers we are turning out today seem to think that their primary role in their churches is only to preach a 45 min sermon. Some may be able to do this and still keep the people awake and interested, but sadly not so many. I would like to suggest that the pastor should be trying to “communicate” with his people and encourage them to do their own bible study and have their own times of family devotions and let the real teacher the Holy Spirit do the teaching. I have never found Him boring. Dare I say it, I believe in the old fashioned way of scripture memorisation. I memorised both Hebrews and Romans before I was married. You would be surprised how many messages the Holy Spirit has preached to me from these books over the years and how many times I have heard preachers go “wrong” in their messages. There is no substitute for us fallen people that to know God’s word. Then the real teacher can talk to us 24/7.
I totally agree. I have been in full time para church ministry with students and athletes for 30 years. Boredom enters within 15 minutes unless your message is filled with stories, involvement and passion. We of course pepper the messages with God’s truth and Word. When I bring up these types of methods with old school teachers they say I don’t know what I am talking about because some past great teacher validated their methods 50 years ago.
When was the last time you heard a preacher preach sound doctrine. Could these verses be fulfilling in our sanctuaries?
1 Timothy 1:9-11 King James Version (KJV)
9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
2 Timothy 4:2-4King James Version (KJV)
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Titus 1:7-11 King James Version (KJV)
7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:
11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.
Titus 2King James Version (KJV)
2 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:
2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.
7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,
8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
9 Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;
10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
You have nailed it!!!
I spent 19 years working with youth as a committed youth pastor. 6 years ago my wife and I planted a house to house church so we could retain many of these “kids” once they graduated from high school. From youth or to adults, I can go 10 minutes or 1 1/2 hours and they all are engaged. Why? Because Parkland House was never preaching with the intent of others only listening. Whenever the audience was given permission to ask questions or fill in the blanks openly, they became a part of the message and they became invested in it as well.
They participated, therefore they stayed, enjoyed, and learned. Most youth group attendees leave church after high school never to return. PEW and Barna easily confirms it. Why? They do not like the sit and learn format of church. Your mega church may boast thousands in the seats every Sunday, but how many more have left? The statistics, in spite of your roll states that most leave! Bragging rights go to the church that can say that their preaching is converting new believers in record numbers. Most of the kids we get to come to our house to house church end up staying. And the ones that did leave… it usually was because one of our “old timers” got too long winded and preached when they should have been answering questions.
Hmmm. Who should I send this to?
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30 minute monologue? In the 16 years I’very been preaching, not one of the congregations I’ve served would have tolerated never mind sat through a 30 minute anything. The service did run an hour and heaven forbid it run much beyond that?
I appreciate the suggestions for something new however.
The centrality of the word or truth of God is not fulfilled by the centrality of the sermon or preacher (or ‘the pulpit’). Believers with the gift of teaching contribute in important ways. But the church is the spiritual body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27ff). The Spirit and truth of God should be honored, demonstrated and lived out in a variety of ways by everyone in word and deed.
Functioning as a body means active participation by EVERY member of the body, not only a few, in a way that is edifying to the whole body (Eph. 4:29; 1 Cor. 14:26). Bodily health is best promoted and achieved by bodily exercise involving the WHOLE body at the time when the church is gathered together in one place as a church to break bread and practice MUTUAL edification (Acts 20:7ff; Rom. 15:14; 1 Cor. 5:4; 11:18, 20, 33; 14:26; Eph. 4:11-16; Heb. 10:24-25).
Wise church leaders mentor, model and moderate this; they do not supplant it with their own ‘lauding’ or ‘lording’ (Rom. 12:3; 1 Pet. 5:2-3; cf. Prov. 10:19; 17:27; Eccl. 5:3 James 1:19; 3:2) or with the most current and crowd-pleasing stagecraft.
Some complementary thoughts on gathering as a church in this article “Who Ordered The Change?”: https://www.dropbox.com/s/olirhovkzzp2dmr/Who%20Ordered%20the%20Change%20-%20edited%2012-11-15.pdf?dl=0
Time for diversifying the Sunday morning experience for sure.
Some of this and some of that as a gentler manner in transition to his perception
Rick T commented on Facebook: “The sooner we have a funeral for “one way sermons” in their current form, the better. Jesus loved to be in two way conversations. There’s a great lesson there for 2016 communication style.”
Let me see if I am summarizing this correctly:
– IF you can’t preach well enough to hold people’s attention for 30 minutes and you do not want to do the hard work of learning to preach better…
– IF you believe people have a short attention span but you don’t want to do the hard work of teaching people how to listen to a sermon…
– IF you are doing a bad job of getting people to join a smaller group where many of the “one another” commands and basic training in discipleship can happen….
– THEN eliminate preaching altogether and try to turn the large group into a sort of small group gathering.
I never thought I would see the day when people would try to use God’s word to justify eliminating the preaching of God’s word in His church. May He have mercy on us.
Here are some complementary thoughts in “Four Essentials For New Testament Churches”: https://www.dropbox.com/s/8yfdu68wgsdiaxq/Four%20Essentials%20for%20NT%20Churches.pdf?dl=0
Nope. Not summarized correctly. The implication of laziness and failure being the reason for doing something different is offensive and arrogant and unbecoming of a servant of the Master.
I love the idea of moving away from lecturing and engaging people creatively. Everyone has different learning styles, so it makes sense to incorporate a variety of teaching methods. I can’t wait to read the book. Thanks for introducing me to it.
Some of the Reasons that pastors cannot hole there congregation attention is:
Reason one: The pastors are feeding there congregation “STALE” bread. They go the computer and get somebody else’s sermon outlines and some even read a sermon from another pastor.
Reason Two: They don’t study. They are more engages in extracurricular activities than studying.. Some have to work secular jobs and God knows that. Some spend more time on a golf course than they do studying.
Acts 6:1-4 King James Version (KJV)
6 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
Reason 3: They are PRAYING and SEEKING God’s will for the church and the sermons they need to prepare. Some spend more time trying to update their education more than PRAYING. Praying requires humility. Most ministers are too proud to kneel> Most churches today promotes pride. Most churches do not have enough room for parishioners to kneel..
Most churches do not worship. They may say they are, but scripturally they are not. Worship means humbling yourself. Check it out. It means bowing. Most churches who are worshipping have there hands lifted up. That’s a sign of Praise or if it’s not that it is sign of surrender. But surrender is not humbling yourself, it is not bowing down.
The Muslims have one right, they know how to worship Mohammed. But we saints of God for the most part refuse to worship properly. We are proud and defiant.
When worship was mention in the Bible, it was humbling and bowing to God. Check it out Do a word study on Worship in KJV used the Strong’s concordance to define the meaning.
Until the Pastors learn how to worship and teach there parishioners the sanctuaries will be filled with anemic Saints and they will continue to go to sleep or walk out or look at watches.
We love to quote the following verse.
2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall HUMBLE themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
What is the first thing you are going to do when you here Jesus call your name: Humble (worship)
How about this one?
James 4:10 HUMBLE (worship) yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall LIFT you up.
To lift someone up, they have gotta be down first.
Learn to truly WORSHIP and the Spirit will return to the sanctuaries.
My sermons are always 30 or more minutes and I have prepared at least 8 hours before delivery. I move around a great deal and most times end up off the platform and do talk directly to individuals. This is for two sermons on Sunday AM and PM; there is another Bible Study on Wed evening. Everything is the same……no one goes to sleep…ever. One more thing, I go around on the street from time to time speaking directly to people with the Gospel Message. No one has run from me yet….yet. The question I ask on the street, “How are you going to get to Heaven?” We MUST BE BOLD in this day and time….Stand Firm!!
Be bold. I like it.. If you preach the Word. Not what some famous personality says. Not what you read out someone else book. The Anointing and the Word will accomplish to where it was sent. Where there is no anointing there is no life.
Scotty, being Bold is all that I know and have done for more than 45 years….in the pulpit and on the street…..and God has blessed; always.
“Building Up the Body: One Man or One Another?” was one of many articles and studies that led me 30+ years ago to search the Scriptures and rethink my understanding of “ministry” in the local church. Elders are to be overseers of what others do, not overdoers trying to do it all themselves. As spiritual shepherds (or pastors) they do teach and instruct, but they do so as spiritual coaches, godly fathers and grandfathers, faithful examples, qualified mentors and devoted saints discipling others to actively participate in mutual ministry when the body of Christ is gathered as a church (or ekklesia: a townhall-like assembly) called together as God’s household to conduct ‘family business’ involving the care and edification, both spiritually and materially, of God’s people. Please read the following article and see if it sheds light on the Scriptures related to this topic.
Sound doctrine should be taught through preaching. That is Scriptural. One-on-one and small group discussions can be extensions that help put the rubber on the road. To say people have short attention spans is wrong. These same people can sit through an hour of college lecture taking notes, or sit at their computers analyzing data. The problem is that people are in spiritual comas. Or perhaps the heat in the church is too high. Good, expository preaching is so rare nowadays. Pastors give homilies on how to be better people, stuff we already know we should be doing, so of course it’s boring.
I remember long ago being told that you can’t talk at people longer than their butts can stay comfortable in the seats – about 10-15 minutes. After that they listen to their butts, not your words. Likewise, engaging people is far more effective. Jesus was a story teller and told many stories to convey his message. He used stories that allowed people to put themselves in the story. When people can do that, they get it. Lecturing people is focused on information transfer. engaging people in various ways is focused on people. There’s a big difference. I appreciate that Pastor Bundschuh is trying something different.
Jesus sat and asked questions. It was more like a workshop. I support Jesus context and content of preaching. Let’s do it.
Just completed a 7 month role as “Sunday Preacher” for a congregation as they searched for a new Pastor. I confess, I gave a bunch of 30 minutes sermons. But I also ventured into the 30 minutes of “content” divided into 3, 4, sometimes 5 segments. After initial wide=eyed response, even the older folks began to understand how that format helped them better experience the word of God in the context of worship and response.
Sing. Scripture. “Sermon” … Gifts. Scripture. Video. Sing. “Sermon” …
Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God and what it was like. He suggested that for one to enter the Kingdom of God , following him would get you there. When Jesus taught, he used short simple sentences. Note… Jesus is not talking about the “american evangelical version of heaven” when he is talking about the Kingdom of God. Two or three hour long sermons produce nothing more than a Pharisee attitude in the people who support that style of preaching. Then they can walk away and gloat about how “we sure were in the word this morning” or ” the pastor spoke two and half hours this morning but I feel he just touched the tip of the iceberg, he should have went another hour and half”. Saying that they enjoy enduring what is usually just a bunch of meaningless talk about nothing, is a way to convince themselves that they are holy and in God’s good books. Picking up the cross and following Jesus is a whole different matter.
I appreciate the discussion that my book has spurred on this blog. From the start I figured that these ideas might be well received by some and seen as horrific by others. Just so you know, I am in constant experimentation mode on Sunday morning but so far it seems that I am stumbling down the right track…if the engagement, retention and illumination I’ve been able to measure is correct. But before you pass judgement too severely, please read the book and then you can decide if it is worthy only of kindling for the fireplace or if it may be something that helps us better honor our Lord as we communicate His Word.
The monologic sermon can work, but it needs to be engaging and interesting. I have heard 45-minute sermons that went by in no time, and I have heard 13 minute sermons that should have stopped at minute #5. I think some pastors (in mainline churches) live in a traditional bubble and don’t recognize that sermons aren’t just checking off one box in the liturgical program, but these days they need to be interesting and engaging. Where I attend, sermons never address questions like “What is the gospel and why is it important?”, or “Who is Jesus and why should you care?” More likely it is either a moralistic harangue, or recollections of the civil rights glory days, etc. Oh by the way we have not had a new member in more than a year. We have great music though.
Pastors need to understand the principles of motivational speaking. That’s how the guy in the Lakewood church grew a giant church. It’s all example stories with a positive point. He never says anything negative. Positive motivational speaking goes a long ways. Sorry I don’t remember names but the guy from Lakewood is more a motivational speaker than a pastor. With such a large congregation, you don’t have time to pastor. Just focus on positive motivational messages. My guess is he has staff writers digging up content for him.
You are probably right about the staff looking up the material.
Here is the Holy Spirit’s motivational power-point.
2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
Use this for a sermon topic next Sunday.
SATAN HATES HOLINESS
[…] Thom Schultz shared a story about pastor Rick Bundschun in, “The End of Sermon Time as We Know It.” […]
Besides some people are tired of the same old thing week after week, find they don’t need church to have faith in and have a relationship with God, some leave because they don’t see God as real.
I’m fortunately one who throughout life have been literally walking in the shoes of many different types of people… pew warmer, gun-hoe server of God in ministry, burned out and became a done continuing my relationship with God. Now looking at the whole religion thing, all of them, with the eyes of an atheist. I look at the beliefs of the church and see their view of God and none sensual.
With so many religions, why do they exist or why were they invented? Does humanity need religion. This is a long deep topic with many facets. Just one statement. Even atheists, who are not actively personally angry against religion can logically see that humanity needs religion. Even though an atheist will not participate in anyone’s religion for lack of belief in any god, it keeps humanity from falling into chaos. The problem is opposing religions create a lot of problems in the world. Governments understand how religion helps to keep the peace, that people will act better when believing there is a god watching them all the time who will judge their deeds and punish for bad and reward for good. Religion as seen has been a tool for some to control people and for personal gain. Religious god believing people are more apt to follow laws.
Both Islam and Christianity have gods that nobody ever sees and never shows themselves or says boo to anyone since the old testament. Both religions are all about faith. Obviously man cannot destroy what cannot be see, touched or heard. You can’t destroy the imagination.
I read that all religions are dropping in numbers, not just Christianity. It’s hard to continue to give time of day to an absent god. Yea we Christians have the Holy Spirit, a part of God that requires faith who as God the Father is incapable to have a relationship with us no a human level.
Just to give a little insight from an atheist perspective as why God is just something made up to help leaders keep the peace in places where they are not able.
Ryan, I believe faith in God is more than a ‘control tool’ used by political leaders. Most people ponder the idea of God in their youth quite naturally. Faith related to the spiritual realm is as natural and necessary as breathing air in the physical realm, even though people often behave dysfunctionally in both realms.
I have always wondered how people who believe that humans arose from meaningless, purposeless, impersonal non-intelligence can expect to have a meaningful, purposeful, personal and intelligent conversation about human origins or anything else. Even for atheists in denial of their Creator, they must live as if they are responsible creatures connected to moral absolutes and spiritual realities as much as they must live consistent with their earthly environment and the laws of physics.
When your a child, you believed in Santa Clause in a slay with flying reindeer who lives in the north pole. I did for a time and believed in ghosts and spirits even longer. As an adult now, I could walk through a cemetery alone, fearless because my lack of belief in ghosts and wandering human or what ever spirits.
God is somewhat like a man who bore children to be tossed off to foster parents to raise. He’s supposedly around but never comes to visit. He leaves his children a letter to read when they are old enough but doesn’t have the decency to even come around to spend time with them. The children write letters to their natural absent father but he never writes back. All they have is that one letter. In the process of time, who do you think the children will call their father… the foster parent who is with them day and night, raising them, spending time playing and teaching them or the one who left them with just a letter who won’t even show up to give them the time of day?
A sermon is like this foster parent telling you all about your natural father week after week, the one who never talks back when you pray or bothers to ever make his present known. All you have is this old book. Who is really your dad or father?
As far as the catholic church who may say, “God is your Father and the church is your mother.” It’s the same problem. You have the absent father who is never around. God is a very poor example of a father. One-way relationships are hard to maintain.
Foster children desire their real parent when their relationship with their foster parents is bad. So you have the dones. But when a done leaves to search out their natural Father, He’s off no where to be found… in the human physical sense. There is no where to go.
Ryan, here are some things to consider.
• Because children (as well as older people) believe in some false things does not mean that all things they believe in are false.
• There is a big difference between examining mere ideas or myths that one is told (such as Santa) and pondering the wonders of nature on both the micro and macro level (that are physically present and can be experienced firsthand) and asking “Where did all of this come from? . . . Where did I come from? . . . Who or what kind of Being could make such things that reflect amazing laws, order, power, creativity, design, abundance, reproduction and personal engagement that go infinitely beyond anything people or animals can make?”
• Where should we get our ideas from about God as a father? From 21st-century western culture? Eastern culture? Past cultures? What I can imagine that means the most to me individually?
The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 8:6 “yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” [Compare John 1:3: “All things were made through him” – that is, “the Word” or Jesus – “and without him was not any thing made that was made.”]
Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 8 what Jesus said of himself: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
In John 14:8, Phillip says to Jesus, ““Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”
Here is Jesus’ reply in verses 9-11: ““Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.”
To know God as the Father, we must look to His Son, Jesus Christ, who is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). He is “the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Scripture directs us to fix our gaze upon and learn from Jesus (Matthew 11:28; Colossians 3:1-4; Hebrews 12:2).
There is an absentee aspect to Christianity. Jesus likened God to a man who “planted a vineyard and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey for a long time” (Luke 20:9; cf. Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 1:8). There is also a patient, long-suffering, loving and sacrificial element to Christianity. Jesus goes on to say how the master of the vineyard – after sending three servants to receive some of the harvest, who were beaten and cast out – sent his Son who was rejected and killed. This stood as a parable and witness against Israel who rejected Jesus as the Messiah (vv. 10-19).
All of this is connected. Do you want to know God as the Father? Then look to, believe in, receive and follow His Son. Following the Son means keeping his commandments and living in a way that pleases God the Father – even while he is away – so that when Jesus returns to separate the sheep from the goats, your works will prove you are a true follower of Him (Matthew 25:31-46; cf. John 8:31-32; 14:21, 23-24; 15:8; 2 John 1:9). Jesus promises His Spirit will be present with His followers to help them obey Him and be fruitful (John 14:16, 18; Romans 8:26; Galatians 5:22-23 ) until “he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38; cf. Matthew 16:27; Luke 9:26; 1 Thessalonians 3:13).
As a professional communicator, I understand the ways we communicate change as technology evolves. My great fear regarding how we share the Word and worship on Sunday mornings is already coming true. Slick technology has created an atmosphere of entertainment rather than heartfelt worship. We’re no longer satisfied to simply sit and absorb a pastor’s teaching and meditate on the Word. Now many leave a service feeling dissatisfied if it didn’t leave them feeling entertained. I’ve been to services that were multi-media spectacles that combined elements of a Broadway production, a rock concert and a comedy show into a “worship” service. While these productions are quite entertaining, they are shallow and offer little for spiritual growth. So, in short, we can’t completely abandon old-fashioned teaching for the latest flashy fad. Technology and new teaching styles should be used to enhance a sermon, not entertain.
ken, let me guess you are white middle age+ and of northern european extraction (all of which i am, too!)….since we learned all this stuff, and since we have learned how to do all this stuff, we have come to understand that people learn in many ways, not in one and only one way….when we can put our brains around the truth that youngsters need to know 400x’s more stuff than we needed to know when we were youngsters, we will come to understand why they’re leaving in droves—God’s Word is kaleidoscopic and polymorphic—if our message isn’t, gone!
I am all for changing up the 12-35 minute sermon in churches. As a pastor in an aging congregation, it would mean overcoming the “we’ve always done it this way” thinking that dominates so many churches in the Northeast.
I consider my work as a preacher as first and foremost a storyteller. This is the story we have chosen as God’s people to participate in, and as such, everyone is part of the story. I consider theological teaching and explication and explanation to be secondary to the storytelling. I would love for others to begin to tell their story of faith and their journey on the Way, and I would be grateful to make room for it in my church.
Eugene H. Peterson, in his translation of the Bible called The Message, presents a very clear paraphrase of first Corinthians 14 that also serves as a very good commentary. If we want to know how church was conducted in the first century and reflect on how it should be conducted today, Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase is a good start.
“So here’s what I want you to do. When you gather for worship, each one of you should be prepared with something that will be useful for all: sing a song, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight. If prayers are offered in another language, two or three is the limit, and then only if someone is present and can interpret what you’re saying. Otherwise, keep it between God and yourself. And no more than two or three speakers at a meeting, with the rest of you listening and taking it to heart. Take your turn, no one person taking over. Then each person gets a chance to say something special from God, and you all can learn from each other. If you choose to speak, you are also responsible for how and when you speak. When we worship the right way, God does not bring us up into confusion he brings us into harmony. This goes for all the churches-no exceptions.”
Our tendency is to over spiritualize the Bible. If we try to see through the obscure, archaic language, we will begin to see the simplicity and beauty of Paul’s writings and how meetings should be conducted. Sort of blows a hole in support of the sermon.
For the life of me I can’t see how this very loose paraphrase of a text about speaking in tongues “blows a hole in support of the sermon”. Would you mind explaining?
No it doesn’t blow a hole in the sermon. You could have 3 sermons by Paul’s writing. It is not just speaking it is Prophecy, which mean giving a spiritual message or preaching. It is not just talking.. Have you ever attended a service, where there was no set speaker to speak.
They started off with singing and then prayed and sung some more there were a couple of messages in tongues with interpretation, and finally someone step to the podium and began to preach and one more stood up and the first one set down and the second one preached. It was like a relay race and no one missed a beat and the power of God was in that building and no one considered them selves a pastor.
What a great service we had.
Sounds to me like the bigger, but certainly not only, problem is people looking to be entertained instead of looking to be challenged and grow. Pastor or parishioner, a heart not turned to God is a heart that is deaf and when you don’t hear you aren’t going to be ministered to.