Saturday, November 23, 2019

Preaching - Whose needs are being met?

I enjoyed a short piece on the America Magazine blog entitled, "Preaching and feedback."

As I listen to sermons, the two big questions that ring in my head as I am feeling bored, annoyed, and having to strain to follow the thread of the sermon are:

Why is the preacher telling us this?


Why did the preacher pick this topic to preach on? Is it something of  interest to the preacher or does the preacher, for some reason, think that the congregation needs to hear this?

For the life of me, with many of the sermons I have heard in my lifetime, I have no clues on how to answer these two questions.

It would be nice if preachers maybe met with the pulpit committee and negotiated some themes over the the coming church year. It also would be nice if there were powerful enough sermons that they led to some spirited discussions and feedback on the topic.

I have no experience of this happening in my church except very rarely.

If you would like to read the short essay in America Magazine click here.

Having said all this, I have pretty much stopped going to church.

 Church attendance in all mainline churches in the United States and first world countries is rapidly dropping. Apparently, what churches are offering their communities is no longer relevant enough or compelling enough to motivate attendance.

Apparently, I am not alone in my absence. Football, and shopping seem to be much more popular or perhaps just sleeping in. When you can get 80,000 people in a football stadium and millions more on TV, but you're lucky if you can get 80 people in a church on Sunday, something is seriously amiss with religion in America.

The absence is not about a lack of entertainment, but a lack of meaning. If I am going to make the effort to drive 22 miles on a Sunday morning and sit in a large space for 60 + minutes, it has to be worth the time, effort, and expense. For me and increasing numbers of other people, it is not. People vote with their feet.

So, it is unclear who the preachers think they are talking to, and why they are preaching what they are preaching. The sermons seem unrelated to spiritual struggles of the audience and without relevance they will continue to preach to empty pews. When the church becomes irrelevant to life in society, it loses its function and will die. We are witnessing its slow death and in another twenty years, unless there is a significant revival, most mainline churches, like many species will be extinct.

Who are the Bills playing this week?


  1. You have pointed out something very important. Unitarian Univeralism has no vision or sense of mission. Without it, people wander and their leaders have no sense of direction except popularity and approval of the people who have hired them and support them which is becoming fewer and fewer.

  2. Some churches have adopted a theme based lectionary which is even more chaotic. What is beauty, honesty, etc. These preachers try to achieve some semblance of coherence by gearing their sermons to the aribrarily chosen theme. Who choses the themes and how they are related to nurturing the lives of the people being preached to seems to be left to the "freedom of the pulpit," meaning that the preacher is free to say whatever he or she wants depending on what?

  3. I quit going to church too. Nothing there. I don't know what they're talking about half the time. Country's going to hell in a hand basket and they are talking about imperfection. Really? Going to name and names and get to the bottom of things or just talk in mindless generalities?

  4. It seems that most preachers settle for the 60+ demographic for a couple of reasons: they are the only ones who come to church, and they have the money. Preachers have tried to obtain attention from the 18-34 demographic but that is a lost cause. They are still hungover from their Saturday night partying. Under 18, if they have any kids is a specialty reserved for "youth ministers" more often than not volunteers or underemployed adult ministers who can't find a gig.

    Preachers often haven't figure out who their target audience is and honing in on their intended demographic makes a difference otherwise they wind up losing everybody which seems to be more often the case.


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