As a biblical scholar I find it hard to sit through many sermons. I am not referring to those times when someone massacres a text with something masquerading as hermeneutics. That is another topic. What I mean is, as one who works day-in and day-out with the text it is difficult to listen to a message that often has little connection to the week before or what is coming next week. Its hard to approach the Bible like a MTV video (when they still showed videos). Yes, it is all music, but it is not necessarily tied together with any significance? And while it is entertaining I am not sure I really came away with a grasp of what the song was talking about.
Don't get me wrong. I am not suggesting that we do away with sermons completely. I think a well constructed homily on a topic still has a place in the life of the church. They are particularly effective and appropriate at weddings, funerals and other occasions. But I wonder if it is a useful means of communicating every Sunday. Might our time be better spent in the study of a particular text in a the fashion more often associated with Sunday school? Might people be better educated and more knowledgeable of the Bible if they were actually drawn into the text rather than sitting back and watching what sometimes ends up being a performance? And it is the person's performance more often than not that determines if it was a "good message" rather than if we actually learned something.
I wonder how many pastors also feel this way? They believe in the need to educate those who come to them week-in and week-out, but the truth is they are as uninspired by what they preach as the people to whom they are preaching. My own dissatisfaction with this approach means that I rarely accept invitations to preach anymore. I am happy to go and teach a class, but rarely a one-off 30 minute lesson.
Perhaps this is evidence that I am more postmodern than I care to admit. But I wonder if we really are helping people be giving them a prepackaged Bible lesson every week. Are we preparing them for what life will bring their way? Are we teaching them to read and study the Bible for themselves? Or are we merely being the person who hands out a weekly ration of Bible sprinkled with just enough guilt to make them come back for more?