Editor's note: There are more than 10,000 church podcasts at iTunes. People from our churches have weekly access to the preaching of Andy Stanley, Tim Keller, and Bill Hybels. As preachers, we should take into account the role of podcasts in the lives of our congregants. Will people tune us out because they have access to other preachers? How can podcasts hurt our ministries--or how can they help? And most iportant--how does technology change the function of local churches? We may come to very different answers, but these are questions that should be asked. The following article, from Church in a Circle Ministries, helps us ask the right questions:
I was asked recently if I hated sermons. My answer was “no.” I understand why people may see me as anti-sermon. If you read my blog regularly, you know I advocate moving away from sermon-centric, performance-based churches to multi-voiced, interdependent communities of empowerment.
The truth is, I actually rather like sermons.
A good sermon is a wonderful opportunity to learn. Some people have honed their knowledge base and their communication skills, and can convey complex concepts in a way people can understand, remember and apply. A well-structured lecture with new information can provoke me to think, and change, and grow.
Modern technology means we don’t have to travel long distances to hear great thinkers and gifted communicators—many churches are now podcasting their sermons online each week. Podcasts present a great opportunity to "flip the church" and practice "church in a circle."
I’m hearing more and more of groups of Christians who meet weekly to share a meal and love one another as a community. Instead of attending “regular church,” they listen to a podcast sermon on their own time and discuss it when they gather, going deeper and applying the truths they’ve learned to their lives and neighborhoods.
What these "podrishioners" are getting right is an emphasis on making the most of their time together. Singing and sermons shouldn’t take up so much of our time that we don’t have energy or space to do the "one-anothering" the Bible repeatedly calls us to.
I don’t hate sermons. They play an important role in teaching God’s people information and calling them to a shared vision. I’m excited to see people getting creative with how they share and access sermons and working toward sustainable, empowering ways of doing church in the future.