Many of you know that I absolutely repudiate the practice of preaching in churches. John Hobbins has an intriguing quote on the topic over at his blog. Now, I’m sure that the original quote is not about getting rid of preaching. I know that many people feel that preaching has been commissioned by God for the spread of the Gospel. I also know that many people who see that preaching is only a method still feel that it has certain helpful things. I know of at least one person who thinks we should keep it because it’s what people expect when they come to church.
Nevertheless, I’m forced to ask the question: why? Why do we preach? Why is it the center piece of the Sunday morning worship in many Evangelical™ churches? No one has been able to answer these questions to my satisfaction, and so I have concluded that preaching is a waste of time. Why is it a waste? Why should the church do away with the practice?
1. If the goal is to educate people, there are far more effective ways to do so. Even if a lecture format is retained the asking of questions and “classroom discussion” is an absolutely vital portion of educating people in a lecture format. Having someone talk at people for 25-45 minutes does not educate them. It does not teach them. It puts them to sleep. If you are an exceptionally good speaker your jokes or stories will keep them awake, and they may walk out having learned something. The majority of pastors, however, are not exceptionally good.
2. If the goal is worship, then have members of the congregation read scripture as part of the worship of the church. There is no need for a 30 minute exposition.
3. If the goal is to exhort the congregation, or to tie in the Scripture reading for the week with the life of the congregation, do so in 10 or 15 minutes, not 30.
4. This is my own personal preference (of course, so are the above three), but I think that the “message” as we have it has taken the central place of worship away from the Eucharist. As such we have made our worship about learning or doctrine instead of about encountering the living Messiah.
Let me be quick to add that people have certainly learned when a pastor has preached. At times people have certainly been ministered to via preaching. I am not saying that it has not been effective in the past. I’m not even saying that God can’t use preaching to effect a change in someone’s life today. I am saying that preaching, as the center piece of Sunday worship is outdated. It fulfills no purpose, and may in fact hinder our encounter with Jesus through our worship.
I say, and of course this is my blog so I can say whatever I want (read: this is my opinion and I realize I’m in the minority here), that we do away with preaching, or at the least that we minimize the centrality of it at our weekly gatherings. Ultimately this only amount to my thoughts on the matter, and I fully realize many disagree with me.