I think I’m suffering from a case of sermon exhaustion. Either that or I’m simply not fed that way anymore. After 30+ years of accumulated a lot of head knowledge, I’m wondering if sermons are the best way to transform lives. Too many folks leave their weekly gathering questioning “what you get out of a sermon?” which I actually shouldn’t complain too much about since just as many times the sermons are forgotten once folks are in the parking lot yelling at the jerks who just cut them off.

It’s not like pastors slough this off as an insignificant part of their job. For some it’s a point of pride as great teachers want to be heard. But sometimes church becomes a sermon show and we shop around for the best speakers, reducing the pastor’s role to ear tickler and there’s more to pastoring than giving a sermon. Not to mention the fact that it can also lead to pastor worship, or congregational pride, a sort of intellectual idolatry. The kind of church body this can form is one of a whole lot of head puffery and too little praxis, or to quote my friend, Rob Pallikan, “It’s like going to college and never actually getting a job.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve put in my time. I started thinking back trying to add up the number of sermons I’ve listened to over the years. I’m just going back to the age where I was cognizant of church for my own self:

Fourth and fifth grade – 104 (Sunday mornings only)

Junior high and high school – 936 (Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and a midweek service)

College years (before I dropped out of church) – 624 (Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and a midweek service)

1996-2000 – 1040 two Sunday mornings services, a Sunday night, and a midweek.

2001 – 2004 – 416 a Sunday morning and a mid-week service

2005 – present – 260 a Sunday morning gathering

This is all “approximate”. It doesn’t count the occasional absence or conferences I attended. It doesn’t include class work or any classes I took either. And I’ve been blessed with great teachers over the years. But sermons simply aren’t a big part of the worship experience for me anymore. Spiritual formation is important. Walking in community is important. Developing a rhythm of life is important. How they may express themselves might not always look like a traditional service.

My friend, Aaron Story, said “measure a believer by how worn their knees from praying, how dirty their hands from serving, how marked their Bibles from studying, and how empty their wallet from giving.” Serving, doing, is the only thing that makes sense of my faith. That being said, discipleship and life transformation are tied up in relationship. People who can speak truth into your life. This is just where I’m at now. Often times, sermons are reminders and reminders are good. And at any rate, God uses all of these things. Truth be told, I’m still stuck at Jesus’ boiling down things to “Love God and love each other” and seem to be spending my lifetime trying to figure that out and how to practice it better.