Boring sermons: we don’t know why it matters

Posted: January 26, 2013 by deadfliesmike in General

Why are we bad at evangelism?
Why don’t people invite other people to church?
To my mind, there is one massive reason (at least in my church context). The sermons at our churches consistently suck. As I visit Anglican churches around the traps, most of the preaching has been terrible. And it takes up most of the service.
It is not that the preaching is unfaithful (sometimes it is though), it is that the preachers don’t seem to be ale to communicate why this passage MATTERS. (other than, it matters because my interpretation is correct and these other people are wrong).
We get long explanations and commentary on a passage, but little communication of why it is important
Now, don’t get me wrong, these preachers try to do some application, but it is so rarely from close attention to the text. Application generally comes from skipping to my favourite theological hobby horse (for most it is the cross, for me it is the resurrection).
Over and over again preachers fail to pay attention to the logic and language and conceptuality of the scripture in front of them (and us) as they attempt to apply.

I have a hunch that this is because the preachers aren’t asking themselves “Why was this portion written?” “Why did the writer need to say this?” “Why might we need to hear it?” “What part of our world and lives need to hear this word?”. Or if they are asking the question, the answer is “So that we would have….doctrine”
I used to think that this was just poor communication, but I’m starting to think, as i listen to these sermons, that the preacher actually doesn’t know why the passage matters. He hasn’t done enough work on this passage to really understand it’s importance.
It seems the passage isn’t really sinking into the bones of the preacher, isn’t becoming the glasses through which he sees the world anew.

You don’t have to think of church as primarily the Sunday meeting. You don’t have to think of the sermon as the centre of the service. But lets admit it. In Sydney Anglican churches, this is the case. So you would think that we would wise up and actually learn to preach.

One of the best experiences I had was a minister ripping apart a sermon of mine
“You have to tell these people why they should care, why they should listen. ‘because it is in the Bible’ is not a good enough reason. ”

Most preaching I have heard in Sydney assumes you want to listen because you want information about the Bible. A few preachers have been able to consistently show why it is important to listen to this scripture today.
Yet we tell a story about ourselves that we are super preachers.

  1. Jonathan says:

    As one of those Sydney Anglican preachers, I find your comments deeply offensive.

    And also true.

  2. Ben Hudson says:


  3. Jonathan says:

    Most gripping communicating I heard in 2012 was at Hillsong Alexandria.

    But it was hardly Christian at all…


  4. Mike Wells says:

    It’s not just a matter of gripping communication. Probably some of the best preaching I’ve heard was from people who didn’t have a great deal of ‘style’ (in fact some of the top ones were from a layman with a totally monotone voice). It’s that the good preachers know and explore how these words change everything. The good preachers cling to these words (not trampolining off to what they already ‘know to be true’) like life depended on it. The good preachers seem to recognise that they have nothing very valuable to say, and so say what the text says.
    The overall message I get from plenty of Sydney preaching is ‘here is the Bible, it is a bit boring. Here is pious evangelicalism, base your life on this.

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