I gave y’all a break from my series examining the role of sermons in church life. The lifeless horse may be soon approaching a second death, it remains to be seen after today’s beating.
In 2006 Craig Groeschel‘s LifeChurch, which had been expanding from Oklahoma to include other campuses around southeastern America, launched a different kind of campus: an internet one. Meaning you could log on to watch a church service on a computer.
I think this naturally weirded many people out. Though most churches stick to the format of worship & sermon for church services as religiously as they stick to Jesus an online church seems to violate something*. “Wait – you’re going to church…and there’s no people?” Almost all of us realize that the sermon isn’t the point of the church service – it’s the gathering of the people.
I’ve been to a lot of boring church services. I’ve been to ones where the pastor wasn’t exactly presenting a coherent message, and in fact I walked away utterly confused as to what he was even trying to say. And if I’m going to go to church to hear a sermon, I mightaswell go to one where the sermon is engaging and challenging and well thought out. Why use up my time fighting off sleep and balancing my checkbook in an uncomfortable seat?
And so in this way an internet church makes total sense – I mightaswell tune into an interesting sermon if I’m going to listen to a sermon. But ultimately church is far more about the gathering and community and fellowship of people.
To me, this is the ultimate reason for this series. Sermons are not inherently wrong – they certainly have their time and place. However I do not agree that their place is at front and center of a church gathering.
*I’m not criticizing Life Church as I’m confident there are many circumstances in which an internet church is useful and necessary for someone, and that is blessing someone’s life somewhere.
How can sermons be done to encourage fellowship? What do you think of internet churches? If a sermon isn’t front and center of a church service then what should be?