Saturday, February 25, 2006

what's the point?

last sunday i happened to be listening to the same sermon for the second time. the particulars of why i found myself in such a situation is a peripheral matter. suffice it to say i was not particularly enthused at the prospect of repeating what hadn't been an overly memorable experience already chalked up from the week before.

the reason for my lack of enthusiasm can be found in these other thoughts, similar to mine, which have been voiced following and stemming from the first hearing. it's a chronic issue, and a factor in my uncertainty about whether i should be contemplating a move or some other non-stagnant act to address the problem. previous solutions i have seen from others included leaving/moving, and attending a second church/service for the teaching (while staying at the original church/service for the fellowship).

anyways... part-way through the sermon, i noticed that the guy sitting next to me had pulled out his mobile phone and was playing games on it, while his friend next to him looked on. now from what i know and have seen/observed of this guy, he doesn't strike me as someone who has much interest in listening to sermons to begin with, and possibly comes to church to see his friends, or because of parental pressure/expectation (ok maybe i'm conjecturing and stereotyping too much...). so anyways, i was trying to decide whether i should do anything, like issuing a tap or nudge and motioning that he should put the phone away and pay attention to the sermon. but then the thought struck me: why? what would i be asking him to listen to? should he listen just because it's the polite/culturally normative thing to do? is there any merit in asking someone to listen to something in which i myself struggle to find value? i'm probably venturing into dangerous territory in sounding like i'm decrying the value of a sermon, but the question still begs asking (and the answer(s) well worth pursuing and grasping): what's the point?


  1. It certainly does make inviting your friends to church that bit harder. I have usually felt this conflict because I could not trust what was going to be said in the pulpit. We should be careful to sit above the speaker in judgement, but at the same time we should critically evaluate what is being said also. It's a stranged tension to be in for a congregation.

    When I last visited UNSW & FOCUS Shte1 and I heard a great sermon from 1 Timothy and were able to have a good follow up conversation about it afterwards. We then immediately noticed, along with B&F, that we were unable to do that back here due to the pulpit ministry...

    A situation soon to be remedied with SN & KN joining St Lucia I pray :)

  2. Sad to hear of this ongoing issue. Perhaps someone needs to make this observation/feedback known in a clear, yet humble way to someone who could affect things... it seems like many (most?) feel this way... would be sad if some (many?) left without anyone making this point -clear- to those who are in position who perhaps have the responsibilty to do something about it...

  3. i'm sure i'm not the only one who feels *something*, but can't say as to how many are similarly bothered/frustrated as i. and i've probably been out of the loop for too long, but i can't say with much confidence that those in position/with responsibility take a similar view to mine, save possibly one, who i understand is trying/has tried to remedy the situation... but it's no easy thing to change an entrenched mind(set).

    anyways, i've moved. and so far am paying more attention to what's being preached...

  4. I don't know - it must be frustrating listening to the same sermon twice, but instead of being frustrated, can't one make the most of it? I could be mistaken, but can't we choose treat it as a reminder, or as a means of reflection rather than be agitated? I'm sure you've read the same passage in the bible more than once - but doesn't it speak to you differently each time? I'm not in any way advocating that sermons be repeated like a broken record, but I am advocating the possibility that perhaps something good can always come about if we have the right attitude. While I was listening to some sermons on cassette, I found myself pressing the rewind button numerous times, there was so much I wanted to remember and so many points I wanted to sink into my thick head! I guess I'm just trying to suggest that perhaps repetition itself is innoculous. What we do with it is another matter.

  5. hi bobbie, thanks for your comments. let me clarify that i don't have a problem in general with listening to a sermon twice, and have deliberately done so on various occasions. the issue here is not that i had to hear a sermon twice, but that i had to hear this particular sermon twice.

    a good sermon is indeed worth re-hearing. a not-so-good sermon on the other hand... that's what i struggle with. the original post contains links explaining why (i believe) this particular sermon ranks more in the latter category than the former.

    and there's no comparing hearing sermons with reading the bible, for the bible is the inspired word of God (and thus always worth reading over and over and over...), whereas a sermon is human words, hopefully inspired by the word of God - not quite the same league.

    and btw, i think you meant "innocuous" (no 'l') :)