Political Conventions & Church Growth

Someone needs to tell the RNC and DNC that having someone stand up and speak for over an hour to a crowd of people is not an effective way to communicate their message. Someone needs to inform them that our culture just does not learn that way anymore. Someone needs to give them a clue that people just will not sit down and listen to someone speak for more than twenty minutes at a time.

Is that not what the modern day church growth movement tells us? People just will not sit down and listen to a preacher preach for an extended period of time. Twenty minutes is the longest a sermon should last. The preacher should not be standing up behind a podium. He needs to be sitting on a stool. He needs to move around and be flamboyant. He needs to be creative and use a bunch of stage props to get his point across.

Well, how do we explain the strategy of the national political convention speeches we just witnessed over the last two weeks, much less their enormous success. I mean more than 80,000 people listened to Barack Obama stand up and give a speech behind a podium for at least an hour. This week more than 30,000 sat/stood at attention to listen to Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. John McCain speak for over an hour a piece. All three were effective in what most church growth strategists will tell you is an outdated method that needs to be discarded in churches today.

Maybe Paul and the rest of the NT writers knew what they were talking about in regards to the growth of the church. Preach the Word.

Eric Raymond has written an excellent post on this whole issue called "I Thought Preaching Was Outdated." Be sure to read the entire post in context, but here are some great excerpts:

Does this not sound a bit old fashioned to the sophisticated evangelical pastor? After all, we are told by many ‘experts’ today that talking to people in large chunks of time is not effective. Furthermore, it is often said to be arrogant and archaic to stand up behind a podium and have people sit down while you talk.

Think of how out of place it would have looked last night for Governor Sarah Palin to sit on a stool or on a couch to deliver that speech. She didn’t even walk around! She just stood there and talked. And she talked for quite awhile.

The ‘experts’ would have you to believe that Americans (those in or out of church) cannot sit and process information in this format; we have changed, we are a culture that feeds on the narrative. However, if we listen to the political crowd they tell us that the speech is where the candidate actually connects with the American. It seems to me, in looking at what politicians do, that we actually do have the ability to process information over an extended period of time. These conventions become a helpfully instructive social study.

Pastors need to stop trying to be innovators and belly up to be expositors. If guys would just start studying, practicing and teaching the truth their lives would change and so would there congregations. Instead of becoming irrelevant in an attempt to become relevant, pastors would actually be relevant by meeting real needs with real solutions.

I’m tired of hearing pastors complain about preaching when they do not do it in the first place and while the public craves answers to real problems. We have much to say and there are many needs to be met. And at the end of the day the needs will be far better met and God will be far better glorified through exposition rather than imagination.

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