Social media has flooded our lives. Everyone everywhere is into communications. It’s like a rushing of a mighty wind. Communicators and pastors are struggling with the challenge of utilizing social media technology without losing the personal touch that is important to all relationships. I empathize with all communicators as they seek to embrace the modern methods of connecting with people while trying to retain their own unique contribution with what God has ordained them to say.
Recently I heard someone talk about using twitter and the Internet while preaching in the pulpit so that the people could respond immediately to what was being said. I think most people are seeking relevancy in a contemporary world. To test every means in order to keep abreast of influence on individuals, both in their secret thoughts and corporate expression, is certainly admirable. However, it seems to me that having people’s tweets appear on a screen during the presentation of the sermon would be a distraction.
How do we capture people’s attention and drive home the message? To use the word drive might seem a bit over the top, but it is used often in advertising to cut through the cacophony of distractions in order to capture individual attention regarding the brand of a product or message. Some think that the sermon is a monologue and needs the input of the people as it is being delivered. That thought bothers me just a bit. It seems to me that while we need to seek better means and utilization of today’s technologies, the sermon is not a monologue. It could be seen as a monologue when it is being orated by a person who has forgotten that the words are those that he or she has carefully chosen to deliver to God’s people through and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
As a pastor delivers a message from the Holy Scripture it is being transformed into the living and active Word in the lives of the people who are listening. The Holy Spirit goes in advance to prepare the hearts of the people for their response. When a sermon is delivered, it moves into the battle against principalities and powers and the forces of darkness. It seeks to assist those who are filled with the Spirit of God along with those who are seeking answers from God.
A sermon is a composite of divinely orchestrated ideas, principles, and words melded together by the power of the Holy Spirit and tuned to the waiting hearts of every willing individual.
A sermon remains a monologue only to the pastor who thinks that he/she is singularly engaged in the presentation. A sermon is crafted as an art form, but is delivered as an oracle of substance that the Holy Spirit of God is directing to minister to people and further the gospel message to the world. The people of God are present. The angels are present. The Holy Spirit is present representing the whole council of God and the work of His Son. The pastor and all that are present are engaged in either the giving or receiving of the word for the furtherance of equipping the saints and advancing the kingdom of God on earth and in heaven. The content of the sermon teaches, challenges, convicts, and reaches out to all who come with open hearts and minds seeking conversion, nurture, and spiritual power.
The pastor who does not have this in mind might want to rethink his /her purpose in the pulpit. I think that listening to a sermon with congregants interrupting via twitter would be distracting. I think ideally we should let the Spirit of God first speak through the pastor and then sort out what God is saying to us as the result of listening to the message with reflection. If we are tweeting during the message we may miss the whole point the pastor is making. However we are led to respond, make sure we “Let the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart be acceptable to the sight of God.” Remember the pastor’s part is to deliver the message faithfully because there are consequences to the shepherd who leads the sheep astray. The communicant’s responsibility is to handle the Word of Truth faithfully and apply it to our lives with care.
Summary: What is a sermon for? Is it a form of oratory that is dedicated to enhancing the worth of the pastor? Is it a creative part of the ritual of religious expression that flutters for a moment on the conscience of those who are listening and then melds with the many other messages that demand the attention of our lives?
Taste and see that the Lord is good!