20 Jul Progressive Christian Sermons

The state of Christian sermons (be they Evangelical sermons or Progressive Christian sermons) has remained pretty constant for centuries now. What state is this? Well, in the words of singer and songwriter Joe Jones (circa 1960):

You talk too much, you worry me to death,
You talk too much, you even worry my pet,
You just talk, talk too much.

You talk about people that you don’t know,
You talk about people wherever you go,
You just talk, talk too much.

It is not so much that long-winded sermons cause us to worry (or nod off in the pews). Or that Christianity’s preachers talk too much about people they don’t know, even though they often do, even progressive clergy (who can forget Rev. Michael Pfleger’s comments about Hillary Clinton).

The problem is that excess sermonizing steals the revelation from us. Revelations born from the lips of preachers are will-o’-the-wisps that flicker in our minds briefly but rarely are internalized. For revelations to be transformative we must come to them on our own. That is why Socrates taught with questions, and Jesus taught with parables.

Questions and parables do not steal the “aha” experience from us. They encourage it. Now is the time for Progressive Christian ministers to begin rethinking their approaches to the Sunday sermon—those wordy monologues which all too often are but platforms to show off our erudition. The progressive pulpit should not be confused with the university lectern. Parishioners are not college students.

Let us dial back on the scholarship, the analysis, and the scripture, and increase the storytelling, the laughter, and the wonder. Let us be the river guide who lets the fishers make their own catch.