Sunday, May 13, 2007

A pastor walks into a bar...

Bill Cosby and Jerry Seinfeld: two comedians that pioneered great developments in the field of comedy. Cosby perfected the casual storytelling delivery. Seinfeld pointed out the hilarious nature of everyday life. They are funny and they are also some of the best communicators around. If a speaker wanted to keep an audience listening and entertained, theirs would be a great example to follow. However, if substance needs to be communicated, other things must come into play. Stories can be memorable, and often didactic. However, they can also be simple entertainment.

Pastoral communication has fallen prey to ratings in the past ten years or so. Somewhere along the way, some pastors have forgoten that their job is to communicate Biblical truth, and instead they have started trying to do “Christian Stand-Up.”

It seems one can’t make it through these sermons without hearing lengthy anecdotes from the preacher’s life, all humorous, all tied amazingly into some nugget of “truth” —occasionally accompanied by a verse or two. People come. People laugh. People enjoy the service. Numbers grow so the church is dubbed a success. The pastor is such a good speaker. He relates “the message” so well to everyday life. The problem is “the message” has very little about the Bible or how they should live. Instead, they learn story after story about their pastor’s life, and what a funny life it must be!

Is it the dumbing down of society that has brought this about? Can people no longer be expected to sit through a serious discussion about Theology? Or is it the all-pervasive Pragmatism of American culture that is satisfied merely with what fills the pews in the church and doesn’t care what fills the hearts and minds of the church?

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