Sermonless Sundays?

Discussion in 'Worship' started by Tom Hart, Apr 10, 2018.

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  1. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    Greetings, all.

    Question for you. Just how bad is it for a church to have a Sunday with no sermon?

    I had never heard of such a thing until this past Sunday. At my in-laws' church, in lieu of a sermon, they had a missionary speak on the work she was doing in Jordan. It turns out that the church has skipped preaching in the past, with singing-only services. (They have also had non-ordained speakers from time to time, sometimes women.)

    This is a Korean Methodist church. It's obviously quite a liberal denomination.

    Is it wrong to not have a sermon? It certainly seems wrong. (Acts 2:42 comes to mind.) If it is wrong, what should be done about it?

    Thank you. I appreciate your help.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
  2. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    Sometimes it is necessary for a church that doesn't have someone to preach. I've been in a Reformed church where the pastor hasn't been able to make it at the last minute, so we substituted with a time of singing and prayer. Some traditions have services on Sundays focused around prayer and/or singing as well, such as Evensong, Vespers, and Compline.
  3. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    In an irregular circumstance, like Jake has suggested, it may be the only course. It sounds like this is regular, however. Withholding the Gospel from the people of God is office/clerical thievery and abuse.
  4. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    I have been in churches which have received missionary reports during the service, but it takes the space which at other times is occupied by baptisms, ordinations, etc. It doesn't take the place of the sermon, although it might cause a hymn to be dropped.
  5. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    When I go to a service I expect to be served. Call me selfish, but such is the way I am.
  6. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    This was not an irregular circumstance. The pastor, as I understand it, was present in the pews, and the speaker, a female missionary, was scheduled to speak in advance. In this instance there was no claim that she was preaching, although the church has had female "preachers" in the past.
  7. dtaylor3

    dtaylor3 Puritan Board Freshman

    The sermon should be the prime focus of the service activities. Not the speaker or the fact that it is a sermon, but the fact that it is the delivery of the Word of God to the people.

  8. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    Missionary work is saved for Sunday school not for worship. I would think that if a pastor can't show up for service due to unforeseen circumstances, then an elder would have a sermon on hand that he had prepared for that type of emergency.
  9. dtaylor3

    dtaylor3 Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree, I can't imagine, except in a VERY RARE case, that the church would not have someone who is qualified to bring a message from Scripture in the unforeseen absence of the pastor.

    But in the case of the pastor sitting in the front row and not bringing God's word, that is a pastor who is not carrying out his duties in my opinion.
  10. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    If the missionary is ordained/licensed/approved to preach, it's great to have the guy deliver a sermon, provided he is able without being overburdened. If not, the missionary's report should not take the place of preaching.

    In a church that does not see preaching as fundamentally different from other types of instructive speech, it is tempting to let a missionary report take the place of the sermon: it gives the missionary time in front of the congregation, gives a break to the regular preacher, and might cover themes that are not the main guy's strength. But this mindset misses the truth that preaching is not just a time to be instructed or informed; it is a time to hear from God through preaching from his Word.
  11. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    We had a sermonless Sunday last year. There is a bad snow storm and church was cancelled. ;)
  12. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    That's a bummer, Tim, but a providential hindering.
  13. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    Used to be fair common with circuit-riding preachers.
  14. John Yap

    John Yap Puritan Board Freshman

    wait till you go to a church with sermonless Sunday's who have a preacher...
  15. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    Around 1897, I believe, the southern Presbyterian Church published an entire volume of sermons by various preachers (some famous, mostly not). These sermons were meant to be read by an elder if a preacher were providentially hindered from his ministerial work on a Sunday.
  16. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    A 'should' vs 'is' scenario.

    Whitefield and Wesley aside, Methodist preaching doesn't have the place it does in the Reformed world. That being the slap happy way mainline services go down should not surprise anyone.
  17. jambo

    jambo Puritan Board Senior

    Going to a church on a Sunday and not hearing a sermon is like sitting in a restaurant and not eating a meal. You leave just as hungry as you were when you sat down.
  18. augustacarguy

    augustacarguy Puritan Board Freshman

    Might be a blessing for some churches. Lol

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
  19. Myson

    Myson Puritan Board Freshman

    Isn't that a shame though? In my own context, very rural with hundreds of churches with less than a few thousand people, each building holding around 20-50 people, I think it took me until the last 8 years (until I moved) to actually hear the Word preached and expounded on. I got a lot of cute stories and jokes, plenty
    of shouting, and very very loud demands to abstain from drinking, and a few encouragements on pop psychology tips marriage and work (which had literally no bearing on single High School and college me), but never the gospel. I've been to dozens and dozens of churches, and I feel it'd be better if they said nothing at all. The gospel is either "Be a good person so you don't go to hell" or "Six tips [From God] on how to be a better husband/wife/father/employee." From such "sermons," Lord spare us.
  20. Myson

    Myson Puritan Board Freshman

    Ultimately, it depends on what the church believes 1.) the Church is 2.) what the Church does and 3.) What the preaching of the Word is. Most churches in my context would answer 1.) The Church is a communal gathering of like-minded people in a region 2.) In this gathering they are to be encouraged that the lives they live are secure and in the "right" and those who disagree are in the "wrong" - which can be done by a variety of means and 3.) Preaching is just one of those means.

    Biblically, the Church is that organic instiution that has been ordered by the All-Powerful Soverign Trinitarian God of the Universe, that is his people, saved and secured from their sins, who are gathered to worship him, and taught who he is and how they are meant to glorify and enjoy him. Preaching is not a means to make people feel good about themselves, or to tell them about who they are, but primarily the voice of God himself, declaring to his people that he has saved through his Word, his will for them to their salvation, nourishment, and intimacy. Without the Word preached, there is no authoritative word for the people by which they can be organized and governed and thus, to miss out on it is to deny God the worship owed to him, the food that God's people hunger for, and the message of salvation to sinners who need to hear it. Though these things, in special circumstances happen outside of Sunday worship, they are supplementary, not primary, to the Word preached to the gathered people of God. In preaching, God's glory is proclaimed, sin is condemned, reconciliation is given to those who repent, and our lives are thus changed and we are exhorted and taught how to obey him from thenceforth as his Covenant people.

    Now, if the church disagrees about these things, then they are likely to disregard the preaching of the Word, but I believe it is to their detriment in every way.
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