Should we Support Sermon Audio?

Status
Not open for further replies.

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
I'll admit, I visit Sermon Audio every day. Who can resist listening to some of the greatest preachers our generation at the click of a button? Never before, in the history of the Church has there ever been such an abundance of good preachers at the fingertips of so many souls. Surly we are a blessed generation. We do not need to travel to the Isle of Lewis to hear David P Murray, or to Grand Rapids to hear Joel Beeke, or to Holland to hear Paul den Butter, or to Greece to hear Terry Atkinson. "œShut in's" can readily be fed by the preaching of the Word where they might have little feeding otherwise. Those who are isolated in remote parts of the globe can hear the heralded Word, day by day, and week by week without travel or high cost. How often I have personally been blessed in my early morning walks, by the preaching of others through my MP3 player! What a wonder that the Internet, much like the Gutenberg press of the Reformation, would be a tool in the hand of the Lord in feeding His Church.

And yet as I have pondered the blessings of the "œon line sermon"I have also become aware of a few detractions. I was disappointed a while back as I perused the information bulletin board of a Church I was visiting when I saw a list of the top sermon downloads of particular pastors. Surely the Lord did not intend for His sacred blessing of preaching to be used as a popularity contest akin to a top 10 Ten billboard? Even if this was not the intent (and I don't think it was), what impression does it leave?

The Minister has, as his first calling, the immediate needs of his own flock. Act 20:28 says, "œTake heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." Lloyd-Jones was dead set against the publishing of a sermon for reading for two practical reasons. First, he believed that each message belonged not to the whole universal Church, but to the immediate flock before the Preacher. The message was designed for their edification and up-building, and conversion, not for others. The sermon came as a prayerful answer to the needs of a particular flock. It is a letter of love to them (as it were), from the Holy Spirit, by the agency of a personal pastor. Secondly, Lloyd-Jones did not like the printed sermon because it inclined the preacher to develop his sermons for publication and not for preaching. To him this killed the sermon as a unique specimen od divine agency. Ans this poses a real danger to the minister, who has one eye on his flock, and one eye on publication. Invariably he becomes tempted to preach beyond his flock, and preach for readership.

Likewise, with the "œon line sermon" I think there is a temptation for the preacher to forget who the Lord has set them among. Further, it opens up the real danger of thinking too much of one's own ability, and succumb to the notion that our pulpit ministry deserves a wider audience. There are many preachers on Sermon Audio (for example) that ought not to be there. Their sermons are nothing more than a demonstration of a weakness in the pulpit, rather than a strength. Yet because the technology is accessible, they feel it ought to be used so others can hear them. This comes, I believe, from an overinflated sense of self, and one's own ability. The truth is, the Christian Church has been furnished over the centuries with "œblue collar" pastors (I use such a term respectfully). I include myself in this category. We are not an overly gifted sort, but we have been entrusted with the care of 50, or 100, or 200 souls with the tools we have been given. This makes us useful in hand of the Lord in a specific way. What makes us think that others need to hear our words? I wonder if ambition, pride, and the ready availability of publication creates in many an unhealthy desire to go beyond what rightfully belongs to a very select group of hearers? I refer back to Act 20:28 "œTake heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers."

From this vast "œpublication of mediocrity" stems another problem in my mind; the dissatisfaction that arises from the discovery of the truly gifted preachers. How many times have I visited with a member of some congregation, and heard them laud the preaching of some great Pastor that they have heard "œon line" and the subsequent dissatisfaction with their own pastor. Imagine listening to Sinclair Ferguson or Ligon Duncan all week and then sitting under the ministry of a rather mediocre preacher on the Lord's Day? The "œon line sermon" has the potential of creating an apatite in the Church that leaves them feeling less than blessed on the Sabbath. "Why can't our pastor preach with more fire and passion? Why can't he plumb the depths of a passage like Rev. _______?" At this point we find a depreciation of the ordained gospel ministry in our midst, and unwittingly Christ's own work among us. Further, it has the potential to encourage the hearer to find a better preacher, or even consider staying home. Why listen to a average preacher if you can hear the best? Am I suggesting we stop listening to the great preachers of our day? God forbid! But we need to be able to identify the pitfalls of this technology as well as the blessing. Each congregation that has a minister, has him in Providence. As such, he is a gift from the Lord weather he has 1,2, or 5 talents.

Just some thoughts to ponder.



[Edited on 7-31-2006 by JOwen]
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Brother, remember, its the same with good books.

Matthew Mead, for example, preached through a series of sermons on the "Almost Christian Discovered." Some will read that (like my wife) and in certain ways get somewhat "scared", and possibly even "bruised" by sermons that were meant for a specific congregation at a specific time in the life of their church. I've heard that people walked away from that book doubting their salvation. I mean, Mead DOES say that you can "have" the Holy Spirit and still not be a Christian. That would scare most young Christians right out of the church.

On the other hand, Mead's sermons are AWESOME in that work.

I admit, though, with what you are talking about with sermons online, I do with sermons in a book. I'd much rather READ a sermon by a Puritan or Reformer than listen to the "ho hum" sermons of "Preacher X" who can't seem to get his thoughts out of his head succinctly. That is probably my own fault for reading too much "good stuff".

When you've ridden in a Ford 500 Limited Edition, you won't ever go back to riding in a Saturn SL2. Why would you want to?

Definitely something to ponder.

[Edited on 8-1-2006 by C. Matthew McMahon]
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Thankyou, Jerrold, for reminding us how careful we need to be not to think of men above what is written. And as ministers, we should be happy to see God's people grow regardless of the means employed, acknowledging that the excellency of the power belongs to God. Blessings!
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
Originally posted by JOwen

Lloyd-Jones was dead set against the publishing of a sermon for reading for two practical reasons. First, he believed that each message belonged not to the whole universal Church, but to the immediate flock before the Preacher. The message was designed for their edification and up-building, and conversion, not for others. The sermon came as a prayerful answer to the needs of a particular flock. It is a letter of love to them (as it were), from the Holy Spirit, by the agency of a personal pastor. Secondly, Lloyd-Jones did not like the printed sermon because it inclined the preacher to develop his sermons for publication and not for preaching. To him this killed the sermon as a unique specimen od divine agency. Ans this poses a real danger to the minister, who has one eye on his flock, and one eye on publication. Invariably he becomes tempted to preach beyond his flock, and preach for readership.

I appreciate your comments here, and you no doubt bring up some tendencies to be guarded against that tend to neglect the ministry and authority of the local church. No doubt many have neglected or rejected entirely churches that don't measure up to their ideals, thinking that they can find a substitute on the internet, as many have done in the past with radio and TV preachers. Of course they never suspect that if they were to visit the churches of their preaching heroes for long, they will invariably find many of the same problems that plague most churches.

However, I do have one quibble. I think you are correct that Lloyd-Jones was dead set against preparing or preaching sermons with publication in mind, but it is simply not accurate that he was "dead set against the publishing of a sermon for reading". No doubt you and others here who are familiar with ML-J are aware that he spent the last 10+ years of his life editing his sermons for publication and that every book of his without exception, if I'm not mistaken, consists of sermons or lectures that he had given. In the authorised biography, Murray notes that a printed Lloyd-Jones sermon appeared every month in the Westminster Record.

But your main point is correct. We do find on p. 345 of Vol. 2 that

He did not view the readiness of contemporary Christianity to allow the pulpit to be overshadowed by other means of communication as a wise adjustment to modern conditions but as a loss of faith in the means to which God has attached the special promise of His power. It was because the church was being conditioned by the world that the testimony of John Knox was no longer commonly believed: "What efficacy hath the living voice above the bare letter read, the hungry and thirsty do feel to their comfort."
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
Originally posted by ChristopherPaul
I covet other church's due to online sermons.

The same tendency can plague forums like this one. I'm sure more than once someone on the PB has wished their pastor was more like one of the pastors here.
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by C. Matthew McMahon
Brother, remember, its the same with good books.

Matthew Mead, for example, preached through a series of sermons on the "Almost Christian Discovered." Some will read that (like my wife) and in certain ways get somewhat "scared", and possibly even "bruised" by sermons that were meant for a specific congregation at a specific time in the life of their church. I've heard that people walked away from that book doubting their salvation. I mean, Mead DOES say that you can "have" the Holy Spirit and still not be a Christian. That would scare most young Christians right out of the church.

On the other hand, Mead's sermons are AWESOME in that work.

I admit, though, with what you are talking about with sermons online, I do with sermons in a book. I'd much rather READ a sermon by a Puritan or Reformer than listen to the "ho hum" sermons of "Preacher X" who can't seem to get his thoughts out of his head succinctly. That is probably my own fault for reading too much "good stuff".

When you've ridden in a Ford 500 Limited Edition, you won't ever go back to riding in a Saturn SL2. Why would you want to?

Definitely something to ponder.

[Edited on 8-1-2006 by C. Matthew McMahon]

Yes, I'm aware of the exceptions to the thought process presented in my post. That is why its intent is more of an admonition to remember that a good thing can have pitfalls. Besides, there is something extraordinarily about a live sermon, that is not found in print...no matter how good the print might be.

Blessings!
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by polemic_turtle
Have you told any of your elders about. . .your problem?

I'm not sure what problem you are referring to brother. Care to explain?

Every blessing,
 

polemic_turtle

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by JOwen
Originally posted by polemic_turtle
Have you told any of your elders about. . .your problem?

I'm not sure what problem you are referring to brother. Care to explain?

Every blessing,
Truly sorry, brother, I didn't think to quote the fellow above me when I responded to him. I was asking, tongue in cheek, if he had told his pastor / elder that he coveted other churches (through) their online sermons.

I may have detracted from the natural flow of the conversation, for which I'm sorry, because this conversation rings a bell with me, particularly the part about Sinclair Ferguson. I think I actually told my pastor I subscribed to his podcast and got every one of his Sunday morning sermons. :-\ I now wonder what he feels like. :-s
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
Originally posted by polemic_turtle
Originally posted by JOwen
Originally posted by polemic_turtle
Have you told any of your elders about. . .your problem?

I'm not sure what problem you are referring to brother. Care to explain?

Every blessing,
Truly sorry, brother, I didn't think to quote the fellow above me when I responded to him. I was asking, tongue in cheek, if he had told his pastor / elder that he coveted other churches (through) their online sermons.

I may have detracted from the natural flow of the conversation, for which I'm sorry, because this conversation rings a bell with me, particularly the part about Sinclair Ferguson. I think I actually told my pastor I subscribed to his podcast and got every one of his Sunday morning sermons. :-\ I now wonder what he feels like. :-s

Probably concerned that you are listening to a baby-sprinkling minister that is not even a Baptist, let alone one who isn't a Primitive Baptist. :p
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top