A friend told me about a website last week, a treasure trove of preaching, with links to more than 8,000 sermons – 8,000! There’s got to be a few good ones in there. Most of us only need forty or fifty in a year (unless we are Korean wherein we would have to multiply the number by 10). They always said that the internet would save us time. Well here’s one way. We can simply preach each other’s sermons.
There is a certain logic to it. I mean, if a sermon is worth preaching, it’s worth preaching again. If it was true when you proclaimed it, it ought to still be true if I proclaimed the same thing. We’re not so postmodern as to let go of the universality of truth, are we?
Of course, it’s the time management aspect of this that is the most compelling. As Rick Warren likes to say, you can do your own research or you can pay him and his staff pennies an hour to do it for you. Economies of scale, you know.
The problem is that I’ve never been quite able to pull it off. Any time I’ve tried to preach someone else’s outline it comes off sounding like someone else’s outline. It sounds flat, without the kind of impact in my life or that of the listeners that would happen if I had done the hard work of building my own sermon under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The issue, when you think about it, is that preaching is more than propositions. The outline (or plot) is a rather small part of the ultimate product. The sermon is an event, a moment-in-time that can’t be published, reduced to outlines, or otherwise truncated into a format that can be easily transmitted by our various technologies. The sermon is that unique event when God speaks through a preacher he has prepared for this specific opportunity. Rich Warren has preached some great sermons, but they are not my sermons. For me to try to ride his coattails might smack more of laziness than efficiency.
People coming to preaching.org to find sermons for next week will be disappointed. There are, of course, plenty of other places one could go. This is a place, instead, to think about the task of preaching itself. Perhaps we can challenge one another to the hard work of creative proclamation. Perhaps we can help our people hear from God.