Thinking Out Loud

October 5, 2008

The Sacraments (2): How Sacramental Is Your View of Bible Teaching?

Filed under: Christianity, Church — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:30 pm

Today I had a different thought on how those of us who grew up in non-sacramental churches can approach the topic of sacraments.   If you missed the earlier post on this, read it first, you can read it here.

In Evangelical churches, the hallmark of a great church service is the sermon.   If the message goes well, the whole service is said to have gone well, regardless of how lame the music and the readings might have been.

In mainline Protestant churches, often the benchmark of a great service is the liturgy.   If the liturgy goes well, it doesn’t matter if the homily isn’t great; the whole service is considered to have gone well.  In fact, the sermon is often a short meditation running less than ten minutes.

I think Evangelicals, instead of trying to meet the idea of liturgical sacrament half way, should take their own concept and push it to the nth degree.   We should see the sermon as sacrament, and expect ourselves to be changed by it, and allow ourselves to be changed by it.   The sermon should cause us to leave as different people than we were when we entered.

I know that some will see that as a cop-out; that it misses the point of sacramental worship and simply reinforces an Evangelical stereotype.   I don’t deny that.   I simply see this approach as a good thing. The Word of God should change us.   Just as “faith comes through hearing… the Word of God;” so a lot of other measurable growth comes by hearing.

Here’s how Aaron Niequist of Mars Hill (MI) puts it in the 2003 worship song, “Changed.”   Part one of the gospel is “taste and see.”  Part two of the gospel is “go and tell.”

I have been blessed — now I want to be a blessing
I have been loved — now I want to bring love
I’ve been invited — I want to share the invitation
I have been changed — to bring change to bring change.

We have been saved — we’re gonna shout about our Savior
We have been found — we’re gonna turn over every stone
We’ve been empowered — to love the world to Heaven
We have been changed — to bring change to bring change.


  1. The Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” The Bible also says, “God’s Word will not return void.” Wouldn’t it be great for churches of all denominations to include more Bible engagement (reading and listening)?

    Comment by Jon Wilke — October 6, 2008 @ 10:06 am

  2. There’s a lot of “sermon lite” going around right now; even some high profile pastors are not delivering much these days in terms of text.

    As far as readings go, the problem is not that some churches have dropped the scripture reading portion of the service. (I never liked the “tennis match” approach you find in responsive readings anyway.) The problem is that they don’t notice that they’ve dropped it or they don’t miss it.

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — October 6, 2008 @ 11:48 am

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