Thinking Out Loud

November 7, 2017

The Downside of Sermon Podcasts

My name is Paul, and I’m a sermon podcastaholic.* On Sundays I’ve been known to listen to as many as five of them, though that doesn’t happen often. But three is not unusual.

Read Schuchardt, a professor of media ecology at Wheaton College was a recent guest on The Phil Vischer Podcast. He has ten kids, no TV, no cell phone, and no internet. After discussing technology and culture, at the very end of the discussion, Skye Jethani asked Read about the implications for the church with respect to the things they had talked about…

Skye Jethani: The basic economy of why people go to church, or why people have gone to church for five centuries, has changed. Most pastors I talk to about this don’t want to change that model. But they’re angry or upset or frustrated that a generation is now around that doesn’t show up on Sunday.

Read Schuchardt: Yeah, I’ve had this conversation with various pastors. One of the things I say is, “Look if value really is a function of scarcity, why are you giving away your weekly sermons for free on the internet which is just an invitation to not come?” Why not just say, “It’s live, it’s here, it’s one day of the week only. You’ve got to be there to get it.”

Skye: It’s the same reason your students won’t read a book.

Read: In other words, if you’ll camp out all night to get those tickets to see that concert of that one singer live…

Skye: Don’t you think that it’s because most pastors know they’re not that good?

Read: No, I think it’s because they are sincerely trying to help further and spread their message and also reach their elderly and shut-ins out of Christian love and concern. But they don’t realize that it’s also simultaneously under cutting the over-all “Why would I go there?”

Skye: Yeah, but when I talk to a young person, they might admire their pastor, think they’re great, whatever. But they also realize, “Well, I’m going to listen to these other five celebrity pastors because they’re so entertaining.” And the average pastor, as faithful and good and doctrinally sound as they may be are not as entertaining. So they’re competing in this media environment in which they can’t really compete.

Read: Yeah, but as soon as you say ‘entertainment’, that’s not a focus on Scripture. That’s a focus on television.

Honestly, I hadn’t thought about that. The words, “If value is really is a function of scarcity…” leave me asking if we’ve devalued sermons and preaching by making them ubiquitous.

There had been some earlier discussion about how modern Evangelical church now consists of simply singing some songs and listening to the sermon. Little or nothing else. There is no particular compelling need to be physically present for this if you can buy or download the worship team’s album and listen to the messages at home.

I reminded my wife, who was getting ready to lead worship on Sunday** how important it is for her to continue to provide the interactive worship elements that she always incorporates in her part of the service. I thought of another area pastor who always includes a weekly discussion question where people break up into groups of 2-4 people. Or maybe you still are in a smaller church that takes prayer requests, or at least as a “pastoral prayer” for needs in the congregation and the community.

Absent those elements, you’re left with just the sermon and, like the man said, you’re giving “an invitation not to come.”

*We prefer the term sermon junkie.
**She also typed today’s interview transcript for me.

August 19, 2014

Video Moments Worth Sharing

Love Well - Jamie GeorgeThis weekend I watched a number of things that I thought were worth sharing. The first is embedded below for your convenience, the others are linked. This video is from the Canadian daily Christian talk show, 100 Huntley Street and features author and “spiritual navigator” Jamie George discussing his new book Love Well (David C. Cook Publishing). I’m about 95 pages in right now and am impressed with his transparency and candor.

The first of the Willow links was John Ortberg’s annual visit there. He was on staff at Willow Creek for many years, and on this summer’s visit, was sharing some of the content from his book Soul Keeping which we’ve reviewed here. The message runs 42 minutes; click this link and then choose audio or video.

The second Willow link is the man himself, Bill Hybels doing what Bill Hybels does best and preaching like no one else. The message which led into a Baptism service runs 37 minutes; click this link and then choose audio or video.

I do have one more for you as well, this is Bruxy Cavey teaching through basic Bible doctrines as part of a systematic theology course for beginners.  You’ll see all the messages at the link, but the one I especially wanted to recommend today is the one from Week 9 – Eschatology. Click this link, and then choose audio or video.

Some of these may be reiterated on the link list tomorrow as well.

February 6, 2014

I Was Born a Ramblin’ Man

Filed under: blogging, Church — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:26 am

I had a great re-post scheduled here from a blog that will remain nameless. Nameless because I deleted the bookmark accidentally. So instead I will ramble.

If Shakespeare Lived on my Street

The Bard would no doubt write this if he lived in my town yesterday

Shovel, shovel, toil and trouble

The Debate

The religious Superbowl of sorts took place Tuesday night, though I have to confess I watched a replay Wednesday when there were fewer distractions. I think far too much energy is spent on the whole subject of origins. We don’t know, and furthermore we don’t know what we don’t know. I prefer to spend my energy on incarnation and atonement, or to put it in one word, Jesus.

Still people went nuts over this. If you go to blog aggregator Alltop – Christian or its sister Alltop – Church, you should still find lots to read, even today, by doing a page search for “Bill Nye” or “Ken Ham” or “Creation.”  I liked Phil Vischer’s comments, too; and also what Scott Hoezee said at Think Christian about how pastors are now left to mop up the mess. In balance, you should read comments on this outside the Christian blogosphere and Christian Twitterverse, such as this one.

The Christian Equivalent to “I’m Feeling Lucky”

So this is about ramblin, not random, but I did something deliberately random on Monday night.  First, I went to the website of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches in England. Then I selected a church at random; I chose Aigburth Community Church because I wasn’t sure how to pronounce it and because it was in Liverpool, a town I seem to remember is associated with a musical group of some renown. And then I listened to a sermon on the book of James. A good sermon.

It was nice to hear preaching from somewhere far away; to be reminded that the capital “C” Church is bigger than anything in the United States or Canada; to be made aware of my brothers and sisters across the Atlantic. It was just the message, but they announced a closing hymn, so I hurried over to YouTube and caught I Once Was Lost (All I Have is Christ) which was new to me. I think the song may actually be of U.S. origin.

Donald Miller’s Church Attendance Record

The Blue Like Jazz guy is admitting his church attendance is somewhat spotty. Just doesn’t do it for him.  Justification: “Research suggest there are three learning styles, auditory (hearing) visual (seeing) and kinesthetic (doing) and I’m a kinesthetic learner. Of course churches have all kinds of ways for you to engage God including many kinesthetic opportunities including mission trips and so forth, but if you want to attend a “service” every Sunday, you best be an auditory learner. There’s not much out there for kinesthetic or visual learners.” You can read his whole confession here.  (And no, not the Blue Like Jazz type of confessional.)

The very next day, Thom Shultz posted on The Church’s Male Exodus. David Murrow writes much on this theme in his blog Church for Men, such as this article.

Subway Removing Plastic from Bread

Okay, this one’s a little off-topic, but I’m glad to hear that the chemical that is used to make yoga mats is no longer going to be included in the bread used in Subway sandwiches. ABC News reported, “The World Health Organization has linked this chemical additive to respiratory issues, allergies and asthma, and it is banned in Europe and Australia. Azodiacarbonamide is legal in the United States and Canada.”

for more randomness, catch me over at Twitter

October 14, 2013

Confessions of a Sermon Junkie

Filed under: Church — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:49 am

Sermon podcasts

Eight. Count ’em. Eight sermons yesterday. Am I insane?

  1. The first of two live sermons Sunday morning at a Christian & Missionary Alliance church
  2. The second of two live sermons Sunday morning at an Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada church (with a 15 min. drive in between)
  3. North Point Online ( at 2:00 PM; a weekly routine here, with Ted Cunningham subbing for Andy Stanley. (a really funny communicator)
  4. Bobby Schuller at Shepherd’s Grove, the first “fresh” 60-minute Hour of Power broadcast in many months (triggered by a reader comment today on an old post)4
  5. Bobby Schuller at Shepherd’s Grove, continuing a series on The Sermon on the Mount, expected to run until Lent (though I skipped a bit of the music)5
  6. Bruxy Cavey at the Meeting House in Canada kicking off a series called Modern Family6
  7. Ted Cunningham (see #3) at his home church, Wood Hills in Branson, MO (finally choosing an older one from the summer, Who is Jesus)7
  8. Mike Krause at Southridge Church in the Niagara Falls, Canada area — it was only 18 minutes (due to Baptisms) so the link below is to an older one in the Boot Camp series8

Then I rewatched the TED Talk thing with Malcolm Gladwell about David & Goliath that everybody’s talking about.9


The reader comment:

The cathedral of course is now being renovated to be “…suitable for Catholic worship.” (Tod D. Brown, fmr. Bishop of Orange County, CA). More recently I was told the Hazel Wright Organ is being dismantled for shipment to Padua, Italy for total restoration. Robert A. gave the last sermon at CC and final Protestant benediction. The best news is that the congregation relocated to what was St. Callistus Catholic Church in early July, with the new church name of Shepherd’s Grove and Hour of Power is now in new broadcasts and other media from there: with Bobby Schuller as the volunteer pastor for SG/HOP and the church he started, Tree of Life Community. Vibrant messages based upon The Word, Bobby is welcoming and compassionate, but quite his own compared to father or grandfather. The program can be seen 24/7 at and as in the first service was read, “The old is gone. The new is here.”

Frankly, it is a miracle and there must have been some reason, known only to God that all of the negative and sadness took place. It is with great sadness, that the family has announced the founding pastor, Dr. Robert H. Schuller to have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer. With treatment, the doctors hope that he may have 2 years, but possibly less to be in this life. I encourage all who loved HOP before, to stay with the family in its new home at Shepherd’s Grove. The statue of Jesus The Shepherd has been moved from CC campus to just outside the front doors of the new location. The lacquered gold Cross seen from the earliest days within CC, has been moved to the new church and hangs above the chancel. Bobby sends out regular messages on social media, to encourage and uplift.

Also yesterday updated this blogs blogroll (at right) to includes several new entries and delete people who haven’t posted in the last 30 days.

And…be sure to check out the link for the Top 200 Ministry Blogs. We’re down slightly, but the Twitter headcount is downright embarrassing. (It’s a wee bit higher since the list was published.)  Twitter followers urgently needed!

Finally, to my Canadian readers, Happy Thanksgiving!  It doesn’t really look like the pictures below, but we can pretend.

fall scene


Fall Colors

March 6, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Jesus is the Light of the World

Regular readers will know this already, but I’ve never quite come out and said it: I find it somewhat snobbish when bloggers publish link lists where anything older than 2-3 days is considered obsolete. A true link sleuth will unearth some great material and won’t be concerned if the post is dated 30 days ago. If it was true then…

  • Essay of the week: Church Planting in Montreal. A somewhat typical couple has been living together for ten years but has never gotten close to having any kind of spiritual discussion. And that’s just one challenge. The Quebecois version of Hybels’ “unchurched Harry” is quite different from “Harry” in the rest of North America. 
  • Runner up: Remember that feeling when you were young and you came home from school only to find nobody home and you immediately thought everybody had been raptured?  Well, it happens to not-so-young college students, too.
  • Okay, so that video about how to write a worship song wasn’t the first time Jordan at BlimeyCow waded into Christian music criticism. Or church camp. And different types of churches
  • While everyone else on Sunday night was watching The Bible miniseries on History, one blogger was putting the final period on his review even as the credits rolled. I guess that way you get to say, “First!”  (The cable channel show beat all the big networks in the ratings.)
  • If you know people whose Christian faith is characterized by what they are against, may I suggest you copy and paste this article and email it to them.
  • For people who don’t know how to use a “table of contents” in a book, The Alpha Bible presents the Bible books in… well you know.
  • Given the success of The Book of Mormon, a Broadway production by The Foursquare Church denomination on the life of Aimee Semple McPherson probably seemed like a good idea at the time
  • The idea of gospel tracts probably seems somewhat archaic to most readers here, but the concision of these short presentations actual suits present attention spans. Now 31 Good News tracts are available on audio.  
  • Matt Hafer comes out of church leadership hibernation with five ways for pastors to tell if people are truly on board.
  • I know I often link you over to Christianity 201, but I really want you all, if nothing else, to catch this video.
  • In some ways connected to a link we had here last week, a Christianity Today women’s blog suggests a little bit of Christianese is OK.
  • As someone whose entire wardrobe was purchased at Goodwill and Salvation Army stores, this is scary: Pat Robertson allows the possibility that those shirts and sweaters could have demonic spirits attached. (That’s why Pat buys professionally tailored suits, I guess.)
  • Once we know the name of the new Pope, the new Pope has to choose a name. Past Pope picks included these. (You remember Pope Urban, right?) 
  • How is it possible that this great song by the Wheaton College Gospel Choir has had less than 2,500 views in two years?  If this don’t bring a smile to your face, your mouth is broken. Watch, copy the link and share.
  • Jon Acuff finds himself in a prayer meeting with someone who gives a whole new meaning to the phrase too much information
  • If you missed it January, Shaun Groves shares songwriting secrets for worship composers. But ultimately, “I think worship writers have parted with standard songwriting practices because they’re creating with the live experience in mind. So their priorities are much different from those of a traditional songwriter.”
  • The people at Thomas Nelson flatly refused us a review copy of this, but I’ll be nice and tell you about it anyway. Jesus: A Theography is a new book by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola combining theology and biography with –[free review time expired]
  • …Mind you, that was already better than this guy’s review. “After a while, I finally put the book down and said enough.” (When you accept a free book you do agree to finish reading it.)
  • Remember Anne Jackson? Well she’s still kicking around, still writing, and apparently this Friday is a special day
  • Nadia Bolz-Weber, the Lutheran with attitude, shares her struggle preparing to preach on The Parable of the Vineyard. (Open the audio link in a new tab, then click back to follow the text; the whole sermon is about ten minutes.) Actual quote: “…you’d think that I’d totally remember a parable where poop is mentioned.”
  • Meanwhile Steve McCoy’s kids, age 12 and 14, are taking sermon notes while he preaches.
  • On our fifth birthday, we introduced you to Derek the Cleric. We had a tough time that day choosing between two cartoons and thought we’d stretch the written permission we received to do just one more.

Derek The Cleric - Powerpoint

July 18, 2012

Wednesday Link List

It’s Wednesday, but Friday’s a-coming!

November 7, 2009

Vote for Your Favorite Podcasts or Sermon Downloads

question-markSo who do you download?  Burn discs by?  Create MP3 files for?  Or simply have streaming audio playing while you’re working at your computer?

This is your opportunity to tell the world all about your favorite sermon audio source.  You can vote for popular speakers and pastors, but I’m also hoping you’ll help me discover some obscure ones I don’t know about.

I’m looking for:

  • The communications style and edginess of Rob Bell
  • The relevance and application to current situations of Andy Stanley
  • The historical and contextual information of Bruxy Cavey
  • The penetrating thought processes of Greg Boyd

I’m also looking for:

  • Good quality audio, straight forward downloading
  • Non-extremist, middle-ground Evangelical theology
  • Something that hits me where I live
  • Consistent fresh material available each month
  • Life changing teaching from someone who under 40 who has 50 years of pastoral experience.    Just kidding about the last one.

But like I said, you can simply vote for your personal favorites.

In the comment section below, right.     Go!

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