You probably already know the perceived condition of America in January 2021, as well as the state of the world. Some are saying we are in a state of political and social chaos. New diseases, wars, political intrigue and poverty, to name a few things that are holding our attention and draining our treasury. Many people are turning to religion, God or the Church for answers.
Millions of people (approximately 52 million) “attend church” in one of the 300,000+ churches in America, at least once a week each month. However, when people were asked the topic of the “sermon” they heard after 24 hours, only about 10 percent could tell you. When asked to cite the most important lesson they received, most just shrugged.
An estimated 1.2 million hours each week(1) are spent in sermon preparations; it takes about another 300,000 hours in delivery of these sermons (2) at a staggering potential cost of over $750 millions dollars nationally, each week(3). Yet, only 5% of those hearing these sermons, remember anything about them after 72 hours.
If you are normal, you have the potential of remembering 10% of what you hear, and that is only the potential. Pastor and Bible teacher, Rick Warren, says we forget 95% of what we hear after 72 hours.
So, what are you getting for $750,000,000 in offerings? And, if you are a preacher or a pastor, what are you giving? Are you preaching, sermonizing, teaching, discipling, lecturing, giving a religious address or discourse which improve peoples’s lives or that they can even remember?
Review these methods used by churches, and determine which of these your are getting on Sunday mornings – and decide if it is worth the time and money:
- Religious Lectures
- Religious Addresses
- Religious Discourses
- Gospel Preaching
- Bible Sermons
- Religious Teaching
- Christian Discipleship training
Studies show that most people don’t remember sermons, lectures, address or speeches—they don’t even remember paragraphs. What people remember are simple statements, slogans, and phrases. I don’t remember any speech John F. Kennedy gave, but most of us of a certain age remember his statements,
“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” and, “I am a Berliner!”
I don’t remember any sermon preached by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but I do remember his famous phrase,
“I have a dream!”
People tend to remember:
- 10% of what they read.
- 20% of what they only hear.
- 30% of what they only see.
- 50% of what they see and hear.
- 70% of what they say and write down.
- 90% of what they DO
People will more frequently remember simple repeated statements, slogans, and phrases.
Jesus ministry was modeled on:
- Jesus personally and actively setting the example for making, teaching and sending disciples. (I can find no example that Jesus wrote anything.)
- Jesus speaking and teaching and showing His disciples by His own example (50% retention rate).
- Jesus teaching His disciples to repeat His Words as He went with them to do His Works (90% retention rate).
So, Christian, how about you? How effective is your ministry?
- Is your church primarily using reading materials to disciple? (10% retention)
- Is your church primarily giving you sermons to disciple? (20% retention)
- Are you seeing videos and overhead projections and bulletins with outlines?
- When was the last time you went out with your pastor and preached, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 (attempted to) Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with leprosy, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. 9 Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, 10 or a bag for your journey, or even two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is deserving of his support. 11And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. 12 As you enter the house, give it your greeting. 13 If the house is worthy, see that your blessing of peace comes upon it. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. 14 And whoever does not receive you nor listen to your words, as you leave that house or city, shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment, than for that city. (90% retention)
And, Preacher / Pastor, how about you? How effective is your ministry?
- Do you have a blog? (10% retention)
- Do you give a weekly sermon or lecture? (20% retention)
- Do you use overheads projectors, videos or bulletin outlines? (50% retention)
- Do you take others and go and make disciples? 7 “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with leprosy, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. 9 Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, 10 or a bag for your journey, or even two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is deserving of his support. 11And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. 12 As you enter the house, give it your greeting. 13 If the house is worthy, see that your blessing of peace comes upon it. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. 14 And whoever does not receive you nor listen to your words, as you leave that house or city, shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment, than for that city. (90% retention)
The current way of “doing church” seems to be changing monthly. This has been going on for the last 40 years and it is causing the church to falter in influence and to lose its “savor”, as the Bible puts it.
The church, it seems, is becoming little more than a religious institution delivering “drive-in” or “drive-up fast food style” preaching, sermons, religious lectures, addresses, discourses and entertainment in competition with NFL Sunday, Youtube TV, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Now I have said it and you have read it, will it make any difference or will you just shrug your shoulders and trundle back to “doing your church thing” this Sunday?
Or will you, do like Peter, Andrew, James, Zebedee and John, who dropped everything about the current ways they were living, and followed Jesus, step by step?
The Answer? Follow the pattern and method established by Jesus. Nothing more, nothing less.
I can hear (because I have heard) people and pastors saying, “But, all the things we are doing are necessary and part of our ministry.”
And I say, “Yes? But, Jesus did not say to do it your way and He did not do it your way. Everything else you might say about Jesus, and those things which flow from Him, may be “Necessary, but they are Secondary”. Jesus is the MAIN THING! (And, by the way, if you say all the ‘extras’ are necessary, who are you trying to convice?”)
Your Brother and Friend,
Footnotes and references:
- 300,000 churches (x) 4 hours preparation time = 1.2 million hours for sermon preparation.
- 300,000 churches (x) 1 hour sermon deliver time = approximately 300,000 hours
- 1.2 millions hours in sermon preparation + 300,000 hours is sermon delivery time = 1.5 millions hours (x) $500 one day operating costs for building, utilities, salaries, etc., = $750,000,000,
Explanation of NOTES:
Take a look at these definitions, and determine which of these your are getting and if it is worth the time and money:
a speech read or delivered before an audience or class, especially for instruction or to set forth some subject: a lecture on Picasso’s paintings.
a speech of warning or reproof as to conduct; a long, tedious reprimand.
to give a lecture or series of lectures: He spent the year lecturing to various student groups.
verb (used with object), lec·tured, lec·tur·ing.
to deliver a lecture to or before; instruct by lectures.
to rebuke or reprimand at some length: He lectured the child regularly but with little effect.
Religious / Church Addresses
[ noun uh-dres, ad-res; verb uh-dres ]
a speech or written statement, usually formal, directed to a particular group of persons: the president’s address on the state of the economy.
a direction as to the intended recipient, written on or attached to a piece of mail.
verb (used with object), ad·dressed, ad·dress·ing.
to direct a speech or written statement to: to address an assembly.
to use a specified form or title in speaking or writing to:Address the president as “Mr. President.”
verb (used without object), ad·dressed or ad·drest, ad·dress·ing.Obsolete.
to make an appeal.
to make preparations.
[ noun dis-kawrs, -kohrs, dis-kawrs, -kohrs; verb dis-kawrs, -kohrs ]
communication of thought by words; talk; conversation: earnest and intelligent discourse.
a formal discussion of a subject in speech or writing, as a dissertation, treatise, sermon, etc.
Linguistics. any unit of connected speech or writing longer than a sentence.
verb (used without object), dis·coursed, dis·cours·ing.
to communicate thoughts orally; talk; converse.
to treat of a subject formally in speech or writing.
verb (used with object), dis·coursed, dis·cours·ing.
to utter or give forth (musical sounds).
[ preech ]
verb (used with object)
to proclaim or make known by sermon (the gospel, good tidings, etc.).
to deliver (a sermon).
to advocate or inculcate (religious or moral truth, right conduct, etc.) in speech or writing.
verb (used without object)
to deliver a sermon.
to give earnest advice, as on religious or moral subjects or the like.
to do this in an obtrusive or tedious way.
Synonbym for Preach: advocate, profess, pronounce, expound.
[ sur-muhn ]
a discourse for the purpose of religious instruction or exhortation, especially one based on a text of Scripture and delivered by a member of the clergy as part of a religious service.
any serious speech, discourse, or exhortation, especially on a moral issue.
a long, tedious speech.
[ teech ]
verb (used with object), taught, teach·ing.
to impart knowledge of or skill in; give instruction in: She teaches mathematics.
to impart knowledge or skill to; give instruction to: He teaches a large class.
verb (used without object), taught, teach·ing.
to impart knowledge or skill; give instruction.
Synonms for teach: coach. inform, enlighten, discipline, drill, school, indoctrinate; coach.
[ dih-sahy-puhl ]
one of the 12 personal followers of Christ.
one of the 70 followers sent forth by Christ. Luke 10:1.
any other professed follower of Christ in His lifetime.
any follower of Christ.
(initial capital letter) a member of the Disciples of Christ.
a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another; follower: a disciple of Freud.
verb (used with object), dis·ci·pled, dis·ci·pling.
Archaic. to convert into a disciple.
Obsolete. to teach; train.