Entertainment and the Sermon

Entertainment and the Sermon is an article by Pastor David Cox on how entertainment should not be a principal part of a biblical sermon.

Defining what is Entertainment

Entertainment is enjoying something. But there are many different kinds and purposes of enjoyment. Many times a person who works very hard enjoys what he does and at the end of the day, he is content that he has accomplished something of value.

Then there are those who are bored (cannot dedicate themselves to something productive) and so they open their cell phone and watch videos for hours and hours trying to entertain themselves. The difference between these two entertainments is the first would be approved by God, while the second would not. Moreover the second type is an escape from the problems and responsibilities of life while the first is an confronting and dealing with these problems and responsibilities in a spiritually responsible way.

Entertaining Sermons

As a pastor that has dedicated my life to the work of the Lord, I have heard many different kinds of sermons. I have sat under PhD’s in Bible preach and teach Sunday School lessons. I have also heard people with no training preach and teach. It is surprising how little you can take away morally from a very well educated preacher at times, and how much you can take away from a relatively ignorant Bible student who has a burden laid on his heart by the Lord.

But that is the exact point, education can help a preacher preach better, but it is no substitute for more important things.

The Entire Purpose of a Sermon

What many preachers miss is that sermons and preaching are elements of our spiritual life that God has given us through and in the local church. Their purpose in our spiritual lives is to transform us into the image of Christ. This is by essential factors or elements, the Word of God, the explaining of that word as well as illumination of the spiritual principles involved in those passages, and above all application and motivation applied to the hearer’s life.

In public speaking, they talk of the “take-away”. In websites, they talk of the click, or in other words, what you are trying to get the hearer to finally in the end to do if your words convince the hearer of the speaker’s particular purpose in that speech.

Most sermons are purposeless

Most sermons have no purpose, no application, nothing. They are just filled with cold lifeless data. Jesus’ twelve apostles were named x, y, and z. Alone that information does nothing to instill morality into the hearer.

But when you talk about Matthew being called to follow Christ and leaving his well paying job in order to do so, you immediately see an application. We should sacrifice our own lives in order to follow and serve Christ. Some people, Matthew, did so at probably great personal loss. Those who were fishing and Christ called them to follow him, also left all to follow Christ.

Morality and moral Purposes are abundant

It is surprising that this moral applications are abundant in Scriptures, and it is not hard to find them if you are really looking for them. But then there are those who never seem to find them and in actuality, even though one is so clearly visible it is hard to miss, they stumble all around it but never hit on it.

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

What Paul referred to was that there were certain preachers and congregations (i.e. churches) that had a dynamic between them where the preachers preached matters and with words that were highly pleasing to them. This is where our present topic enters in also.

The Call and Mission of a Preacher

The most obvious point here is that preachers are called of God to intercede and inform and motivate for their people. The only way they can do this at all is to discern the message of God correctly and present it to their people. This is not really entertaining. It is like surgery. It hurts so many times. Some times it takes away a hurt eventually, but it is not pure fun. After years in a good church under good preaching, a person can look back over what they have learned and how they have been transformed into the image of Christ, and be content with that.

But every sermon, every class that a preacher gives should be directed towards morality. By that, I mean everything should make the hearer embrace some point of morally. If you are in a Bible College taking Bible courses, fine, just teach cold, hard data. But everything that goes on in a church should be directed towards the moral shaping of the hearers.

What this doesn’t Mean

By saying we should not be entertaining our people by antics in our preaching, I am not saying that the sermon should be boring. It should be interesting. But it should not be pointless rambling and going down rabbit trails. From the beginning to the end, there should be a very specific point to the sermon. The preacher should be able to pin down what moral character should be seen in those who accept his sermon. He should spell this out in the beginning and then apply his sermon to that morality in the conclusion.

More Posts on Improving Preaching Issues

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