People often ask me why our church doesn’t post my Sunday sermons on the church’s website the way many other churches do. I have some reservations in doing that.
First, I don’t want to spend extra money and energy on an effort that primarily helps those who are already Christians. If they were intended for non-believers, I’d be willing to do it, but most non-believers don’t watch sermons on the web. People who do watch those sermons are most likely long-time church members who have seen thousands of sermons. When they watch a sermon over the web, they sample a few sentences to decide whether they like it or not and switch to whatever they like. I don’t want to accommodate these kinds of people.
Second, I want to protect myself from the temptation of being called a “good” preacher. I’ve tried to make the focus of my sermons being useful to my congregation, not necessarily recognized as good by sermon experts. If my sermons were posted on the web, I might be tempted to impress the people watching them. When I’m invited to speak at revival meetings, I ask the host churches to not run any newspaper or radio ads for similar reasons: my purpose in being there is to help their church members. If other people come, I may be tempted to impress them.
Third, I don’t want to lose my persuasive power. Many preachers think that the purpose of a sermon is simply to proclaim God’s message. But I firmly believe that the purpose of preaching is to persuade people so that they change their thoughts and behavior. In order to persuade people, it’s necessary to repeat words or phrases. I may also have to repeat similar sermons to convince church members of the importance of the message. I know of a pastor who preached the same sermon on love for 3 months straight until his church members were convinced and started to demonstrate the love he preached about.
Seminary preaching professors frown upon these practices because they believe that sermons should be tidy and elegant. If my sermons were posted publicly, I may become conscious of these professors and other veteran preachers and be careful in choosing my words and phrases or avoid preaching on same themes. This may make my sermons good to them, but make them less persuasive to my congregation in the process.
This is also why I don’t want to publish my sermons as a book. That would involve someone listening to my sermons and transcribing them. If I knew that my spoken words would be published in written form, I may become too careful in choosing my words and phrases, again decreasing their persuasive power.
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