The Efficiency Of Sermons -- By: A. William Lewis

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 083:331 (Jul 1926)
Article: The Efficiency Of Sermons
Author: A. William Lewis

The Efficiency Of Sermons

A. W. Lewis

The leaders in our Churches have a right to ask, “Are we getting anywhere?” Sermons are being preached in America by the hundreds of thousands. What is being accomplished by this time-honored practice? Are sermons out of date? Can modern times give us anything more effective? The auto has superseded the horse and buggy. The locomotive has superseded the prairie schooner. Has anything superseded the sermon? Is there anything better in the Sunday services of the Church of Christ?

Many things have been tried in the hope that they might improve upon the sermon. Churches have tried the stere-opticon and the moving picture machine. Sunday forums serve as a special purpose in large cities. Pageants and dramas and story monologues have been introduced with temporary success. But very few are rash enough to say that any of these, and indeed all of these, can ever take the place of the sermon for the Sunday morning service in the estimation of the great majority of worshippers.

It is not without cause that many speak and write about “the foolishness of preaching.” Neither is it a new thing. Yet history has proved beyond all honest doubt that preaching has done more to spread the Gospel of Christ than all other methods; and the nations that to-day are the most advanced in the demonstration of Christianity are the nations in which the sermon has played the leading role. Milk is for babes and there is proper use for a large quantity; but maturity of mind and spiritual life demands the strong meat of masterly sermons.

The ideal of the Church, possible of realization, is to make sermons so effective that they can never be properly styled “foolish.” The very best possible thing on earth may be thought foolish by imbeciles and morons and men so obsessed with materialism that they cannot appreciate the higher things of human life. Music at its best may

be thought mere noise by those devoid of an ear for music. Thus we should never be disturbed by the criticism of those not fitted to appreciate the high aims of the sermon. The World has said in every century since Jesus preached His Sermon on The Mount that the Church is dying or even dead. A sermon may not appeal to a philosopher; but the question is, Does the sermon appeal to manhood and womanhood? Does it reach the great majority?

The efficiency of the sermon depends to a great extent upon the material conditions under which it is delivered. Churches must be well ventilated and moderately warmed. The audience must be comfortable. The audience must be able to hear the preacher easily. The spiritual atmosphere of the Church must be favorable. Each of these po...

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