Steve at “From the Pew” considers a very important topic in his post “The Sermon-Centered Life.” He wants to know why the sermon is considered central to many Christians traditions. For example, he says:
Preaching is scriptural. The sermon may have developed more as a tradition than not, but a tradition that isn’t forbidden is fine. I’m fine with sermons and preaching. But what I’m trying to get at is why it’s often so central, so much more important than all other things in the church, so often exclusionary of other things. Many times I have found myself thinking, “Gee, I’m a bit late to church for whatever reason, but at least I didn’t miss the sermon.” If the sermon goes late, sometimes other activities can be cut short for the sake of preaching. People don’t often ask how the praying or singing or offering went, they ask how the sermon went. We often make recordings of only the sermon. To many, the sermon is the most important thing in church, and even the thing around which all other Christian life is lived. It can solve our problems like nothing else. It can make or break the reputation of a pastor.
I think Steve may have inadvertantly touched on one reason that the sermon is central for many churches and many traditions: because the pastor is central. And what does a pastor do? Most would say that a pastor preaches. In fact, in many Southern Baptist churches, pastor and preacher are synonymous.
As Steve points out, you can find preaching – proclaiming the gospel to unbelievers – in Scripture. Of course, that’s not what we call “preaching” today, but it is what Scripture calls “preaching.”
So, we should ask ourselves why the sermon is central is so many churches today. We should also ask, if the sermon is not central is Scripture, then what has the sermon replaced… and why?