When it comes to sermons, people (especially preachers) tend to apply alot of “God-language” to them. But, in reality, all of the language about the centrality of Scripture or the work of the Holy Spirit through both preparation and delivery are not specific to sermons or lectures. The same is true of other types of speaking/teaching.
But, there is one thing that surveys and tests have consistently shown: people learn and understand less from lecture (sermon) than from other forms of teaching.
For example, Scot McKnight at “Jesus Creed” published excerpts from one such report in his post “Professors: What about lectures?” Here is the final paragraph (but make sure you read all of the excerpts):
When Mazur speaks to audiences on pedagogy, he asks his listeners to think about something they are really good at—perhaps some skill they are proud of, especially one that advanced their career. “Now, think of how you became good at it,” he says next. Audience members, supplied with wireless clickers, can choose from several alternatives: trial and error, apprenticeship, lectures, family and friends, practicing. Data from thousands of subjects make “two things stand out,” Mazur says. “The first is that there is a huge spike at practicing—around 60 percent of the people select ‘practicing.’” The other thing is that for many audiences, which often number in the hundreds, “there is absolutely zero percent for lectures. Nobody cites lectures.”
If our goal is to help people follow Jesus as his disciples, that means helping them do the things that Jesus commanded… not just know what he commanded, but do what he commanded. (Matthew 28:19-20)
If this research is true and if people rarely learn to do through lecture, why do we continue to put so much focus on lecture in the church (the sermon)? (By the way, before you answer, “Because Scripture says, ‘Preach the word…’,” make sure to look into what the authors of Scripture meant by the term “preach.”)