Friday, May 25, 2007

Self-Improvement Sermons

I’ve grown quite intolerant of self-improvement sermons.

You know the ones I mean. They are the “How To” sermons. “How to” be a better spouse, “how to” be more loving, “how to” pray, “how to” be this, “how to” do that. The topics are infinite.

The sermons usually contain 3-5 bullet points. In the more clever sermons, the bullet points all have key words that begin with the same letter. Or the first letters of the main points form an acrostic. Each point has appropriate Bible passages to back it up.

“How to” sermons are most common in the mega-churches. So I’m guessing this is what the majority of Christians are looking for - practical ways to improve themselves and their lives.

I guess this can be beneficial, as long as the Gospel doesn’t get lost in the process. But it’s been my experience that the Gospel does get lost. So at the end of the sermon I am left with one more program to carry out. One more set of items to add to my already long “to do” list. One more area of my life to work on fixing in the coming week. One more burden on my back. It’s like the pastor is saying, “Here. Carry this burden. It’ll do you good - make you a better, stronger Christian. There’s more where that came from. I’ll have another one for you next week.”

I sometimes look around at all the other faces in the pews and wonder, “What are they thinking?” Do they really think they can do all this stuff? Does that guy up front think that he can do it? Am I missing something? Is the Christian faith just one big complicated self-improvement program - a long “to do” list of ways to make myself a better person?

Call me old-fashioned. Or maybe just old. But I can’t buy what the self-improvement folks are selling.

It’s not that my self doesn’t need improving. It’s just that I have a radically different view of self-improvement.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

What would an ideal sermon look like in your world? Is there room for application or should that be left to the Holy Spirit on the ride home?