Previews Are For Movies, Not Church…or To Publish Sermon Titles or Not Publish Sermon Titles pt. 2

The conversation is continuing on whether or not its a good idea/practice to publish sermon titles/topics/themes. The most recent comments are on the Ten Minutes or Less blog. I’ve been reading the comments with interest, mainly because I’m still trying to not let my judgemental side go completely biserk and write a rant that would cause me to lose all my friends. Plus, some people I really respect think it’s a good idea, so I’m more inclined to stay a part of the debate. But I have to tell ya…it’s becoming harder and harder to do.

So while I was reading the comments a little while ago…it came to me…of course lots of UUs are for publishing sermon titles…upper-middle and upper class educated people always want to know the title of the lecture they are attending…whether it’s at the local church or the art museum or college.

This, my friends, is a class issue.

But this is also about programming, and that’s something I hadn’t really given as much attention to as I should have. Yeah…I’ve talked about the fact that if you look at the churches that are really growing, one common denominator is that they have lots of MINISTRIES. What I haven’t really talked about is the fact that these churches offer something BEYOND Sunday. They are, to steal the title of Lyle Schaller’s book, Seven-Day-A-Week churches.

So…if all you have is Sunday; which, let’s be honest, is what the vast majority of UU churches have…the debate is going to be about whether or not to publish sermon titles/topics/themes. If….I repeat IF…more UU churches were seven-day-a-week places… if…I repeat IF…more UU churches offered programs for EVERYBODY (not just those who are looking for religious education for their children)…if…I repeat IF…more UU churches presented themselves as vibrant and welcoming places who really wanted all different kinds of people to be a part of them…then publishing sermon titles would be unnecessary…your fruit would be visible to the outside world.

5 thoughts on “Previews Are For Movies, Not Church…or To Publish Sermon Titles or Not Publish Sermon Titles pt. 2

  1. Pingback: Previews Are For Movies, Not Church…or To Publish Sermon Titles or … | Feed-O-Matic

  2. Maybe this is a stupid question, but don’t most of the churches you cited previously preach from a lectionary? If so, don’t those attending the service have a pretty good idea of what the sermon is about without a title? I ask because in my Presbyterian youth, my dad liked to explain his own views of the week’s biblical passages on the way to church*, whether or not my brothers and I would be attending the service.

    I’m still not seeing why UU Dads should be denied the chance to do something that clearly gave my father so much joy. Maybe the ideal is to have a UU lectionary that those wishing to know what is happening on Sunday can use to look it up while not publishing the sermon titles to spoil the surprise for those who do not want to know. I don’t think our polity would really allow for that, but it would solve the issue at hand.

    That said, my problem with most of the sermon titles on the “Ten minutes or less” page isn’t that they were published, but that they suck.

    who was at her church five days of the last week and does not want to have been there seven.

    *He was a big Tillich fan, so his views and the ministers’ did not always align

    • CC-
      In the list of churches that I gave in the previous post, none of them use the lectionary. If any of them were going to do it, it would most likely be Trinity because a number of UCC churches do.
      But, for the most part, black churches don’t do the lectionary–even those black churches that are a part of white denominations like the UCC-United Methodist-Disciples. Of course, in denominations where there is no choice–Presbyterian of all stripes or the Lutherans of most stripes–there are so few African Americans in those denominations that I can’t speak to how those black churches act. And I would have to ask my black Episcopalian friends how their churches do it–because I’ve heard a wide range of styles there.

      Five days in a seven day week is a lot. What I’m talking about though is people seeing the church as more than just a Sunday morning place. And having programming that lets people explore all parts of their life in a central place. That’s why I’m really big on the mega-churches. They do the social-spiritual-physical spectrum in a way that should be emulated by liberal religious folk.

  3. Admittedly, last week was an unusually church-filled week that included a fundraiser on Saturday that I am an active participant in putting together. I feel like I get taste of the “seven-day-a-week” church when I am working on a big project with a bunch of my fellow congregants. We’re there a lot, we bond, we work together to do something good. I like it in the doses that I get it, but I don’t long for more. This week I will probably be there twice and that’s plenty.

    I’m not so big on the mega-churches and in general am skeptical of the “it works for mega-churches, it can work for us” line of thinking. While I realize that “too small to have decent programming” is a big problem at the other extreme, I used to work for Mormons and am leery of the “Well, if we don’t show up to the Thursday-night-whatever, our friends will wonder where we are” mentality that making the church the center of your life can have. Yes Mormonism has a lot of members, but I don’t want or need the level of conformity that can breed and I like having friends who aren’t UUs.

    My impression has been that most churches sort of split the difference, with covenant groups, committee meetings and other truly optional activities weekday evenings and non-Sunday daytime programming that welcomes all but seems philosophically aimed at older people. Given that older people have a lot more free time during the day and tend to socially cocoon, this seems reasonable to me. And if an unemployed younger person is lonely and wants to be at church every day, they could do worse than to glean some wisdom from their elders at book club or go to a workshop on updating their living will.

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