MP3 Sermons vs. Your Pastor’s Sermons

The repository of MP3 sermon audio on the Internet is vast and varied and easy to tap. Take your choice between living preachers, dead preachers, close preachers, and preachers on the opposite side of the globe. It doesn’t matter. With a click of the mouse a file rushes into your computer where it can be flushed through a cord into your iPod where it streams into your head through earbuds. Enjoy the thrill of a computer filled with hundreds of hours of audio sermons!

Now think of your pastor. He’s not unaware of this availability; he knows you have been downloading sermons all week as he has invested 20+ hours into preparing his sermon for Sunday. And stack his Sunday message against the Sunday sermons of preaching celebrities X, Y, and Z and there is no comparison.

Or is there?

According to the late Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a man who knew a bit about the art and craft of preaching, MP3 sermons are no match for your pastor’s pulpit. He said:

There is a unity between preacher and hearers and there is a transaction backwards and forwards. That, to me, is true preaching. And that is where you see the essential difference between listening to preaching in a church and listening to a sermon on the television or on the radio. You cannot listen to true preaching in detachment and you must never be in a position where you can turn it off. (Banner of Truth Magazine, Feb 1990)

Good thoughts to consider as we prepp for Sunday worship.

12 thoughts on “MP3 Sermons vs. Your Pastor’s Sermons

  1. Yes. I consume sermons, read them, listen to them, all week long just to learn and grow because I’m voraciously hungry for that. But my pastor’s library is filled with the same names and we share reading recommendations. None of that in any way detracts from the power of sitting under the pulpit in a small congregation and hearing the word of God expounded, the Gospel preached from the entire counsel of God, being fed by and filled with the meat of that – and to be honest, after having come from a church that taught the standard Southern Baptist easy believism, in my very young Christian life I have known no greater gift than that beyond the gift of Christ Himself.

  2. More from MLJ–

    “Broadcasting I fear has discouraged people from coming to the House of God and taught them bad habits. But even more serious is the harm it has done to the people’s idea of the corporate life of the Church. Far too often they think of churches just as places where you sit and listen to a sermon; and now you can get this on the radio or on tapes and so on. So the whole notion of coming together, and sitting together round the Word, and listening to an exposition of it, is seriously damaged. The very facts and statistics demonstrate that during these last fifty years the life of the Church, as such, has deteriorated very seriously.” (Preaching and Preachers, pg. 251)

  3. I’d rather be fed by several big name preachers than my pastor any day of the week no matter what that Lloyd Jones guy is saying.

  4. This is why, as a pastor who also listens to online sermons, I am thankful that there are also a ton of really BAD preachers with MP3 sermons on the ‘net. I try to listen to some of those every once in a while, just to keep from feeling completely lame before I go to preach. (Which will happen, if all I hear are the giants) :)

    For every three celebrity preacher sermons you hear, force yourself to sit through one of these really atrocious dudes, preferably Saturday afternoon sometime.

  5. I think the doctor is right in many ways. But I also think that if you are listening to the right preachers, they will point you to the life of the local church that he is talking about and work to encourage you towards that and not necessarily away from it.

  6. Yes, good thoughts! Thanks Tony.
    I’m not sure if I can express my thoughts succinctly, but I try!

    There are some great preachers available with a few clicks of the mouse or radio/tv dial, but these can NEVER substitute for meeting with our local body of believers as has become the habit of some (maybe many).
    Not that we aren’t free to enjoy other preachers outside the local church, but those brothers/pastors/elders who teach and preach in the local church are by far those who we should esteem first, be “plugged into” each Sunday, be praying for, thanking God for and honoring. No broadcast is or can be a sub for the local body!

    “There is a unity between preacher and hearers and there is a transaction backwards and forwards. That, to me, is true preaching.” Amen.

  7. Great post as usual, Tony.

    With all due respect to Trish, I must side with the doctor and Laurie, especially, on this one. Preachers possessing greater oratorical and pulpit skills than me (i.e. “regular” local church pastor) are as legion as access to them is easy. Such, however, cannot substitute for the “live” worship encounter God causes to happen between pastor and people gathered together on His day.

    There’s nothing like it.

    Those who shun shared, biblical worship for the virtual brand are settling for being sermon tasters w/Baskin Robbins sample spoons when they could feast weekly on home-cooked, Sunday suppers served by the Spirit through His shepherd, seasoned and prepared just for them.

    But as with any meal, you must be present to partake.

  8. Well Ben somehow I have a “live” worship encounters with God when I listen to mp3s of John Piper me and my friends and sometimes he serves up steak and potatoes in bite-sized pieces too.

  9. Amen, Trish! Piper is a gift to the body of Christ. His pastors conference is second to none. And praise the Lord for mp3s, CDs and all the rest.

    Just don’t forsake the meal God has for you to enjoy w/your local church this Sunday – and I’m sure you won’t.

    That’s all I’m saying. I commend you for your love for the word and commitment to Him – and for cultivating like-minded friendships. May you and they continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  10. […] May 27, 2009 by Dan Lowe Tony Reinke over at the Miscellanies blog has a good post regarding whether we should place a priority on listening to downloaded sermons or the sermons of our pastor.  If you are anything like me (who downloads a whole lot of sermons…) this was a good reminder of the importance of listening to the man the Christ has given as my shepherd.  You can find Tony’s post here’s-sermons/ . […]

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