Monday, September 13, 2010

Sermon Sabotage

In our congregation, we preach systematically through books of the Bible, so that in the morning at present we're working our way through Mark's Gospel (or at least, a section of it); the evenings are working through Exodus 20 and The Ten Commandments. It means that it's easy to know what's coming next, because it's where you left off the week before; and there is no avoidance or evasion of the 'tough' passages or verses.

Difficult topics (e.g. marriage, divorce, the Christian freedom, the end times) can be addressed without individuals feeling that you've picked that topic just this week to deal with them. The issues that Scripture raises are the issues we preach, as the books present them.

Not all churches preach systematic continuous exposition of the text though. Some use the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), which gives you the passage each week depending on the particular Sunday of the church's year. It generally works through most of the Gospels (although not every passage), and some of the rest of the Bible once every three years.

This past week, I had noticed a tremendous explosion in my blog visitor stats, and couldn't work it out at first. Normally, the blog gets about 50-60 page loads per day. Small fry, you might think, but that's plenty. Yet take a look at this extract of my stats from 24th August through to today (this morning, which is why there aren't so many for today yet):

Fairly steady right through until 7th September (last Monday). A jump from 52 on the Sunday to 145 on Monday, soaring to 275 on Saturday past. These are the Statcounter stats - the Blogger hosted stats that accompany the blog now were even higher. And you know what the top search term for visitors from Google was?

luke 15:1-10
sermons on luke 15:1-10
luke 15:1-10 sermon
sermon luke 15:1-10

Are you seeing the pattern here? Blogger reckons there were 805 pageviews of my recent sermon from Luke 15:1-10, which just happened to be the passage for yesterday in the RCL. That sermon was (and still is) on the first page of Google for the above searches, helping the exposure, but massively inflating the blog views for this month. So just how many ministers get their sermons off the internet? Or at least take their ideas from the internet?

Is there a market for having sermons ready a week before they're preached in the RCL? Perhaps some enterprising minister could shift to observing the RCL a week in advance, and offering the sermons online for a small donation? In our case, it just so happens that occasionally, we're almost overlapping, but not always.

So what's up next Sunday in the RCL? I wonder if I've something appropriate to share on the internet...


  1. Its great to hear of a church that teaches the word of god systematically instead of picking passages here and there avoiding what is hard to understand. My last church taught systematically also unfortunately i left as they where hyper-calvinist and have not attended anywhere else regularly.

  2. Cabby, you're very welcome to join us any Sunday morning or evening (10.30 and 6.30) if you're near to Dundonald.

  3. I will bear that in mind thank you.
    I must admit I find it a bit strange in churches where they sing hymns instead of psalms but that's just me!!

  4. Mornin Gary, For what it's worth, I tend to only look at someone else's work after I read around the topic and had a go myself. Mainly to make sure I've interpreted it properly and that I'm not going to make some awful gaffe about what I say. If I do happen to mention what I've read I always qualify by saying where I read it and the author if relevant. I would value this precisely for the most difficult, (well difficult meaning it may not be what we want to hear), stuff. Enjoying your blog as always. MrsMcF

  5. Hi gary, nice blog & good post. overall You have beautifully maintained it, you must submit your site for free in this website which really helps to increase your traffic. hope u have a wonderful day & awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!