Here’s a small portion of an interview I found a while back. Mike Breen is a pastor who developed the LifeShapes material for spiritual growth, and it’s well worth checking out the ideas if you’re a church leader and haven’t heard of them before. I was interested in this little bit for what it said about preaching and discipleship though.
Aidan: I’ve heard you say before not to teach LifeShapes in a sermon series. Why do you feel so strongly about that?
Mike: From my personal experience and watching other pastors, I’ve seen that if you do a sermon series with it or teach it all the time, people naturally categorize it as more information to be forgotten. Unfortunately, people rarely remember what we say in a sermon. I think they say the average person can remember most of the points from one sermon a year. The point is that this isn’t random information from scripture, this is spiritual formation language and is meant to be used, not stored.
I’ve found it much more helpful to introduce it in Huddles, which is a discipling context with 4-10 people. As people are discussing about what God is saying to them and you give them an insight to their specific situation, they respond, “How were you able to apply that particular truth?” As we know, Truth sets us free, but we then want to know how we can set other people free! “Teach me to do that!”
For too long we’ve seen, sometimes foolishly, I think, discipleship as the impartation or reception of information rather than what scripture and the great saints of our history have said it was: Imitation of someone’s life.
So principally, LifeShapes were made to fulfill the principle design of Jesus: Discipleship.
What’s been your experience of sermons? Do you think they’re effective? What have you found to be some good alternatives?
(If you want to read the whole interview, you’ll find it here…