why Sunday Sermons are necessary but not sufficient


The statement is not: why the Word of God is necessary but not sufficient nor why Jesus Christ is necessary but not sufficient? That would be heretical and not in-line with the biblical text.  The Bible is clear; Jesus and the Bible are sufficient in themselves. Jesus is the sufficient Savior.[1] And the Bible is the sufficient revelation for knowledge of God’s saving plan for humanity and spiritual truth for living.[2]

The statement is: why Sunday sermons are necessary but not sufficient. This still might sound heretical or hazardously mischievous to some. It is not that Sunday sermons are not valuable or important. The preaching of the Word of God is extremely important. Jesus preached,[3] His followers preached,[4] and you are called to preach the gospel too.[5] God places a priority on preaching in His church. However, Sunday sermons standing alone are not sufficient for spiritual growth in the church.

Why are Sunday sermons necessary?

First, God commands the Word to be preached. How will anyone hear the Word of God unless it is preached? [Romans 10:14-16] Second, the faith of God’s people comes in conjunction with the preaching of His Word. [Romans 10:17] Third, hearing the Word encourages doing the Word [James 1:19-25]. An hour-long Sunday sermon that does not affect the other 167 hours in your week is wasted stewardship of the Word.

Why are Sunday sermons are not sufficient?

First, hearing the Word does not mean there is an application or reproduction of the Word [cf. Matthew 23:3]. Second, preaching the Word must be followed up with intensive and active discipleship. Third, the role of the sermon giver is also trainer and discipler, which involve more than preaching, but exemplifying the message and mentoring the hearers to live the message too. A pastor who simply preaches or teacher who just teaches is missing a key component with their message: multiplication of messengers and ultimately Christ worshipers [note: 3 types of pastors and churches].[6]

Pastor as Clergyman Pastor as CEO Pastor as Trainer
Pastor is… Preacher and service-provider Preacher and manager Preacher and trainer
Sunday is… Service of worship Attractional meeting Gathering of worshiping disciples with their Lord
Outside of Sunday… Occasional services Range of events and programs Disciples reaching out to make disciples
Pastoral care through… Counseling and visitation Small groups People ministering to people
Church is like… A small corner store with one employee A department store with numerous staff A team with an active captain-coach
Tends to result in… Consumers in maintenance mode Consumers in growth mode Disciples in mission mode

How can you maximize the Sunday sermons Monday through Saturday?

First, seek to apply the big idea of the sermon to your marriage, parenting, work, school or daily living. Prayerfully, practically and purposely apply the sermon. Second, gather together with your churches small group to discuss the sermon and minister to one another by applying the Sunday sermon [cf. Acts 2:42-47].  Stir up and serve one another through the preached Word.[7] Third, share what you learn from the sermon with someone who does not go to your church. When it comes to Sunday sermons: Listen up. Soak it up. Live it up. Step it up. Love the Word. Speak the Word. Live the Word. Spread the Word.


[1] Cf. Hebrews 1-10; Colossians 1:15-22; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-13; Philippians 2:6-11; 2 Timothy 1:8-10

[2] The New Testament writers constantly appealed to the scriptures as their base of authority in declaring what was and was not true biblical teaching:  Matthew 21:42; John 2:22; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 1 Peter 1:10-12; 2:2; 2 Peter 1:17-19, cf. Acts 17:11, Matthew 4 where Jesus uses the Scripture to defend the temptations from the devil.

[3] Cf. Matthew 4:17, 11:5; Mark 2:2; Ephesians 2:17

[4] Cf. Acts 5:42, 14:7; Romans 1:15, 15:20; 1 Corinthians 1:23, 9:16-17, 15:11-14; 2 Corinthians 10:16; Galatians 1:11-17; Ephesians 3:7-13; Philippians 1:15-18; Titus 1:3

[5] Cf. Romans 10:14-15; 1 Timothy 5:17; 2 Timothy 1:11-14,  4:2

[6] Chart is adapted from The Trellis and the Vine, by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, Mathias Media, Kingsford, Australia, 2009. pg.101.

[7] Cf. Hebrews 10:23-25; Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12

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