Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Sermon Jams

Relevant Revolution has set up a website full of "sermon jams"--audio sermons that have sound tracks laid down with them to provide easier access to a younger generation.

The purpose statement of Relevant Revolution says:
This ministry is designed to provide a medium which tactfully delivers biblical sermons that are relevant for the current generation. Our desire is to promote a reverence and passion for the supremacy of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom and our focus is on the foundational truths of the Christian faith. We emphasize unity on the essentials truths, liberty on the non-essentials and love in everything. We also believe strongly in the idea that unity does not equal uniformity because there is diversity in the Kingdom of Christ. The verse we have picked to represent this ministry is Romans 10:14 which states "But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?"
I have listened to a couple of the offerings and think these guys are probably on to something that could be very useful in evangelizing teenagers and young adults. I can assure you this, you have never heard Alistair Begg, John Piper, S.M. Lockridge or Ravi Zacharias sound like this before!

There are other resources on the website that I would not necessarily recommend, but if you can download a few sermon jams by the guys above and get them on a young person's ipod, you will have done a good thing in helping to gain a hearing for the Word of God among some who otherwise might never listen to a recorded sermon.


Jared Moore said...

I have a hard time in understanding where to draw the line concerning what is acceptable pragmatism and what is unacceptable. My question is: If this is acceptable, does the statement "What you use to save them, you must use to keep them." still hold true concerning these "sermon jams". Will I have to practice my sermons with a beat box or DJ in the background for every single message I preach in order to keep the generation raised on this mentality... because it's only a matter of time before pastors spring up who do this? How is this reconcilable with the responsibility of the hearer to listen to and submit to God's Word simply because it's God's Word?

From what I've seen, pragmatism actually produces the opposite of what it's intended to produce. It produces shallow Christians... and I don't believe the answer is more pragmatism... I believe the answer is depending on God's Word, God's Sovereignty, and God the Holy Spirit. We must be active in sharing the Gospel; however, we mustn't seek to make it more acceptable... though I don't believe this is what you're saying either.

Is this different from Bobby Welch's 1 million baptisms goal? Are these sermon jams trying to produce something similar to Bobby Welch's statements... things that only God can produce. Can these jams make these youth really listen to the Word of God? Can these jams make the hearers love the Word of God or heed the Word of God? Though I don't believe this is what you're saying... I'm curious as to how this is acceptable and Bobby Welch's statements aren't.

I have a very deep respect for you... you have helped me to see how 3 pointers and 5 pointers can co-exist in the SBC. I would love to have you as my co-pastor or if you would simply let me carry your bible around. However, at this point, I must lovingly disagree with your acceptance of these "sermon jams"; however, I'm open to your correction.

In Him,

Jared Moore

joethorn.net said...

I listened to four of these sermons today. Let me say on the front end I do not have a problem with packaging portions of sermons this way (which is what these things are, portions of sermons). They are powerful thoughts coupled with an additional audio aesthetic that some may find complementary to what is being said. Others will find the music distracting.

Personally, I thought it was ok. Fun. Interesting. I think something better could be done with the music. This is limited to a more hip-hop flavor, and I think they could branch out to some ambient music, or other forms, that would cross even more cultural barriers.

This is essentially the same thing as adding a score to a scene in a movie. It can impact how we receive something.

Tom is not operating out of an empty principle of pragmatism; "if it works use it." I think he is simply pointing out that some of the uninterested, younger generations would tune out of a an audio sermon after 2 minutes. But the soundtrack and the specific sermon soundbites can work together to arrest one's attention and drive a simple point home.

This is altogether different from Welch's Million Man Dunk, for that was an emphasis and program to baptize large numbers. Sermon Jams centers around more of an aesthetic issue, not a biblical one.

irreverend fox said...

sounds like a slippery slope...better play it safe and not give Satan a foothold...

just kidding...I'm working with a very talented guy who is going to put my sermons to music...I think it is a great thing...but not for everybody...and like a good emerging Calvinist I say...that's ok.

Bryant King said...

Thanks for the link Tom. I bookmarked that website. I really enjoyed listening to several of those today. For frame of reference, I am 31 years old, and this form of "Christian art" appealed to me. Unfortunately, that may be a bad indicator if the hope is to appeal to youth;)

One nice thing about these tracks is that it was much easier to "rewind and relisten" when I was pulled away by necessary distractions at my secular job. I could not have as easily done that with a recorded sermon or even a book.

I suspect Tom was just throwing this out there as a novel form of Christian art which some of us might enjoy, or we may know others who would enjoy it. If so, you hit the mark here.

Art is subjective. The truth of Christ is objective. But I love when the objective truth of Christ can be incorporated into a subjective art form which I find enjoyable.

Those sermon jams didn't replace my desire to sit in church with my family and listen to a sermon, nor did they replace Bible reading, or other important reading. And they won't replace some other Christian music which I enjoy listening to, but they were enjoyable and edifying and I would likely play them when I would otherwise listen to music.

Others can now feel free to fire away at my lack of understanding, but please play nice.

Bryant King

Tom said...


I am not advocating that we rap our sermons or change our worship to fit any and every cultural whim. I just thought what these guys were attempting had some merit evangelistically. Joe expressed my views quite well, actualy--thanks Joe!

I am traveling and won't have much time to interact with comments, but I appreciate your willingness to engage. Thanks, brother!


Steve said...

I kinda liked it. I'm a 32 year old pastor of 7 years. There is a simillarity between this and how an organ, bass, or other instruments are played during the sermon in some black churches. I side with this being more artistic than pragmatic. Nothing wrong with that. I certainly want a preacher to be more artistic in speech than to preach at me in a drone. Assuming the content is equal, I would rather hear Alastair preach simply because of his accent.
Steve-- www.millervillage.wordpress.com

Steve said...

...will add one more comment: The sound track under the Bible reading didn't work for me. I'm not against the concept. I've heard dramatized Scripture reading with a soundtrack before that was beautiful and moving, but this just didn't mesh well.

Steve-- www.millervillage.wordpress.com

hisbygrace said...

I'm new here, but this raises some questions for me:

How does this idea fit into the regulative principle of worship?

Is it the Holy Spirit who applies the message to the heart, or the method?

SBC Calvinists have decried the lack of emphasis on the sufficiency of Scripture from those who fought the "battle for the Bible" ie: the inerrancy and infallibility, but relying on "methods" rather than the sufficiency of Scripture.
Isn't this buying into that very thing? And how does that fit into the principle of sola scriptura?

Not trying to pick a fight, just trying to pick the brains on this forum :)

Tom said...


Good question. The RP relates to worship. I would not advocate using "sermon jams" in worship in order to "enhance" preaching.

Sorry for the short answer. Hopefully others will give you more thoughtful and insightful responses.


deacon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
D.J. said...

Long time reader, first time poster...
With a title like "sermon jams" and a website called "Relevant Revolution," the cynic in me was preparing to read Dr. Ascol tear into some fluffy content that downplays the power of the gospel. Yet after reading his recommendation, I listened to several of these clips and was pleasantly suprised. I downloaded about 15 of the messages by Piper, Begg, Zacharias, Evans, and Lockridge, and put them on a CD. Most of my driving is short trips around town, so listening to full-blown sermons in the car is problematic (though I treasure it when I have the opportunity). Listening to these shorter clips with some well-made music (to each his own, I'm 24 and did in fact like the music) has been a great encouragement to me as I drive. Also, as a youth minister, I'm always looking for good Christian music to play on Wednesday nights, and with the loads of junk that are out there, this is some great stuff. My wife and I had the same response to the jams - we didn't think it would blend well, but it actually works nicely. You actually notice just how rythmic some preaching (esp. Piper) is! Soli Deo Gloria!

wilmheath said...

I grew up with the guy that made sermon jams and he is an awesome guy with a huge heart that would like to reach people that were as lost as he was at one time. I read a lot of the negative replies and couldn't believe how people could take something good that someone is doing and only focus on the bad. Jesus was revolutionary when he came on the scene and we should not be so negative to different methods of preaching the word as long as they do not conflict with the Bible. Why sit here and argue about it when it is reaching people and helping them walk with God. Lets quit over-analyzing every single thing and help support sites like Sermon Jams that are spreading the word. If we put as much effort into spreading the word as we did arguing about theology and if something is "acceptable pragmatism" who knows... someone might actually get to know Christ. Anyways just my 2 cents and please excuse me if I came off rude or big headed.

Tom said...


Thanks for your comment and welcome! Don't be put off by the critical concerns expressed here by some brothers. That is actually a good sign, because it shows that they are concerned about the Lord's honor and glory and don't want anything to detract from it. This kind of thing is an intramural debate and can be good for all involved if we handle it properly.

Again, thanks for you comment. May the Lord richly bless your life and ministry.

Mike said...


lil'Gracie said...

Dear Founders,

I've also come across some very good ones...



Enjoy! Thanks for all you guys do for Christ!

Jonathan Chambers