Nothing puts more perspective on all the time spent on sermons, like looking at a Thursday afternoon collection of trends on Google/Trends. (http://tinyurl.com/kjnwka)
Don’t believe me?
Go check for yourself.
Compare, something like, “sermon” or “prayer” or “church,” with someone like Justin Bieber.
“Sermon” doesn’t come out so good; although for good or ill “church” does seem to have a longer forecast than a certain singer.
(If you haven’t played around with this data yourself; I would encourage you to. Particularly, if you’re interested in finding that heavenly note of relevancy, which is often elusive in many sermons, I’ve heard over the years.)
My point: back in my parish church days I spent hours writing sermons that, it seems, the world is not really looking to hear. If Google is a representation of our great cultural imagination, then sermons are not going to carry the day.
However, I do suspect that hidden in this ocean of data, is also something very profound about what it means to be human. Humanity is incredibly complex, and, increasingly we have the data to show that complexity.
Preaching into this new world takes guts, but also it takes fresh eyes to see what is happening in the world today. Google has offered us preachers a way to see the world, the whole global world, with new eyes.
Here’s my take away: I believe strongly that learning to read and understand information like this, is essential for having and finding meaningful things to say to this brave new world. People drown in data and they need people of faith and calling to help them learn to swim.
So, dear reader, how has this data changed your view? What new insights have you gained?