So I think it's right to make the effort each week to listen humbly (and to yearn/pray/work for a day when it's not such an effort) [to their pastor's preaching]. But I'm not convinced that all the blame lies with the listeners rather than the speakers (pace Christopher Ash) [for listening to big guys online].
So I hope that at some stage we can also have honest discussions about the quality of preaching in Australian evangelicalism — not just about our intention or our trying hard to deliver good sermons, but whether we actually achieve it. Sure, preaching elsewhere in the world has its problems (e.g. some preaching I've heard outside Australia has made only passing reference to the Bible). These are serious problems. But we're not responsible for those. I'd love for us to admit that we've got our own serious problems that we are responsible for. (That is, if my assessment's right. I'd be delighted to be shown that it's not!)
I'm not sure I agree. A few points.
1. Yes. Many sermons suck. Many preachers habitually write and deliver very poor sermons. The exegesis is not insightful or even thorough. The writing is illogical and wandery. The language is dull dull dull. The application is predictable and the overall effect is sleep inducing.
2. Most pastors don't naturally have the personality to hold a congregation's attention for any length of time. With careful training, experience and continued hard hard hard work, many can learn to do it anyway. (I'm currently reading this book which I think should be required reading for everyone who ever stands up in a pulpit.) Some will always struggle.
3. Most of the big guy online preachers that the masses are drawn to are just natural communicators and inspirers. They could have been stand up comics or company directors or cult leaders or military dictators. They love the limelight. The come alive on stage. Some of them teach the bible as well. Bully for them, but don't imagine that is normal in any way.
4. I suspect a lot of people listen to online sermons for a buzz. You want something to shake you out of your mid-life christian stupor. You want to recreate some definitive christian experience from your past - maybe a uni camp or something. There's nothing wrong with this, but the harder gig is obedience when there's no buzz.
5. I suspect a lot of people just listen to sermons because they like noise. It's not about any inadequacy in church preaching, it's just the christian equivalent to listening to the radio. I'm an extravert. I like to hear voices around me and hearing John Piper is more edifying than SeaFM.