An interesting conversation has been going on in the UU blogosphere starting with Scott Wells at Boy in the Bands, then with Dan Harper at Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, and finally Phil Lund at Phil's Little Blog on the Prairie. All three are UU ministers--Scott Wells works for the Sunlight Foundation; Dan Harper is the Associate Minister for Religious Education at the UU Church of Palo Alto; Phil Lund is on staff at the Prairie Star District of the UUA.
Diving in--the original notion that Scott Wells posted is that in a digital age, the sermon is too long. He writes, "It made sense in a education- and resource-poor (and frankly, entertainment-poor) age, but if I held forth for twenty minutes or more every Sunday, I expect to be regularly challenged (perhaps mentally, and in an unspoken way) by people who would Google for facts during my oratory." Phil Lund echoes this: "Thing one: settling into a cozy pew for an hour or so to listen to a ripping good sermon may once have been considered a relatively inexpensive way to be entertained on a Sunday morning, but nowadays if I want to listen to someone talk about something on Sunday (or any day), all I need to do is logon to the interwebs and visit TED.com…for free."
Scott Wells suggests a different model: "It might make sense for a minister to preach briefly — tightly, eloquently, perhaps around a single point — to the “live congregation” and have it spelled out later in another way. Not print necessarily, but perhaps a podcast or video, or forgoing these perhaps a live event more in common with an interview or discussion than fighting with hymns and prayers for attention." Dan Harper spells out some concrete steps he's proposing in response: posting a reading on a sermon blog on Thursday; on Sunday before worship post the text of the sermon, along with links; give a hashtag for twitter conversation for during and after worship; stream the worship service live; continue conversation after on the blog. Phil Lund shares these thoughts and suggests turning the sermon inside-out, a process he promises to describe soon in an upcoming post.
That's all by way of background. I'll post my response soon, as well.
*amended 8:31pm 7/8/11 to reflect Harper's title correctly. Sorry!