After visiting a church-plant here in Wisconsin, sadly, my wife and I left thinking, “where was the preaching?” What the pastor did could really only be called, “sharing.”
Granted, I was distracted by the fact that his voice sounded like Robin Williams’ (read humor here, not an attack — I’m glad my scratchy voice gets used by God), but beyond that minor matter, the sermon was virtually void of both content and passion, a difficult combination for the “awakeness” of the hearers, especially since the lights in the room were already dimmed to a point that made reading the text from my Bible an almost impossibility.
How ironic, that in his desire to alleviate boredom by avoiding preaching, the drone of his conversation about virtually nothing began to put me to sleep. Now granted, I’m not a seeker (I’ve been found already), and as such, I have an appetite for steak, not milk with moldy “floaties” comprised of catch-phrases and crusty anecdotes. However, since milk is necessary for babies and meat for those growing, a good sermon should have something for the youngest Christian as well as something for the oldest, most mature. We must remember that the purpose of a church service is not to accommodate the whims of the lost; it’s to edify and build up the saints for the glory of God! Quite frankly, church-growth methods intended to be entertaining and relevant, such as jam sessions and “sharing,” simply put me to sleep. They bore me. Why? Because they are irrelevant. Completely and totally.
That’s my major concern with the 10 evangelical churches that I’ve visited this last year. While their entertainers entertain, their pastors do not preach. The “preaching” is not preaching. Sermonization has been replaced by a conversation that could be found on the back of a Christian cereal box (if such a thing existed). This church philosophy has no ability to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, to assist them in their pursuit of Christ-likeness, or to help them solve life’s issues and problems.
Having pondered that church meeting for several weeks now, I stumbled upon this quote from DA Carson in The Cross and Christian Ministry,
Many preachers, afraid of being thought arrogant, avoid talking about preaching. They prefer to think of what they do as ‘sharing.’ In some limited contexts, doubtless there is nothing wrong with ‘sharing.’ But something important is lost if we never speak or think of preaching and proclamation. That is our job, our calling. It is not arrogant to re-present as forcefully as we can God’s gospel; it is simply faithful stewardship. Further, if we focus on the powerful proclamation of the gospel, we shall be less likely to be seduced by siren calls to soften the sheer non-negotiability inherant in preaching.