I spent some time today listening to some sermons from other churches. Many talked about how their churches were struggling. Some talked about social justice, while others had great video producing skills. Many were very polished and had awesome technologies to make their services pop… However, I was really sad at what I heard.
With all of the technology, all of the new philosophies and church growth strategies… With all of the leadership principles and professional worship bands, we have lost one major thing.
We have lost the art of preaching God’s Word. Sermon after sermon, message after message, I heard the same thing. I heard man’s wisdom sprinkled with God’s Truth.
Why are our churches in decline? Why are we so broken and not filled with His true power and joy? It is because our peaching is backwards. Lets contrast the two…
Today their is a new philosophical/self-help preacher. He strives to have a masters degree in psychology and/or sociology. And what he does, is he takes a problem or specific topic that he wants to address, and he will come up with some great ideas and concepts about what he wants to say about it. Then he will go and find some illustrations, videos, or maybe even a testimony to help persuade the listeners of the idea he wants to portray. Finally, he goes and seeks out some scriptures that seem to agree with everything he has wanted to say in order to give his wisdom authority. In short, he sprinkles the Word of God on top of his own concepts and ideas to give them authority.
You can know this style because if you remove the scriptures from the lecture, it still makes sense.
Can I ask you something? How would you like it if someone recorded an interview with you on an important topic and they gave an entire speech about that topic only to share a few random sentences that you gave them to the crowd? And how mad would you be if after all of the talking that they did, they claimed that you were the one they got all the information from? Do you know what that makes you? A tool. And that is what this new type of preaching has become. It has turned God into a voiceless and powerless puppet.
Now compare that to how we are called to preach the Word. A pastor is suppose to go to God and be led by the Holy Spirit to a passage of Scripture. And once he finds it, he spends the next week in prayer and study of that passage. And in unity with the Spirit, the Holy Spirit begins to move on that pastor as he submits to the Spirit’s leading. That passage becomes the primary focus of the message. And the pastor brings out a fresh and living Word from the logos (Word of God) coming out from those pages.
And after God communicates the depth and the glory found within that chunk of scripture, the pastor then fills the small remaining spaces with application, supplication, and even an illustration to make sure that everyone in the room has been able to hear the message that God wanted to give His people that day.
In this style, there is no way the message would make sense without the scripture because almost every sentence is geared toward fleshing out the knowledge found within it.
What is the difference between these two styles? One starts with man’s wisdom and adds God’s truth to give that wisdom authority while the other shares God’s message and sprinkles on some of man’s wisdom to help the people to grasp it better.
Why is reformation and reform coming? Because philosophical preaching does not bring life and people are beginning to figure that out. The goal of preaching is not for us to become better people. The goal of preaching has always been about learning more about our holy God and giving Him glory. And by doing so, we become better people.
So which is it? Is the Living Word of God the main course of the sermons you hear or is it just a light sprinkling over the top of the pastor’s wisdom? I will give you one guess as to which one is better at transforming the heart…