For Valentines’ Day, Hannah and I tried a new restaurant. It looked like a fancy restaurant, and the online reviews were overwhelmingly positive. The waiters were well dressed and the interior of the restaurant was impressive.
But the food was, well, puny. Our portions were small, and the flavor was weak.
I left the restaurant that night disappointed and still hungry.
Yesterday (Sunday) there were a lot of people in America who went to church, but left hungry.
Of course, many knew they weren’t going to be fed much. Maybe they had been to that particular church before, and kept coming back. They were allured by the reviews, enticed by the atmosphere, and didn’t mind paying the price. To them, church isn’t a place to be fed; it’s a place to experience. Yet, they still left hungry.
Others came with big expectations, but left disappointed. They expected good flavor, but got something bland. They came hungry, but were only given a small portion. They did not get their fill of the meat of God’s Word. They left hungry.
For people to “grow up into salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2), they need to be fed the Truth of God’s Word. God must speak to them through the Scriptures. But how can God speak to people when preachers…
…only preach against sin in broad generalities?
…deliver light and fluffy sermons that don’t challenge?
…overwhelmingly stress the grace of God, without putting it in the context of Truth?
…don’t make application of the Text, leaving their sermons largely irrelevant to people’s lives?
I believe people want to be fed. They want to be challenged. They want to grow. They want to hear God’s Word in Full. They don’t want to be catered to; they want to be led.
Indeed, genuine Christians are commanded to grow (cf. Heb. 6:1; 2 Pet. 3:18). No one can be right with God and hate the truth (2 Thess. 2:10).
Preachers, what kind of pulpit do you fill?
- Are you catering to the world, or are you catering to God? Its time to get out of the pulpit when our preaching can only be described with words like “puny” or “light and fluffy.”
- What does it say about your congregation if the church makes you afraid to preach the truth? Are you afraid to preach relevant and substantive sermons because the church doesn’t want to be challenged? Are they not hungry for God’s Word?
- Are you afraid to preach challenging sermons because doing so will inevitably challenge you?
Preachers, in a very real sense, your congregation is relying on you. I believe the cliché, “As the pulpit goes, so does the congregation,” is true. Don’t underestimate what kind of influence you are having on those who are listening to you.
Learn what your congregation needs to hear.
Preach against sin. Be specific. Be relevant.
Tell people what God expects of His children.
Tell people about the love of Christ, but don’t stop there. Tell them what the love of Christ should compel them to do.
Talk about real discipleship.
Challenge. Encourage. Rebuke. Step on toes.
Preach like you love God more than anything else. Because you do love God more than anything else.
Your church deserves good preaching. Don’t give them a puny pulpit. Don’t let people leave hungry.