“Preacher, I wish you’d preach something that relates to my life. Preacher, I wish you would quit giving us a history lesson. Preacher, I wish you wouldn’t read so much of the Bible in your sermons.” Have you ever heard these statements? Has a member of your congregation ever “encouraged” you with these words?
I think Paul must have heard these statements or something similar from the Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 2, he writes, “And I, when I came to you, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Here are three motivations I’ve seen behind those who want the preacher to “preach something relevant.
- They want the preaching to be non-convicting: They don’t really want the convicting preaching of Christ and Him crucified. I can see the Corinthians wishing that Paul would preach against all the sin going on in Corinth, but he did not deviate from the message of the cross. That’s what the Corinthians needed. Those who want preachers to preach about the sins of others are looking to make themselves feel better, but they do not want the conviction that comes from gospel centered preaching.
- They want to follow the preacher: Let’s face it, we like a charismatic, energetic, and engaging speaker, but we don’t follow men, we follow Christ. In chapter 1 of 1 Corinthians, Paul addressed this subject. Some of them were following Paul, some Apollos, and some Paul. Those who want “relevant preaching” usually want to follow the messenger instead of the message.
- They want a performance: Perform for me preacher so I can feel better. That’s what we pay you to do preacher.
These types of congregation members are not bad people. Here are actions we can take to lead our church members to expect and appreciate Biblical preaching.
- Follow Paul’s example: He preached Christ and Him crucified. It’s tempting to preach from our soapboxes and our own thoughts. I visited with a 91 year old preacher during my recent vacation, and he said, “The best sermon I ever wrote is in my wallet. I’ve never preached it because it’s mine, not His. God’s message and our message is Christ crucified, buried, and risen again for our salvation.
- Teach our congregations that the message of the cross is about everyday life: The message of the cross has been reserved for Sunday only for too long. Christ didn’t save us for Sunday only.
- Quit preaching against worldly sin if it’s not prevalent in our churches: Don’t misunderstand me, we should give a Biblical witness to the world. We should stand against sinful practices such as abortion, gay marriage, etc, but if I have a congregation full of senior adults, none of whom are gay, I could preach a little less on the evils of gay marriage, and more on another sin that they struggle with. Preaching a sermon against lost people who are not in attendance does not benefit anyone, and it does not glorify God.
This is a bit of a soapbox for me because as a music minister I heard this complaint in many forms, and I always wondered where this desire came from. What does everyone else think? Have you heard this? Have you been pressured to do this? Would you add anything to my two lists? Please leave your thoughts below.