The age old philosophical debate about a tree falling in the woods with no one around, could apply to many church sanctuaries these days. If a sermon is preached to empty pews or to folks who are half asleep or half dead, is it really heard? If preaching is falling on deaf ears in the best of circumstances, these steps will ensure the death of the pulpit in short order:
- Don’t Preach Evangelistically
Jesus talked about Heaven and Hell. You can too. In the last illustration from Jesus’ last sermon (see Matthew 25), he made it clear that there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. When preachers refuse to preach that heart change is needed and necessary, don’t be shocked when hearts aren’t changed.
- Preach Non-offensive messages.
In an effort to not offend anyone, preach weak, anemic sermons. No one will be offended and no one will be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit either. Paul said it best:Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Romans 12:1 (The Message)
- Preach Politics instead of Jesus
Against what some church goers might think, Jesus was not a democrat or a republican. If you must align yourself with a political party, let it not be with the donkeys or the elephants, march to the beat of the Lamb! In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:12)
- Reject Biblical Authority
Many of the current debates in church circles really revolve around Biblical interpretation. What does the Bible really mean? The question is not even “Does the Bible speak against certain behaviors?” Rather are the behaviors that the Bible prohibits culturally and/or time sensitive or are the behaviors to be universally rejected. If I am going to err on either side of that debate, I want to err on the side of preaching what the Bible says. Many will reject such simplicity, but the preacher’s authority is not based on his/her words but the Word of God. Without the authority of the Word, the sermon is nothing more than a nice talk.
- Pray Little
Spend less time on social media and pray more. Complain less about uncommitted church folks and the gossips in your midst and pray more. Concern yourself less with politics and pray more, If you think you AREN’T PRAYING ENOUGH, pray more. If you think you are PRAYING ENOUGH, pray more. Just pray more! A sermon that is not prayed over might as well not be preached.
- Don’t Practice what you Preach.
Practically this calls the preacher to being a good neighbor (if you are going to preach about the Good Samaritan); it means loving your enemies (if you are going to preach from the Sermon on the Mount); and it means living in such a manner that your neighbors and even enemies recognize the power of the gospel at work in you. Your best sermons are the ones lived before your family, neighbors and church folks.
Follow these six easy steps and no more worrying about any annoying overcrowding in the sanctuary and no need to set aside an evening to disciple non-existent new believers. Soon parking will be a breeze in an empty church lot. Gathering a crowd to hear a sermon is tough enough these days, follow these steps and you won’t have to worry about it.