Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Can we get some Biblical preaching, please?

No one appointed me pulpit evaluator but since I've never preached a sermon that a number of people did not inspect and evaluate, I think I will offer some humble observations on the pulpiteering of my fellow Baptist, and one Presbyterian, pastors.

I have these past months regularly and faithfully settled myself in a pew and listened to my colleagues preach on Sundays rather than preaching myself.

As I began this excursion, I was made to promise that I wouldn't fold my arms, glare, and mentally challenge the preacher du jour to see if he could say something that would impress or move me.

I have mostly kept that promise.

And I admit to being the pastor who didn't always preach his best. I recall finding a note on my back door ( we lived next to the church) one Sunday after church. It was a note from a member telling me how pathetic my sermon was. He was half right even if inelegant about it.

Here are a few observations on the preaching I've heard lately:

  • It was almost a joke to my wife and I but it took about two months of attending churches to actually hear the pastor of a church deliver a sermon. They were on vacation. They had guest preachers preaching. They had music or children's Sunday specials. They felt led to recount recent local church history. It was a Sunday special enough to not preach the Bible. Go figure.
  •  I'm not wedded to any particular style but I am wedded to hearing a portion or portions of Scripture preached. The frequency where I failed to find this in a sermon surprised me. I confess to not understanding the approach that substitutes a string of experiences for reading, explaining, and applying God's Word.
  • I'd rather hear Brother Sedate drone on concerning a Biblical text that Brother Bombast jack up the decibels on his opinion but never let God speak through His Word. I thought the latter was the whole idea of a sermon - proclaiming God's Word.
  • I rather like seeing a pastor who seems eager and excited to deliver a sermon. 
  • Thankfully, I've heard very little alliteration. Perhaps we are finally coming to our senses.
  • I have yet to hear a sermon longer than thirty minutes that was worth the extra ten or fifteen minutes.
It appears that the trend in pulpits, the literal item, is minimalism. Churches have either a clear acrylic lectern or nothing at all. We seem to be getting away from the massive pieces of pulpit furniture that had enough room for an oversized pulpit Bible, the Sunday bulletin, a glass of water and, hopefully, a watch.

I bet if Southern Baptists started installing elaborate pulpits like the one pictured above they would be reminded that preaching is meant to be something serious, something impressive, something important.

That would probably be helpful.


Anonymous said...

If we consider today's society and how we have been influenced and trained by media marketing, electronics and the web we find a generation who's attention span is about as long as a lazy man's To-Do list. Do we bend to "short-clip" subliminal methods of preaching God's word? I agree completely with what you say here and we must not lower an emphasis on the word. It has to be central in everything we do in our families and church or we will find ourselves in a position we cannot easily escape.

Anonymous said...

Your title is the reason my wife and I quit going to the church services and only go to an adult bible fellowship class. At least there they do talk about the bible. Even my adult sons and teenage son could not take it any longer and found another church where they could here te bible preached.

Anonymous said...

Go to for real Bible preaching.

Tim Dahl said...

So, when are you going to take a vacation from all this time off? Hither Yon to TX Old Boy! We'll get you some good Tex-Mex and BBQ while we're at it. You can visit my church, and you'll be out before 12:00. :)


Anonymous said...

I admit to giving in to the urge to alliterate this past weeked. I said that the preferences and passions of humans should not rule over the priveledge, position and power of God in worship. I should be ashamed.

Wayne Neal

D.R. said...

I laughed out loud when I went to the link from Anon 3. Found this precious sentence, "The Dispensational Bible Institute stands alone as the bastion of doctrinal purity that you appreciate and should require." That's awesome. The sentence under that one was equally funny (& sad). I sincerely hope that was posted with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Now back on topic - I'd be interested in some generational and worship style comparisons of those who do Biblical preaching v. those who don't. Plodder, did you do any category analysis on these?

Jonathan said...

I've been blessed to be in churches that, with a couple of glaring exceptions, placed a high priority on biblical preaching.

My take on this is that the current generation of seminary leadership is production preachers who are so enamored of the act of preaching that all other functions of the church have been secondary (at best). It is almost as though we've re-written the last function of Great Commission to state, "...teaching them to hear all...".

Making disciples requires a commitment far beyond the sanctuary and pulpit. In my experience, this is a minority view in SBC churches in North America.

cb scott said...

Thanks for the post.

Maybe someday we'll have lunch somewhere between "there" and "here."

Anonymous said...

That would be great CB. I don't oftern get west of Atlanta, though.