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What’s In Your Pulpit?

May 22, 2017

“What you win them with, you win them to. What it takes to attract them is what it takes to keep them.” Dr. Les Ollila said this many times. His words continue to be a necessary reminder for ministry today.

The problem with attractional church tactics is that people are drawn to the gimmicks, the shows or the performance instead of the Word of God. Any showman can draw a crowd. Offer the right things and people will flock to the performance. Yet what happens people are brought in with laser shows, rock bands and catchy gimmicks? What happens when the entertainment is turned off and truth is preached?

This is no hypothetical question. Churches across America have discovered the attraction that brings people through the door has to continue or they will not return. As a result, the message becomes less and less about the Word. The speaker begins to incorporate all kinds of tricks and gimmicks into his message. The sermon gets shorter and shorter, is filled with anecdotes, movie references, video clips and offers a promise that Jesus will make everything better. The sermons are crafted to appeal to what the audience feels like they need to hear. Instead of giving “attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” the preacher gives attendance to appeal, relevance and audience. He promises solutions to marriage, financial, employment, political, social and personal problems. In the end the preacher has to tailor the message to appeal to the crowd in the same way as the gimmicks that brought them through the door.

The preacher of God’s truth has no business tailoring God’s Word to appeal to the natural desires of his hearers. The pastor must practice the pure teaching of pure truth without error, selfishness, sin or wordliness. The teaching of God’s truth is a serious undertaking. The teaching of Biblical truth must be done with gravity, dignity and honor. The doctrines of the Bible must be presented in a way that shows the true seriousness of the subject. This cannot be done when the pastor appears on stage in a cloud of smoke accompanied by the blasting of a heavy metal song. This does not happen when the sermon series is based on the latest Superman movie.

The truth of the Bible is eternal truth. Bible truth is serious condemnation and glorious promise. The Bible contains the truths of our Great God and Creator. It is the truth of our Savior and Coming King. It is the truth of sin, of sacrifice, of punishment, of promise, of transformation and eternal realities. These are not the kind of things that are explained by a youtube video of a dancing cat or by expositing the latest popular TV show. The Bible’s truth requires teaching of the Biblical text. The message of the man of God must be the message of the eternal Word of God. God does not appoint pastors to indulge the whims of the hearers. God appoints pastor to preach His truth.

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