A Disturbing Trend In The Modern-Day Pulpit

Saturday, February 22, 2014

pulpit with tumble weed
Something has been bothering me for some time. It is something that is breaking my heart and causing me to shake my head in disbelief. There is a disturbing trend in today's modern American church culture that is reducing our pulpits to venues of disseminating information rather than imparting truth. Many church leaders have even abandoned the term, sermons, in favor of the more trendy term, talks. Now, before you hit the delete button, let me make myself very clear--I am all in favor of Christian Education and believe that the Church has a mission to teach the Word to everyone who comes through our doors. Information is important, so I am not saying that it is bad. What I am saying is that information that is devoid of inspiration should have no place in our pulpits and we should never settle for it. Let me also clarify that mere inspiration without solid, biblical scholarship should not be tolerated either.

Let me define what I mean by these two terms. Information is simply human knowledge and understanding. Inspiration, on the other hand, is supernatural knowledge and understanding. Information is limited to what the human mind can understand. Inspiration transcends the limits of our understanding because it is based on what God understands. Both are good and necessary but information will only get you as far as your mind can take you. Inspiration will take you beyond that to the unlimited understanding of God's Spirit. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Information challenges our thinking. Inspiration challenges our character. Information is man-given. Inspiration is God-given. Only inspiration can solve the problems our culture is facing today. We face situations that need more than just mere information. If that is all we needed, our problems would have been solved long ago. What we need is something supernatural and that is where inspiration comes in. Only the inspiration of God himself can transform information into truth. In John 8:32 Jesus said, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Notice he didn't say we will know the facts (information). He said truth. Without the Holy Spirit's inspiration, we can only know information.

Inspiration, however, does not give us license to say things that are not true and expect God to make them true. When we stand behind the pulpit, we must make sure we get our facts straight. Inspiration does not give us a pass to be ignorant. God expects us to do our homework and we need to be aware that the people listening to us expect the same. Many sitting in our pews have direct access to the same information we have and are fact-checking our sermons on their smartphones and tablets as we are preaching. I've done it myself many times and have caught a few pastors giving false information. If we dare to recite false information and fail to get our facts right, no amount of inspiration can make it right and we are then left on our own. We also should never attempt to merely share facts with a culture that is already saturated with information and most likely already knows what is being shared. They need something that will transcend what they can simply understand. They are desperate for more than just an intellectual challenge. They are thirsty and hungry to know how to become more like Jesus and change their character. Mere information can not do that. Only inspiration can.

As we prepare to stand at our pulpits this weekend and bring a word to our congregations, let us not dare to step up there without first having a word from God himself that will go beyond challenging people's thinking and will literally transform their hearts. If we offer anything less, then we have not only wasted their time, we have robbed God of the opportunity to speak to his people.
My father was a brilliant theologian and thinker. He spent a lifetime studying God's Word. He knew the nuances of the original Greek and Hebrew. His favorite board game was Trivial Pursuit and he very rarely lost. I share his passion for knowledge, but what I learned most from him was that every time he stood up to that pulpit, he brought a fresh word from the Holy Spirit that transformed his knowledge into a life-changing message that softened and pierced even the hardest of hearts. Many times it brought him to tears as he was preaching. We need that in our pulpits today more than ever.

May God's Holy Spirit breathe in and through you this weekend and bring life-changing transformation to his people as you preach the Word.
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Sheryl Park said...

A very accurate assessment. The example you gave of your father's ministering reminded me of another component of pulpit ministry that people are drawn to - PASSION.
A very good read.
Sheryl P.

David Good said...

Thank you Sheryl. Yes, PASSION! Unfortunately though, there are many who are passionate simply about information and lack any passion about the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They seek to move people's minds rather than their hearts. May we get back to the Apostles' foundation of "We preach Christ, and him crucified."

Anonymous said...

Thank you, David. Yes, may more and more deep searchers for the God of the holy Bible desire to get back to the Apostles' foundation and start witnessing consistently "We preach Christ, and him crucified." Amen.

Dear blog visitors, nly by doing this can we truly honor and hallow God's all glorious and gracious name.
Multitudes worldwide are passionate or zealous but are not passionate in trusting and obeying the pure Prince of Peace.

As David teaches so wonderfully well, let's put our complete faith in God's Beloved, sinless Son. He is risen and is worthy to worshipped in spirit in truth. He is the truth and He is the faithful witness.

Man needs to put his faith in Him, for He is able to give Him a new, abundant life which glorifies the Lord God. Now that's good news! Our praise is for Our wonderrful, wise, loving, gacious, forgiving Lord of Lords. Let's bless the name above all names of Lord Jesus now and forevermore!

Reine Gnade

Jimmy DeYoung Jr. said...

Well said David, Paul told Timothy in in his letter of instruction to him "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be throughly furnished unto all good works. 2Tim.3:16&17

David Good said...

Thank you Jimmy. May every preacher have a desire to follow Paul's model - To preach Christ and Him crucified. Thanks for reading my blog.

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