…preach the Bible!
Is it that hard?
(Warning: rant ahead)
I speak as one of you. I speak as one who listens to you. I speak as one with family who have to listen to you.
When God lets you speak to his people on his behalf, why would you do anything else but give them what he has spoken? Why wouldn’t you open the Scriptures and give them his Word?
I don’t mean simply reading it out loud, though some of us could do a little bit more of that. (You’ll hear more Scripture in a Catholic mass than in the average evangelical worship service.) I mean opening it, giving its meaning, building a bridge between its world and ours, and then inviting people to receive its truth.
OK, a little background:
I pastored a church for nine years before moving to the Pacific Northwest to help start a new one. That makes me the worst audience – the preacher without a pulpit. But it also gives me a unique perspective because I’ve done what you’re doing, and I know what I’m hearing.
I also know that there’s a committee searching for my replacement, just as there are many other churches searching for many other replacements.
And the pool isn’t deep.
For the moment, let’s leave out all the would-be pastors who don’t feel called to pastor churches outside of their comfort zone (or their wife’s). There are plenty of those.
There are plenty who have found a nice little side job to supplement their retirement income. Preachers who read a verse, share a fuzzy thought, and close with a story from the Reader’s Digest. (There are younger guys who do this full-time too.)
There are plenty of preachers who know a cool song, have a cool backdrop, wear cool clothes, hang out with all the cool kids, and find Bible verses to match their cool sermon. (If you want to be cool, there are plenty of Christian designers to help you coordinate your ensemble.)
There are plenty of preachers who know what they want to say before they ever consult the Scriptures.
But men who preach the Bible?
Where are they?
No, I don’t think I’m irreplaceable. I’m not irreplaceable, and I’m not making an unreasonable request. It shouldn’t be that hard to find a conservative evangelical – to find a Baptist! – who trusts God enough to preach His Word and not his own.
And no, I’m not talking about the guys who preach mostly about how much they preach the Bible. Their churches may applaud their biblicalness, but they’re only using the Bible to biblify their tribal heritage.
Where are the preachers who do more than crack jokes, tell stories, scratch itches, and regurgitate gurus?
For one Sunday, I dare you to cancel the show. Lose the graphics. Give the band a rest. Drop the branding. Withhold the punchline. Resist the self-serving story.
Instead grab the Book. Open it. Read it. Preach it as if that’s all we need.