True story: two girls were talking. The older girl had recently “advanced” from children’s church to the regular church service. After a couple months, she told her little sister to take advantage of the time and enjoy children’s church, because she said that when you get to the regular church service, you cannot understand what the pastor is talking about.
How sad that is. Pastors use fancy notes, overdone alliteration, television screens, sermon illustration and outline websites, microphones, funny stories, and yet despite all this, the people do not understand what the pastor is talking about.
The pastor has prepared his sermon, but does not have a message. Sure—some people might know the general topic of the sermon, but ask them what the sermon meant or what they are to do about it, and they will not know. Most pastors lack the power of the Spirit of God. They may be sincere, but they are sincerely weak spiritually. They do not bother to read sermons by men whom God greatly used to see how they did not used forty-two points and massive alliteration, but spoke simply from the heart of God to the hearts of the people—through his own heart.
Once, for the period of a couple years, I asked people what their sermon was about and what they learned, how they were changed, etc. I asked people who tool notes in church. I asked elders and deacons. I asked people who said, “Good sermon, Pastor,” after the sermon. Every time, the people could not tell me what the point or message of the sermon was. They might remember the title or a funny story, but that was about all.
For example, perhaps a pastor recently preached a few-week series through the book of Habakkuk. Now, two weeks later, ask the people what the book of Habakkuk is about. Ask what God’s message is for them or what they learned from it. Ninety-five percent of the people will have no idea, and the other five percent know because they have read the book on their own.
Yet we keep telling the pastor “Good sermon, Pastor,” and we remain content with emptiness, thinking that we are being kind by lying to the pastor, rather than helping him and the congregation by explaining that his alliteration and points are not understood by the people. Instead, someone tells an emotional story and we claim that the Spirit of God moved in this place, and that gets us through another month, as long as there are youth group events, Christian comedians, and meals to help us through.
A strange thing is, as we go to church, our communities are filled with lonely, hurting, unsaved people. We drive right by them every week on our way to church. We speed by them after church, trying to get a seat at our favorite restaurant right after church, despite it being the Lord’s Day. We think that the answer to the unsaved is to invite them to our church so that they, too, can sit there and hear a sermon and wonder what the message is about; but at least they, like us, might feel good about themselves because they were religious, even though they remain empty. We encourage the new attenders to “get connected” or “plugged in,” because we like our Christian phrases. We encourage the religious attenders to join our Christian social clubs rather than to seek God.
So, our churches remain dead, though with outward activity, just like the people.
Let us get back to the truth and power of God, repent for our spiritual emptiness, seek reformation and revival and start being God’s people instead of playing church. Our neighbors might be going to hell, but at least we got our coffee to drink in church before we discuss sports with our fellow followers of Jesus.
We need God. We need His Word and His Son and His Spirt. Sadly, we are content with church and Christian entertainment. Meanwhile, we are spiritually immature and the world is going to hell.
Let us teach our children to seek God, to follow Jesus, and to desire the fulness of the Holy Spirit. Let us teach our children the Word and ways of God, not to imitate the world or to substitute a church service or entertaining youth group for the cross of Christ.
Let us go out to seek and save the lost, rather than expect the lost sheep to wander in to our churches.
Let us teach our children about the heroes of the faith instead of the sports and wicked entertainment of this world.
Will you teach your children God’s ways? Will you set an example for them by following Jesus fully yourself, by spending time alone with God every day, by leading family devotions? If you will be like Jesus, you will be in the minority; but if you are like Jesus, you will have life now and forevermore.