Devout Christians: From Reverence to Regression – The Declining Role of Preaching in Modern Christianity.

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( There was a time when you went to church, not primarily for the singing, or the fellowship offered by a gathering of the saints, although those were good things to have, but to hear the word of God lovingly and powerfully presented. In those circumstances, you often left the church with the word ringing in your ears, vibrating in your soul, and you felt energized and filled, settled and assured, and ready to go the extra mile.

Devout Christians: From Reverence to Regression - The Declining Role of Preaching in Modern Christianity.


That was then.

Today things are different, and we seem to be flooded with preachers who are neither schooled in the fine art of preaching effective sermons, nor understand the critical role of preaching the full, life-saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

You are not preaching right, sir, if you omit from your preaching all references to hell, holiness, righteous living, duty, sacrifice, eternity, sobriety, damnation, judgment and any other topic that may stir the consciences, and bestow unease on your spiritually starved, and doctrinally fickle congregations.

It is never right to preach or teach what people want, but what the Holy Spirit gives, that is necessary and sufficient for the congregation. In this regard, what is preached is given by apostolic instruction, as for example, the Apostle Paul’s to Timothy, “Preach the word.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

Preaching is about God’s word, which is about God, about Jesus Christ, and the things of God, and there can be no exceptions. It was Paul who put this in proper context when he said, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

Some preachers seem to be bent on removing God from the pulpit, just as some in society is bent on removing God from every aspect of public life, with the ultimate aim of removing God from humanity.

Those who want to remove God from the general public, masquerade under different banners, but are in fundamental agreement with the website that says this:

“I’m really getting tired of these pushy Evangelical Christians shoving their version of Christianity down the throats of Americans. Every day I hear about how Government needs to start taking moral stances against television, movies, music, culture, etc.; how we need to put prayer back in schools; how we need statues of the Ten Commandments in courthouses; basically how we need to put Christ in every nook and cranny of life”

The writer goes on to tell you of his Christianity; “Don’t get me wrong, I’m Roman Catholic. I have nothing against Christ at all I recall that accepting Christ and God was the requisite, and living in a generally moral way was all that was needed” and the oxymoron become pellucid clear when the most fundamental teaching of the Christian faith is mentioned.

He goes on, “Every religion has flaws, and every religion at one point or another infringes basic human rights of some group. These days, the most common groups are gays and those in need of abortions. My own Church says gays are immoral, and so is abortion, but I disagree.”

Just like this website, they are many secular people who are agitating for, or allowing God, to be obliterated from the public realm, but these same people are strangely silent, or woefully negligent, when the consequences of their actions overwhelm society.

This is, or should be, of major concern to all right-thinking people, but there is an even greater concern, and it relates to what is happening within the church.

It would be more honest and less hypocritical if some preachers/pastors/churches just go ahead and erect a sign or notice board on their church that says, “God is NOT preached here and Jesus mentioned only a few times.” It is as if preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all its dimensions has become a public nuisance that must be avoided at all cost.

One church had a Sunday liturgy lasting 90 minutes, and the pastor got up to preach his sermon in the 80th minute and commenced by saying, “I know you do not want to hear the Word, but bear with me for a couple minutes” He actually apologized for having to preach a sermon at his own church, and after preaching a tiny sermon he pronounced the benediction.

In case some people think that this phenomenon is occurring only in the Protestant churches, then be advised, that is not the case. In 2008, the Pope instructed all priests to reduce their sermons to no more than 8 minutes duration; and this is how it was reported.

“In a new book consisting of reflections based on the 2008 Synod on the Word of God, the secretary for the Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, writes that homilies should not last more than eight minutes.”

It should be stated that when one attends a worship service, the whole liturgy should be oriented towards worshipping God, and the generation of a deep sense of spiritual awareness, but within that framework the centrality and preeminence of the God-inspired sermon should be fully recognized.

The Roman Catholic Church, since before the Reformation, has consistently and progressively reduced the sermon to an adjunct to their mass, and elevated their chants, and prayers, and music, and song to such dominance that their sermon is unrecognizable from the example set by the early church.

The Reformers recognized the drift away from apostolic orthodoxy and as part of their reforms reinstated the sermon to its central role in the general church liturgy.

Protestant churches no longer accept ritual (Holy Communion) as the central plank of their liturgy, but rather the sermon; aimed at the congregation to deepen their faith, cause revival and to evangelize. Even with Holy Communion service, the sermon set the tone, and prepares the congregation, and ought to have a major position within the liturgy.

We should remember that the sermon (as opposed to a sermonette or homily a short commentary that may follow a Bible reading for a special occasion) is not some recent invention, but has an illustrious history going back to Moses.

We have records showing us Moses’ sermon (Deuteronomy 1-33), Jesus’ sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7), Peter’s sermon at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-40) and Paul’s sermon in Troas (Acts 20: 7-12).

In addition to these, we have copies of sermons preached to congregations, and audiences, from some of the greatest preachers in church history; including preachers like Tertullian, John Chrysostom, Saint Francis of Assisi, John Wesley, Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards, to mention but a few.

So why is this massive regression of the centrality of preaching the full Gospel occurring in the modern churches? Why are churches abandoning the central themes of the Bible and instead feeding their congregations palliatives?


We will do well to remember the warning of the Apostle Paul, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

The plain truth is that preachers are following the crowd, and not the proper way it should be. Remember what the Apostle Paul said to the Corinthians, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

They are many passing fads that preachers are engaged in, just because they seek popularity.

It does not work for the benefit of souls.

Recently a local pastor, after he had carried out a funeral service, jumped down off the pulpit and in a loud voice commanded the dead woman to rise from the casket. He had delusions of massive local and international fame, but it did not work; the dead woman ignored the clown.

The preaching of the gospel is hard, grinding at times, sincere work, that reveals the mind of God to the household of faith, and presents Jesus to a degenerate world. It’s about time preachers get back to these basics, do the work of the evangelist, and make full proof of their ministry as Paul instructed Timothy. If ever there was a time for God-centric, inspiring preaching, then surely that time is now. Preacher, throw off your slumber and get moving, for God is depending on you to boldly proclaim the truths of the gospel; and let the chips fall where they may.

Enough said.

Staff Writer; Henderson W.

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