Thursday, July 24, 2014

Questions About the Old and New Covenants

One massive problem within the church today is that many believers do not understand the significant differences between the Old and New Covenants. Many of these people incorrectly believe that numerous aspects of the Old Covenant still apply to us today. This has led to all sorts of errors within church life.

Keith Giles has written an excellent blog post dealing with this issue entitled Questions About the Old and New Covenant. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summary: Why Sermons Won't Go Away

The Sunday sermon is a fixture in the life of the church. This is the case almost everywhere around the globe. No matter where you look you see someone standing on an elevated platform giving a lecture to a passive church body. While the details differ, the general pattern is the same. This despite the fact that scripture provides no evidence for this practice in the life of the early church. We dissenters must continue to hope and pray that God brings about a change to something far better.

Read this series by clicking on the links below. The final post is the most important:

Why Sermons Won't Go Away
1. Sermons Are Thought to be "Biblical"
2. Sermons Are Fun to Prepare
3. Sermons Are Fun to Preach
4. Sermons Earn the Pastor's Paycheck
5. Sermons Allow the People to Sit
A Much Better Alternative to Sermonizing

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Much Better Alternative to Sermonizing

Sermons dominate the American church landscape. Regardless of denomination, tradition, or style, the vast majority of churches employ professional pastors to deliver monologue lectures to silent audiences at least one time per week.

Is this as good as it gets? The answer is a resounding NO.

God has provided us with an alternative to modern-day preaching that is both much more edifying and more enjoyable.

First, let me provide an important definition. Preaching, as defined in scripture, is actually open air evangelism designed to call the lost to Christ. It is not what occurs when the church gathers. If you read through the book of Acts, you will find preaching always occurring within the context of the spread of the gospel.

Modern preaching has morphed into the ineffective thing we see today. God's alternative to this is teaching that takes place within the confines of Christian community. As the church gathers, whenever and wherever, teaching is one of the things that takes place. Teaching is a gift that some believers possess more than others, but we are all able to teach to one extent or another.

Colossians 3:16 is an extremely important verse. Paul writes to the entire Colossian church, saying in 3:16, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." Everyone in the body is to be teaching everyone else. This happens within the body of Christ as it lives life together. Some teaching is more in word while other is more in action. There is always a back-and-forth nature to it. Discussion is an important key.

Body life is exactly that. All parts of the body are necessary (see I Cor. 12). We all need each other to teach each other. The body benefits from this, encourages it, and even corrects it (if anything incorrect is taught). No one person is elevated more than any other.

Teaching is important to the life and health of the body. However, we need to take care that teaching is not thought of as better or more important than other gifts. A balanced perspective is key.

Teaching is to be a part of the multitude of one anothers that permeate body life. As we come together as brothers and sisters in Christ, teaching in all its wonderful forms is one of the things that happens. When we follow this scriptural pattern, the body grows and thrives. Following God's plans is always best for the church.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

5. Sermons Allow the People to Sit

The final reason why sermons won't go away any time soon is that sermons allow the people to sit.

It is currently Sunday morning. Literally millions of American Christians are preparing to "go to church." One thing most of them will do in a few hours is sit passively through some sort of religious ceremony. Most of these folks do this because it's what they've always done. They don't even think about it. They even believe it pleases God for them to sit through the sermon. While I'm certain that most have good intentions, the outcome is basically meaningless.

Where in the New Testament do we see a passive church sitting through a ceremony? It doesn't exist.

Many Christians have very busy lives. Because of this, they are tired. They see Sunday as some sort of Sabbath. Because of this, many are more than happy to sit in a padded seat while the "man of God brings the message from God." The people in the pews aren't going to fight the current system of clergy-led ceremonies because they enjoy the time of sitting. This arrangement also foists most of the responsibility onto the pastors up front.

What we have, then, is an entire process that elevates the clergy while stunting the laity. And everyone seems happy with this (except us trouble makers on the fringes of church life).

God's plan for his church is one of vitality and action. We edify one another, evangelize the lost, and sacrificially serve everybody. At least that's God's plan. Sitting in the pews has nothing to do with any of that.

For now at least the rampant pew sitting isn't going away. In a couple of hours millions of American believers will do what they believe is their duty by sitting and listening. Many of them will be happy to do so, allowing the pastor to earn his paycheck by preaching while they sit.

A much, much better way exists for church life that has nothing to do with all this sermonizing. I'll detail that in my next post.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

4. Sermons Earn the Pastor's Paycheck

Go ahead and take a poll of numerous Christians. Ask them what the most important thing is that a pastor does. If you do this, I guarantee that the runaway number one answer will be, "He preaches."

This is a fascinating phenomenon in light of the fact that the New Testament doesn't provide even one example of pastors preaching. Not even one! The sad reality is that the current situation of pastors preaching week after week is based in man's traditions, not in scripture. As they say in the South: it is what it is.

Preaching is the primary way that pastors earn their paychecks. Of course they do many other things, but the primary one is preaching. Just look at the poll results. The main "work" he does is study for hours each week and then preach the sermon(s).

This arrangement guarantees that sermons aren't going away any time soon. The people in the pews believe the pastor should preach, and the pastor needs a paycheck to live. There's a sort of co-dependant thing going on there.

Regardless, the pastor's need to pay his bills is just one more reason that we should not expect sermons to go extinct any time in the near future.

Monday, July 7, 2014

3. Sermons Are Fun to Preach

Although the idea of preaching sermons may be intimidating to many people, the reality is that it's a lot of fun. Because of this, sermons aren't going away any time soon.

I've heard over and over that preaching sermons is incredibly difficult work. I can tell you from my experience that this is hogwash. Although preaching can be tiring, it is not all that difficult. Frankly, it's mostly just plain enjoyable. After having studied for hours during the week, the pastor gets to talk to a silent, captive audience about all that he has studied. The people sit and listen (to some extent). The whole process is gratifying to the pastor and his ego.

This may sound harsh on my part. However, it is also reality. The pastor is the center of attention for as long as the sermon lasts (probably anywhere from 25-45 minutes). No one gets to ask any difficult questions. Rather, it is simply the pastor getting to say what he wants about what he wants. It's great fun.

After the sermon is over the pastor gets told repeatedly what a great job he just did. This further strokes the ego. It also encourages the pastor to preach more, and more, and more.

Please let me be clear on one related point: I believe the vast majority of pastors preach with good intentions. They are doing what they think they should. They believe that what they are doing has a sound biblical basis (it doesn't). They want the folks in the pews to benefit by growing spiritually. They even think they are working hard and sacrificing for the kingdom.

Despite these good intentions, the pastors are wrong. I'm saddened to even write this. However, I must write the truth. The preaching of sermons by the clergy to the laity does more harm than good by stifling the saints and elevating the pastor(s). It's not sacrifice on the pastor's part; rather, it is an easy paycheck.

As a bonus for pastors, preaching sermons is downright fun. In light of this, most pastors are thrilled to continue doing it week after week after week, etc.

Preaching is far too much fun for pastors to stop or even think of doing so. Because of this, sermons aren't going away.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

2. Sermons Are Fun to Prepare

A second reason Why Sermons Won't Go Away is that sermons are fun to prepare.

Imagine sitting behind a desk with a cup of coffee in hand. The top of your desk holds a computer, a bible, a few commentaries, a notepad, and several pens. BibleWorks, Logos, or some other bible program shines on your computer screen. You've been given the gift of studying the bible for numerous hours every week in order to prepare one or two speeches.

Sermon prep is awesome for the pastor! He actually gets to read the bible and dig into its meaning for hour after hour every week. While most of us regular people struggle to find any time to read scripture during a busy week, the pastor gets tons of time. It's a blast!

For over two years as a professional pastor I was able to study all I wanted while I prepared sermons. It was great fun. This is not to say that it was always easy, but it was still a great experience for me. What Christian wouldn't want to get paid to study the bible?

Because putting sermons together is so much fun, the vast majority of pastors want this practice to continue. They certainly aren't going to speak out against it. Why give up such a good thing?

If, on the other hand, sermon preparation was drudgery I could see many pastors speaking out against it. However, that's simply not going to happen because studying the bible is wonderful.

Let's do the simple math here. Most Christians think modern sermons are biblical in nature and sermons are fun to prepare. This adds up to sermons not going anywhere anytime soon.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Trying to Blog, But...

I've been trying to blog lately, but I just can't find the time. I do have a good reason: my job required me to work 77 hours last week. I want to continue with the series on Why Sermons Won't Go Away; this coming holiday weekend may provide opportunity for that.

My hope is that you are having a blessed week in the Lord. Take joy in living as the saint you are and as the active priest He has called you to be!