Friday, February 25, 2011

Chained to the Pulpit?

"...for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ" ~ 2 Cor. 10:14

In defending his ministry, Paul makes a point that every preacher should take to heart. He and his companions had traveled a long way to bring the gospel to people. They endured hardships, persecutions, and experienced diffculties that Christians today cannot even imagine. Read Paul's list of things he had suffered in order to help people come to Jesus (2 Cor. 11:23-28).

My question for you preachers out there is simple: When was the last time you took any risks to teach the Bible to anybody? I am sorry to have to say some of this, but many preachers need to hear it. I did not grow up in a culture of "pulpit ministers." I was raised in a area of our country where we were lucky to have one true church in a town of 50,000. Pulpit preaching alone just didn't cut it. The only way people came to Jesus Christ was when Jesus Christ came to them. Many preachers and Christians alike need to repent immediately and start beating the pavement.

Would you be ashamed if you had to honestly answer concerning how many Bible studies you have tried to set up in the last five years? If you are wondering why your ministry is suffering - check and see when you last changed your schedule or cancelled a hobby to study the Bible with someone. And shame on churches and their leaders for turning preachers into elders and deacons - who have to spend so much time shepherding and serving tables that they cannot focus on evagelism. Read Acts 6 and see if the apostles would ever allow people to be lost in order to make the church members happy.

We have oft ridiculed and chastised the denominational world for chaining the Bible to the pulpit. Certainly these accusations are warranted and documented. But at the same time, we need to look in the mirror. Many of us have also chained it. When the gospel rarely leaves our church buildings we need to rethink our plea. Or maybe we should consider whether or not we still have a plea.

I love the church. I love the leaders and I love every member. But I love the lost just as much. So I am going to continue to speak up on this issue. I will not allow my ministry to be limited to a pulpit. No preacher should ever live from Sunday to Sunday. May God help us to get down from the pulpit, and to get out of our offices, and take the gospel to a lost and dying world!

"For which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained." ~ 2 Tim. 2:9


  1. Thanks for this post.
    My concern is stalemate. That is, that my preaching will become stale. (I was going to say "become stale mate" but there just aren't enough Kiwis or Ausies to understand.) I have heard many sermons and been at points in my own ministry when I preached sermons that reflected an academic Gospel. By that I mean facts without faith or fervor. It is clear that the preacher (sometimes me) is preaching the words without the passion or urgency that comes from personally teaching the lost the saving message. It is important for me to constantly ask myself if the truth of the Gospel is blended with the urgency so apparent in the N.T. writings. I have a hard time exuding urgency when I sit behind a desk most of the week.
    Recently I took some time to rethink my preaching. Some in the congregation want more passion (ad-lib, less structure, more "pleading") while others think I should just present the facts, and they view any pleading or enthusiasm as histrionics. There are risks to both extremes. It seems to me that when I am active teaching others the Gospel in person, my message has been more balanced: I am more able to present the facts with fervor. The one on one teaching activity creates and enhances a balanced message because teaching people personally will present the teacher with a need to know all of the Gospel. There are some I have to teach about proper church structure or worship because they are steeped in denominationalism. Some need teaching about God's morality. Some need teaching about rightly dividing. Out of this one on one biblical exchange comes a sermon package that is more balanced, truthful and passionate.
    But, there is another issue that your post raises, Jeremiah. Puplit preaching is strong not only when the preacher is engaged with teaching the lost, but also when he is engaged with all those activities Paul described to Timothy. Reprove, rebuke, exhort. That was not to be done just from the pulpit but by personal involvement in the lives of Christians. It is true, as you say, that the preacher needs to be involved teaching the lost, but a quick look at Timothy's responsibilities as an evangelist show he was spending time with fellow Christians teaching them the message and helping them stay on track and grow.
    Again, thanks for this post. It has been a good reminder to me of what I need to be doing.

  2. Thanks. I needed that.


  3. Doug,
    That was a very compelling comment. I read it all and I undersstand it all. I think the point is that you know what needs are when you know the people. And when you know the people, the passion will be there because the gospel applies on a personal level with each individual to whom you are preaching. Good points.

  4. great post jeremiah. double whammy today. wrote mine, then read yours. the Lord's probably tryin' to tell me something.