We live in the age of “church growth,” a time when many pastors and church leaders focus on marketing tactics meant to fill pews and stuff coffers. Writing for the Christian Post, Pastor Shane Idleman of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, exhorts his colleagues to rethink their approach to ministry.
The truth is often watered-down in the hope of not offending members and building a large audience. Judgment is never mentioned and repentance is rarely sought. We want to grow a church rather than break a heart; be politically correct rather than biblically correct; coddle and comfort rather than stir and convict.
Idleman pines for a time when preachers instilled the fear of God in their congregations, when the Word was preached with urgency.
Where are the Spurgeon’s who spoke with such authority that his sermons are read more today than ever before? Where are the D.L. Moodys who brought America to her knees? Where are the Evan Roberts’ who, during the Welsh Revivals of 1904-5, preached so powerfully against sin that people cried out to truly know God? Where are the Puritans like Richard Baxter, who said with such humility, “I speak as a dying man to dying men”?
They have been largely replaced by topical “relevant” sermons on “life application,” like having a better marriage or parenting children. Such topics are certainly important, and the Bible has much to say on them. However, if preaching on any topic does not begin and end with the Gospel, then church-goers are served no better than they would be by an episode of Oprah.