Friday, June 28, 2013

Who preaches your sermons?

I'm a strong believer that what comes out of a preacher's mouth during the sermon should be based on their personal study of and interaction with Scripture, the needs of and prophetic challenges facing their congregation and the world they inhabit, and what they feel the Holy Spirit is leading them to say.


That's why I bristle whenever I hear a sermon where the preacher's jumping on the latest bandwagon opinion spouted by their denomination or religious political affinity group. Or when preachers use sermon illustration collections, or worse, purchase entire sermons. And we wouldn't have issues with "Christian" flacking firms creating sermon tie-in content designed to boost the sales of the motion-picture industry (Hollywood and "Christian" films alike), or the latest "Christian" book the industry hopes will become a best-seller phenomenon.

Churches are constantly being bombarded with materials that promote the ideas of the mega-star pastors du jour, the next marriage-saving seminar series, the latest way to finally appeal to those hard-to-reach 18-35 year old demographics. They're hit with missives to preach about certain causes, get certain people elected, make sure certain other people don't get elected, March on Washington™, oppose this, work for that.

Every one of these so-called opportunities, whether they come from the secular or the ecclesiastical world, is someone trying to manipulate the church, whether for financial or political gain. These people don't care about you and don't care about your people. They just want to make a buck or use you to advance their cause. All of them. Even the people with whom you naturally might agree.

None of us should be naive. Churches and church folks are just another demographic to be exploited. And in these days of data mining and personalized advertising and other advanced techniques, this stuff is going to be coming at you and your people faster and harder every year.

So for heaven's sakes, be aware. Don't let your church become an arm of Christianity, Inc. Don't let other people put words in your mouth. Use your brain, your connection with the Holy Spirit, your prayer life, your immersion in the Bible, your observations about your congregation and the world around you today. Build your church around how your people, your community, and the world need to be touched by God. Every week, tell them something God's given you right now, specifically for them.

The real power of God comes from his interaction with you, and you with your people. Don't give it away to pale imitations.

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