When bone looks more desirable than meat
As I was preparing a message for a conference I recently spoke at, I was shocked to find some really unsettling stats about the state of Christianity in America. According to David F. Wells’ “The D-Min-ization of the Ministry”, 85% of sermons are man centered and not grounded in the character, nature, and will of God. Meaning that most Sunday sermons, in one way or another, are geared towards the supremacy of man rather then the exegesis of Christ. Now I’ve seen some shocking stats before, but I must be honest. This is one of the ones that bother me the most. It would be one thing to say that a certain cult or a particular professing person is teaching heresies. Sure we can address that group or individual, knowing that you’ll find people like these in every worldview, but when we see such a large group of actual evangelical believers fall into this false hood, it’s an entirely different matter. Where and how do we begin to rectify this issue? Some of you no doubt will think, “Hey it’s not that serious” but I beg the contrary.
Please let me explain. If 85% of sermons are man centered, then it’s safe to say that an equal or even greater percentage of believers are not learning biblical truths. Meaning we are not being properly taught who God is and what his will is. Moreover, every misleading sermon is like a Novocain injection, steadily numbing our discernment, while magnifying our emotions to the point that evangelism is all but obsolete. Or, if not obsolete, it is rendered ineffective due to our inability to logically defend our faith. You see, when the focus is placed on ourselves, it’s hard to point the way to the one who is most important, namely Jesus Christ. And if Christ is not the central focal point in all that we preach and teach, then how can we as believers honestly proclaim that the Bible is not a book of fables but the word of God?
My friends, I have not written this as a gloom and doom message, but as a splash of cold water to those who have fallen asleep. My hope and prayer is that we would receive the words given by our leaders with all eagerness…AND… search the scriptures to see if the things they say are true while understanding that they too, are in the same boat as everyone else. No one is perfect and mistakes are made by all; nevertheless, mistakes can be corrected if diligence towards the truth is shown. Diligence not only by the ones preaching the word, but by the ones hearing the word. Let us, as believers, hold those who are in power accountable for their words. I’m not saying question them on every hand, or criticize every word. I am, however, saying lets chew the meat and spit out the bones. The kicker is this: we must study the word ourselves in order to know the difference between the meat and the bone.
The fact that 85% of sermons in America contain more bone than meat is a horrible stat; yet it is not an insurmountable stat if we keep Christ central in our preaching and if believers hold leaders accountable for their words. We all have a role in the Church, and sitting on a pew is not one of them.