Friday, May 30, 2008

Preaching to entertain? May it never be.

Tonight I had the opportunity to speak at Growing Deep/Growing Strong
(GDGS). New Hope’s membership class. I was given the topic
‘Salvation’. They gave me the outline and the accompanying scriptures
and told me that I had 20 minutes to preach. This was a topic that I
had spoken about at previous GDGS’s. However, this time I had this
nagging conviction. While preparing for the message, I found that each
point was chock full of necessary, God glorifying material. The points
were as follows.

1. Who God is.
- God is love.
- God is holy.
- God is just.

2. Who we are.
- We were created good but became evil.
- We deserve to die.
- We are spiritually helpless.

3. The Significance of Christ.
- He was God and also man.
- He became our substitute.
- He offers us eternal life as a free gift (grace).

4. Our responsibility. (What do we do with Jesus.)

As you can see each of these points could easily be a year long sermon
series!! SO what was I to do. I didn’t want to simply skim over some
topics for the sake of time. There were definitely people there
tonight that had said yes to Jesus but had no idea what that meant.
They had no idea what implication that had on how they should live
their lives. And so in preparing for the message I prayed and typed
and prayed some more and typed some more. I tried to allow more of the
Spirit to guide the direction of the sermon rather than me.

So I decided that I would preach what I had prepared and not skimp on
any subjects. Long story short, I went for 50 minutes instead of the
allotted 20 minutes. I got off the stage with some of the staffers
looking very annoyed at me. But I got off that stage with a peace in
my heart, still hoping and praying that the words that proceeded from
my mouth had glorified God and cut into some hearts.

Afterwards I got the usual “Good job up there.”, “Great message.”.
Some were convicted and told me so. Some were surprised that God
pursues us not necessarily for our own good but more for His glory.
Then I got the most random comment I had ever received, “I was very
entertained. Thank you very much. Very entertaining.” Did this lady
not get it? I had just told her how horrible her sins are to God. How
huge and perfect and loving and terrible our God can be. I just finished
telling her how desperate she should be for God instead of trying to
find satisfaction and purpose in other things. And she was entertained
by that?!?

May it never be again. I pray that the Lord would not let me utter
another word that would simply entertain someone. Biblical preaching
is not about entertainment and how much people laugh at your jokes.
Although humor is an awesome tool to get into people’s hearts,
stirring up affections, emotions in people’s hearts for God is what
it’s all about. My pastor from back home in Simi Valley, CA once told
us that every preacher has a choice to make. Whether they want to be a
good preacher or a powerful preacher. Good preachers work on
communication skills, story telling, humor etc. All good things. But
powerful preachers are ones that put down their pride and allow the
Holy Spirit to direct and guide and speak.