Show me a nation with weak preaching and I will show you a nation in trouble. Wherever the church is weak around the globe, the darkness appears strong. This is true because “righteousness exalts a nation” (Proverbs 14:34). Identify a country with a weak church and you will likely find several common killers; spiritual apathy, watered down preaching, a corrupt government, violence in the streets and people robbed of their God-ordained dreams.
Most of us live in a church environment where we are conditioned and encouraged to discover new and innovative ways of reaching our culture with the glorious gospel. Innovation is a great thing, but innovation is only great to the extent that it refuses to dilute the gospel at the expense of the culture.
What is the only preaching context in which our Lord has moved mightily upon individuals, communities, regions and nations in the past? Does he not tend to move throughout the history of the church exclusively in the context of preaching that’s more like Moody, Spurgeon, Wesley, Sunday, Campbell, Finney, Roberts, and Graham? Has the Spirit of God ever moved in a mighty paradigm shifting manner throughout our history without strong, pointed biblical preaching that demonstrated a love for the lost by calling people to repentance?
Passion for God
An otherwise biblically apathetic public wants and needs to see more than a remnant of passion concerning the things of God. An ongoing, authentic, rich and vibrant anointed presentation of the gospel concerning the grace and extravagant love of God stuns an otherwise apathetic culture. Most people lounge about in a tepid bath of superficiality and general spiritual malaise.
When the people of America exit a church service, should they not be convinced that the very experience behind them cannot in any way be duplicated at the Kroger or at an office get-together? Sometimes we can get things a bit upside down.
The Holy Spirit is busy preparing the hearts of the lost to receive a strong, anointed, biblical message from God. This kind of preaching is based on the calling already placed upon the preacher. The Holy Spirit doesn’t really prepare hearts for much less. If we deliver less than what people are prepared by the Spirit to receive and expect, we shouldn’t be surprised that they remain unresponsive. Show me strong pulpiteers in any nation and you will see godly servants, reorienting the spiritual compass of their fellow citizens. Pulpiteers lead congregations into God-chasing prayer for an outpouring of the Spirit in our land. As the Spirit increases, violence decreases.
Innovation not compromise
To recapture the moves of God in our rich past, we must pursue innovation that doesn’t compromise the old rugged cross at the altar of a mistaken relevance. The single most relevant message was written 2000 years ago and is not the 2000th attempt in this century to dance around the truth.
What should we expect of our preachers? Those who accepted a genuine call to preach the word of God should without exception be preaching the word of God. Those who answered the call should be calling people to a place of depth and sacrifice. Our preachers should be cultivating an environment of reverence and respect for the authority of God as recognition for authority in our culture erodes. Our preachers should leave nothing on the table; they are called to do the work of an evangelist, in the pulpit and out.
There is far too much at stake to limp about with watered-down oracles littered with apologies for fulfilling a divine call to preach the word of God. What should we expect of our preachers? Everything in the Book shared with the passion and conviction with which it was recorded and protected.
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3).
Dr. Gary Hewins is the President of Lifepoints, www.lifepoints.org, a coaching and consulting ministry to ministry leaders and preachers and the Senior Pastor of Community Bible Church in the picturesque mountains of Highlands, NC.