Pulpit Talk Is Never Nothing

When you preach, what you say may or may not be biblical, accurate, helpful, engaging or even Christian.  But one thing it can’t be is nothing.  There is no neutral.

1. Poor handling of the Bible is not nothing. Some preachers may read the text and then say whatever they want, failing absolutely to communicate the meaning, the intent or the relevance of the text.  But they aren’t doing nothing.  You can’t judge dismiss it and say, “Oh, that’s just so and so, we know what he’s like…”  Truth is that such poor handling leaves an impression on the impressionable, it trains the incompetent to greater incompetence in Bible handling, it adds fuel to the fire of the skeptic who silently evaluates and concludes that there really is no substance to Christianity.  It may be damaging, but it is never nothing.

2. Improper application of the Bible is not nothing. It’s amazing what some people will seek to apply to the listeners.  The disciples met with the risen Jesus in the evening, so we should be sure to attend the evening service at church.  How is this any better than reading Noah and conclude the spiritual and godly are the few still prepared to throw birds through windows?  Whatever might be said of this kind of applicational tripe, you cannot say, “Oh, that’s just preacher so and so, we know what he’s like…”  Truth is that such improper application is harmful both in its impact and in its failure to impact.  People whose lives are in need of the balm of the Word, in need of the conviction of the Spirit, in need of the wooing of Christ, in need of encouragement, of soul care, of love . . . these people get only guilt, pressure, nonsense, harm and damage.  Whatever this type of application may be, it is never nothing.

I suppose I could list all manner of other things here . . . unthought-through illustrations, inaccessible explanations, anecdotal content that serves the main idea not one whit.  The preacher preaches and there is no sense in suggesting that every word that proceeds is automatically a fruit of time spent with the Lord.  Some words spoken are not befitting for the Christian pulpit.  Yet no words spoken are merely nil.  Each word, each sound, each expression, each detail . . . it all does something.  Let’s be sure to make it all count for eternity.

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2 thoughts on “Pulpit Talk Is Never Nothing

  1. This is a hard one! I think the only way is to combine pursuing a genuine relationship with the preacher that would allow for constructive conversation, along with moving the church toward an ethos where there is a means by which to give constructive feedback to preachers.

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