In one sense preachers have always felt pressure. In the past, the position of church minister was respected in the community, along with other leadership roles in society. These days the pressure often feels more cynical, with a world ignoring us until they have some dirt to celebrate.
In another sense, there is an increasing pressure on preachers. In the past people might hear a Billy Graham once every few years, and perhaps they would be exposed to other preachers a little more often. Today people get to listen to some brilliant communicators, often in edited form, on podcasts throughout the week. As preachers we can feel the pressure that comes from expectation built by podcast.
To use an analogy, the famous preacher is a bit like a fine chef in a restaurant (assuming the famous preacher is actually a good preacher!) A periodic meal in a restaurant is a real treat. However, these days, people effectively have the option of fine dining multiple times each day. Then Sunday comes and it is back to normal food for a disappointing change.
Remember that children grow into healthy adults based on a continuing supply of reasonably healthy food. I don’t know many families that offer haut cuisine day in and day out. In the same way, if you are providing the regular diet for your church, know that the bar is not set impossibly high.
Preach messages that are solidly biblical, as clear as you can manage, as engaging as possible, with relevance underlined for your congregation. Every now and again you might manage a stunning illustration, or a particularly satisfying turn of phrase. But for the most part, just decent biblical preaching is the meat and vegetables your church needs to grow healthy and strong. And if they like to listen to a brilliant podcast? Great, encourage it.
2 thoughts on “Your Church Does Not Need a Superstar”
This is a great point. The work which can be finished only by God and the Holy Spirit is all too easy sometimes to take on as our own, creating an unneeded two part stress. The first, on its face is the added stress of “extra requirement” which comes from operating outside our scope of practice. The second, os the stress that comes from a ministry not reaching its potential- because we have the right person, with probably the best motives, doing the wrong thing. At this point, Instead of putting forward even more work, it likely would benefit to spend that “additional work” in prayer and petition to God on behalf of the work we are called to serve.
I also, think a second area, often overlooked because it might not be as obvious as the former, is the reality that congregants need be prepared to engage in sermon hearing and worship. If I am engaged in prayer, study of God’s Word, and the warfare that is innate in even the most regular Monday through Saturday, then even the most non-superstar-ish-like-type sermon will likely pierce my heart with Truth, encouragement, and accountability. However, I don’t believe this preparedness will happen naturally, and if we desire it then we must cultivate the expectation.
Culturally, I believe cultivating the latter is especially important, due to the modern expectation of getting-something that the entertainment culture of out time has fostered. This must be actively and intentionally overcome through leadership that reorients congregations to the idea and act of worship as something that is brought by each of us for God- Not something we get from someone else after going to a place.
Thanks very much for this Peter. As a listener, and not a preacher, I can affirm that this is exactly what my heart longs for—just consistent biblical teaching, not flare! I continue to be encouraged by reading your posts here. Thank you!