If our preaching does not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did.

~ Timothy Keller

05-12-11 @ Richard Goerg, courtesy of iStockphoto

  • “What a sermon, Pastor.”

He’d heard those words hundreds of times before. Each time, the preacher felt his congregation had affirmed that he’d conveyed his message. Yet, deep within his heart, he knew those encouragements were nothing more than luscious morsels for his pride’s insatiable appetite.

  • Every Sunday, he felt he had to best the week before.

The pastor constantly pushed the praise team to crank it up a notch. They added instruments and different styles of worship. He utilized video to capture the young people’s attention. He employed drama and played segments of movies to keep the congregation from getting bored.

Twitter. Facebook. Pinterest. Instagram. He was an expert in all things digital.

  • The pastor confessed he was nothing more than an entertainer.

He tried to cater to everyone. He felt that there was something in the Gospel with which everyone could identify. His intentions were honorable at first, but he now realized that he’d succumbed to the temptation to adapt the message he’d originally preached.

  • The stagnant immaturity of his congregation awakened him.

There was a lot of hand-raising and head-nodding. Some shouted an Amen or two every week. Yet, the people kept living the same way they always did. The gossips talked about everyone in the church. Leaders didn’t serve. People didn’t read their Bibles. Their prayer life was in absentia. The lost weren’t being reached, and the saved didn’t seem to care.

  • God impassioned him with what he had to do.

With his next sermon, the pastor taught the same lesson he had the previous week. No one seemed to notice. Instead, people filed out of the church, shook his hand, and said, “Great sermon, Pastor” … yet again.

The next week he preached the same sermon once more. He got the same response, but from less people. The members had begun to realize what was going on.

  • A murmuring echoed throughout the community.

The next week, the pastor preached the same sermon but with more fire. He took away the entertaining to present just the Gospel message this time.

  • That’s when some leaders warned him that he treaded on thin ice.

They threatened to fire him if he didn’t go back to preaching like they wanted it. One said, “People here want to be entertained – not lectured to. You’ll run everyone off if we don’t tickle their ears a little.”

He knew their disobedience stymied God’s work through them. God’s Spirit impressed upon him to preach the same message until they responded as the Lord desired.

  • The pastor prayed for God’s Word to pierce their hearts.

The next Sunday the pastor preached with great fervor the same message. With tears pouring from his eyes, he shared his heart for God’s Truth. With his voice cracking at times, he proclaimed the Gospel message with everything he had, knowing it very well might be his last sermon in that church.

  • After his passionate exhortation, he left an assistant to do the closing.

The discouraged pastor made his way to the exit doors. On what he knew was his last day as the shepherd of his congregation, he mustered all he had to say goodbye to his flock. Minutes seemed like years, but soon everyone filed out.

  • On this day, he didn’t hear, “What a sermon, Pastor.”

Instead, what he heard was, “What a Savior!” That was the response he had desired to hear. Over and over the members proclaimed it. For many, it was their first time meeting Jesus. For most, it was their first time that they understood the price He’d paid for their sins.

 

For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

~ 1 Corinthians 2:2, NASB

Please let me know what you think.

What effect does the Gospel message have on your life? Has it changed you?