For the time will come when men 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. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Paul warns Timothy about one of the most distressing realities of being a Christian leader. No matter how faithful and true one is to preaching and ministering the gospel, there are times when some people will turn their ears and hearts away from the truth and will follow teachers and prophets not sent by God. In order to suit their own desires, they would rather hear fables than facts. Sadly, there are people in the church who grow weary of the “same old gospel.” They are unwilling to listen to a message of repentance from sin. Therefore, they seek a clever new message. They seek to be entertained or stimulated or have their egos lifted up. We need to guard our hearts and ears from this dangerous condition. As good stewards of what we listen to, we should realize this: Not everything preached from the Word is OF the Word! John Wimber
Our Theme: ON CHRIST AND HIS WORD.
After many years of pastoring in one church, on occasion a well-meaning person will come up to me and politely comment on how I’m constantly preaching about the kingdom of God. I’ve come to learn over the years that this line usually is code language for “Hey pastor, I’m really getting tired of your sermons!” In most cases like this, I usually flash my goofy smile and say something nice like: “You’re right. I am a pretty boring preacher, aren’t I?” So the next Sunday, I bring a new joke or a new story, but then go right back to my familiar theme of teaching and preaching on the kingdom message of Jesus. And yes, people do leave. After numerous years in one church, I guess it’s inevitable that folks will grow tired of me and kingdom messages. As I see it, I’m doing pretty well. I’ve been preaching on the kingdom now for nearly thirty years and counting. Jesus got crucified for doing that after only three!
But seriously, I do know, in my heart, that John Wimber was right when he warned pastors that there will be times when God’s Word will simply not be enough for some of our impatient parishioners.
But, don’t get me wrong.
I’ve worked hard over the years to improve my preaching and teaching skills and as a pastoral coach; I encourage other pastors to do the same. I’m always looking for creative new ways to tell the same old gospel message, and I know, for a fact, that I’ve improved a lot since my first sermons I gave back in the mid-1980s.
But here’s the rub. Regardless of the many ways we want to spin it, people in our society have glaringly short attention spans and society teaches us to want something new in our lives on a moment-by-moment basis. Madison Avenue learned a long time ago that the American public grows tired and weary very easily, especially when we are presented with the same message regularly. So itchy ears and impatient eyes have become the motivators behind nearly everything we say and do in our culture today.
Hmm. Did God see this coming, or not?
So what’s the cure?
On one hand, while I’m fully supportive of doing everything we can to keep our messages life-giving, I’m growing more and more suspicious of our seeker-sensitive mentality in American church life. Do you know the kind I’m talking about? It’s that push we see in so many churches to feed the need of the consumer, working really hard to entertain our parishioners versus fulfilling our Jesus-given commission to make real disciples.
As Wimber states it, pastors are called to be good stewards of a gospel message that isn’t always good news to people who are looking to be entertained.
On the other hand, I believe being a good steward of God’s Word also means asking him for both wisdom and power in bringing the good news of Jesus to twenty-first century listeners with three-minute attention spans. In a society where instant communication is the tool of choice, I believe the Holy Spirit can and will empower a generation of kingdom-loving, kingdom-believing pastors to find creative and productive ways to love “the hell” out of people, while still bringing the ancient truths of Jesus of Nazareth into this modernized world.
May God be with us all as we do our very best to preach Jesus in a world where Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social networking are king and queen of the day.
God, changing times are nothing new to you. Your message is ancient but you’ve always been faithful in helping your servants to bring your Word in digestible packages for each generation in which your people live. Father, while many may be growing tired and weary of your holy Word, help me to keep it fresh and alive in my heart so that my life reflects that freshness to others. For your name’s sake. Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO PONDER
- Am I bored with the same old-same old of religion?
- If so, what can I do in bringing more of Jesus’ eternal life into me so that I won’t grow weary in my attempts to bring God’s Word to a generation that seemingly has become bored with God and tired of the tried and true gospel message?
- Am I trying to entertain my listeners out of my own strength or am I truly pushing into the presence of God, allowing his goodness to flow from my life into those I hope to serve?
Between Easter 2016 and the end of August, we are sharing with you a blog series we call The Wisdom of Wimber: As I See It. In order to keep all 64 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Wisdom of Wimber page for ease of use. Might we also suggest that you order a copy or two of our book by the same title! It’s available in both paperback and e-book formats…and will soon be available in Spanish! Click here for more info. ENJOY!
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