The typical sermon in today’s evangelical church makes everybody feel safe, comfortable, and happy. Like the music that opens and closes the Sunday morning service, the sermon is designed to entertain, calm, and lift one’s self-esteem. The audience need not worry about too much theology, too many moral demands, or too many counter-culture exhortations. Learning? You can get that from the History Channel. Sacrifice? It’s time you increased your financial donations. Stretching? That’s for the ladies’ yoga class that meets in the multi-purpose room on Tuesday mornings.
But what if you are among the few that have the blessing of listening to solid, biblically-centered teaching on a Sunday morning? Then may I suggest you make sure you are observing three things.
1) Good preaching should be appreciated. Thank God for the Word and for a preacher who honors God’s revelation enough to study it, submit to it, and faithfully share it with his congregation. Show your gratitude also by follow the example of the Bereans of Acts 17:11; namely, to study the Bible yourself and consistently extend its applications to your life.
2) Good preaching should be applauded. An expository preacher, one well equipped in hermeneutics and holy living, should be hearing from those that benefit from his teaching. He should be supported, encouraged, defended, helped, and honored – to his face, as well as among other church members and to outsiders. So many preachers who bravely stand against the culture (including the soft-headed, me-oriented themes predominant in modern evangelical circles) end up standing alone. Come alongside and give them a hand.
3) Good preaching should be applied. It’s not enough to hear good sermons or even to pat the preacher on the back. The whole purpose of God gifting you with a good Bible preacher is for your ongoing sanctification. His sermons are to give you solutions to moral and intellectual problems, to equip you to do the work of ministry in your various spheres of influence, and to change you more into the image of Christ.
So, if you have a preacher who is studying to know, live, and effectively preach the Word of God? That’s terrific. Appreciate those sermons. Applaud that preacher. And apply the lessons he teaches you from the holy text.
And if you don’t have that kind of preacher?
Go find one.