Pastors & Churches: Listen & Do Likewise

How do you grow a church? You and I don't. Christ does. But for the sake of this discussion that is a question that is frequently asked in the arena of church growth. It has been rightly said that "what you get them with is what you keep them with." Therefore if you get people to come to your church because of a great praise team or great music, then you must keep them with the same. If you get people to come to church with a great children's ministry then you must keep them with a great children's ministry. If you get them with a great personality behind the pulpit, then you must keep them with a great personality behind the pulpit. If you get them with the gospel, then you keep them with the gospel.

Thabiti Anyabwile has recently written a post on his blog that should be mandatory reading for every pastor and every church member everywhere. Stop reading this blog and read the entire post on his blog right now entitled, "Be Careful How You Build: A Plea For Boring Preaching."

In case you do not do that here are a few excerpts that hopefully will change your mind about reading the entire post and about the issue of which he is addressing. Thabiti mentions that the danger of building a church on an exagerrated personality are two-fold:

First, it traps the preacher in the entertainment expectations of so many churchgoers. If we entertain rather than edify, we're not far from becoming the little monkey in the red suit that does tricks on the street corner for his owner. And it's awfully difficult to escape that arrangement once you start building the pulpit on an exaggerated personality like that.

The second danger of building on personality is the congregation gets very accustomed to two things: feeling as the end of worship and lazy listening as the means of worship. If we entertain people rather than instruct and edify, we will create a body of people who want the fleeting feelings of a moment rather than the meat of the word. They will want a glitzy god rather than the glorious God of Scripture. They will not think they have "worshipped" or served God until they have felt something or been moved in some way. That's emotionalism, not genuine emotion that comes from the truth.

And a congregation accustomed to being entertained will be a spiritually lazy congregation. Entertainment increasingly puts the cookies on the bottom shelf (actually the floor). It makes everything easy to reach, requires little/nothing of the one entertained, and encourages comfort and ease. In short, today's entertainment generally makes people lazy. The same is true in a church if entertainment is the dominant philosophy. People are not made into Bereans, searching the Scripture to verify the truth. They're reduced to blank-faced popcorn and goober eating moviegoers, taking in whatever glimmers on the silver screen. Except the silver screen is increasingly the church service.

Well, I've just about reprinted the whole post. I couldn't resist--it's just that good. I might as well conclude with the the plea Thabiti gives,

So here's a plea. Please, please Lord build your church on "boring" preaching and "regular" personalities owned and fired by your Holy Spirit, so that your people will find excitement and emotion that comes from the truth and their affections will rest on You rather than the earthen vessel that proclaims your Name.

And please, please brothers, let us be "weak" in the pulpit that Christ might be seen as strong. Let us preach in the personality the Lord gave us, only careful not to build the church on it.

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