Where Do You Put the Cookies?

I have heard it said many times in the context of advice being given to pastors, with well-meaning and godly intentions, "Take the cookies down from the top shelf and put them where everyone can get to them." The meaning being to make sure that you preach in such a way that everyone can understand it and it's easy and simple.

Unfortunately that advice, though given with the best intentions, has gone to the extreme to where much of what is claimed to be preaching in churches has been stripped of doctrine and is all easy, simple, "how to" messages that everyone can understand and everyone is comfortable hearing.

I have some hang ups about that advice. I can never preach in such a way that everyone understands it and everyone is comfortable with what I preach because not everyone to whom I preach is a believer. If the heart has not been changed and God's Spirit has not awakened the sinner to the glorious truth of the Gospel and all of God's Word then it does not matter how easy I try to make it, they will never get it. And in my attempt to make it "easy" and "clear" I will tend to ignore and neglect key and essential teachings of Scripture because it may be too difficult or too hard to understand.

If you read through 1 Thessalonians you find that Paul addressed some pretty "hard" concepts to these new believers. He discussed everything from God's choice in election to sanctification to the Second Coming of the Lord. I think Paul had the right idea and that is not to say that we as pastors should ever intentionally use big words to impress or sound superior. God, guard us from that and may we be quick to repent when we do so in our pride. We need to always be faithful in laboring in the Word and working hard to explain and teach it to the people God has called us to shepherd. That is the primary element of the calling and responsibility of a pastor.

But I think Paul had it right and I think his answer to the question, "Where do you put the cookies?" would maybe be something along the lines of, "Leave the cookies where God placed them and trust and expect God to grow people taller through His Holy Spirit where they can reach them, open the jar, take the cookie out, and consume it with great delight!"

Pastors, "Leave the cookies alone."

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