Pastors: Remember Your Hearers

It's vitally important that we, as pastors, remember the people to whom we are preaching and worshiping with on Sunday mornings. We need to remember the lives they are living as sinful people in a sinful world and all the hurts and suffering that come with those realities. And remembering those realities, it is vitally important that we herald a message that can bring comfort and restoration, rather than one that simply amuses them to death.

John Piper writes in The Hidden Smile of God:

When I stand to welcome the people to worship on Sunday morning, I know that there are William Cowpers in the congregation. There are spouses who can barely talk. There are sullen teenagers living double lives at home and school. There are widows who still feel the amputation of a fifty-year partner. There are single people who have not been hugged for twenty years. There are men in the prime of their lives with cancer. There are moms who have carried two tiny caskets. There are soldiers of the cross who have risked all for Jesus and bear the scars. Shall we come to them with a joke?

They can read the comics every day. What they need from me is not more bouncy, frisky smiles and stories. What they need is a kind of joyful earnestness that makes the broken heart feel hopeful and helps the ones who are drunk with trifles sober up for greater joys.

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