“I stopped going to church,” she tells me
“Well, I need deeper teachings. What comes my way on Sundays is very shallow.”
I know my friend well enough to know this is not an excuse. I’ve also been around long enough to know how valid her complaint is. Let’s face it, on most Sundays, much of what we hear from the pulpits in America is rather shallow. By shallow, I mean elementary. But, how does a teaching become elementary? By hearing it over and over again. So, what many Christians are asking their pastors is, “Teach me something new!”
Did you hear about the young pastor who’d just been hired by a church?
On his first Sunday at the new church, he preached an amazing message. The church council was hi-fiving each other for having the fortitude and the wisdom to have hired such a great preacher.
The following Sunday, half way through his message, everyone who’d been at church the week before, knew the pastor was preaching exactly the same message, but the council members figured that was for the sake of some who’d not heard the original message.
However on the third Sunday, things really got tense when the young man preached the same message again. After the service was over, the council members pull the man aside and began to question him.
“Don’t you have any other messages?” they demanded.
“Of course, I do,” said the young man.
“Then, why repeat the same sermon over and over again? Preach something new!”
That’s when the young man said, “I will, as soon as, you start practicing what I’ve been teaching you these last three weeks.”
I do understand that the above story may sound like a practice in futility, or it could very well be an excellent poster story for the definition of insanity—repeating the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. Unfortunately, for years, pastors have thought that all the church needs is another good message to change the lives of all the pew occupants, thus preaching the Word has become the crown of the church service.
It’s also fair to ask, “Is the above pastor modeling what he’s preaching? Is he walking the talk?”
However, I believe for the most part, our problem isn’t with shallow teachings, but the shallow way we practice these so called, “shallow teachings” we’ve been hearing. And, by doing so, as the book of James says, we’ve simply been making fools out of ourselves. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it ways.” James. 1:21
How many times have we heard teachings on Christ’s greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
Would you consider another homely on the above verse a “shallow” teaching? Then, let me ask you a question—this not only goes to church members, but especially to pastors.
Are you practicing this “shallow” teaching? How many of your next-door neighbors do you know by name?
If you can’t obey this “shallow” teaching, how can you handle a “deeper” teaching?