My long time friend Bobby Key of Miami, Ok. has some timely things to say on the above subject. In this day of gimmickry and high pressure tactics to entice folk into the church in great numbers, and just for numbers sake, his is a welcome voice crying out against the perversions of the gospel and the work of the Lord’s church. Hear him:
Many pulpits are no longer used to impart information. Some freely admit they do not spend their pulpit time teaching and instructing, but rather promoting. Such preaching more and more takes on the spirit of an old time high school pep rally which inflamed school spirit to a white heat and assured victory over the opposing team. This type of preaching appeals to the emotions and feelings of the hearers.
We are not one to rule emotion out of religion; however, a steady diet of subjective and experimental sermonettes is breeding an entire generation of Bible ignorant, apostasy~bound church members. Too much commercialism and gimmickry and too little gospel preaching has produced members who don’t know the difference between the church that Jesus built and the one Joe Smith built.
Those who advocate and practice promotional preaching reason that their hearers will gain Biblical knowledge through Cottage meetings, Bible classes (Bible Bowls, Rap Sessions, Lock-Ins, Retreats, “church” camps, Serendipity’s—whatever that is—youth rallies, etc. WRC). But do they? Are we wiser than Paul who told preachers to “Preach the Word”? I was told in a meeting I was beginning, “Bible preaching, book, chapter, and verse, will not be received in this church. If you want to keep people’s interest you must relate more personal experiences.” Those folk had been brought into the church through “sharing sessions” and the like. Thus, they found Bible preaching dull and uninteresting.
I am frankly alarmed at the testifying that goes on in many churches. I thought our denominational friends had wrung every tear personal testimonies years ago. We have little confidence in men’s testimony, but maintain an unerring confidence in the writings of inspired of men.
True Gospel preaching will reprove, rebuke, and exhort. Saving Bible knowledge will be imparted and loving exhortation will incite the hearer’s response. Blessed is the preacher capable of both instructing in righteousness and moving folk to respond to God’s call.
Preaching has played a vital part in the history of the world. It had always pleased God that men come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved by means of faithful preaching. When God wanted to call His people out of sin, He called for His preachers to do the job. Jesus sent preachers into all the world to preach His gospel to every creature. It was this preaching that brought men to salvation. These men preached the word with fervor and distinctiveness. Oh, how the world needs such preaching today!
The church today needs to sit at the feet of the likes of such pioneer preachers as Hardeman, Lipscomb, Wallace, Nichol, Freed, Elam, Sewell, and such earlier men as Campbell, Stone, and others.
As these early preachers went out, they relied solely upon their Bibles. Their preaching was almost entirely expository…In their presentation of the gospel their phraseology was charged with scripture quotations and references. Oratory was the order of the day, and sermons less than an hour long were never heard of most of them running longer (Search for Ancient Order, Vol. 1, Pg. 128).
If preachers are not careful they tend to give people what they want to hear and not what they need to hear. Paul warned the time would come when people would not endure sound doctrine. From the beginning people have disliked hearing the truth when it convicted them of their sins. For some strange reason some members of the church have decided that sound preaching and teaching is not needed. Some will embrace any kind of false doctrine and not give truth a second glance. Most of the denominations preach more Bible than some “well known” (gimmickry promoting) so called Gospel preachers. Billy Graham has far more doctrine in his programs than some of “our” national TV programs. It is little wonder we are seeing members (and even preachers) from prominent denominational bodies place membership with churches of Christ without conversions.
Brethren, it is time to quit promoting and start to again preaching the doctrine of Christ and that only in all of Christ churches.