Whereas conventional wisdom in most evangelical circles dictates that pastors would do well to avoid the hard texts, my contention is that pastors should never shy away from this. While the Joel Osteens and the Robert Schullers of the world will shy away from such dealings , I believe that many in our pews are just wanting a pastor who will deal directly with what the Bible says and address the issue at hand.
A case in point: in my previous church, I preached on two rather “hard texts” two Sundays in a row: one dealing with the role of women in the church, the other on the necessity of giving. After each of those sermons, one of my deacons came out and said, “Man, I thought you’d be black and blue right now — you really laid it out there.” But the reaction couldn’t have been different. By the grace and glory of God, I received thank you’s for being willing to tackle such issues and helping to make things clear. That will happen more often than not! What joy that brings to a preacher and leader!
Why should we preach the hard texts as well as the other types to our people?
- Those texts are in the Scriptures! Obvious, yes. But I have had well-meaning ministers tell me that just because it is in the Bible does not necessarily mean it will be appropriate to preach on. This is why I make the case for expositional preaching: if forces you to deal with a text that your flesh may tempt you to avoid.
- For all the talk about our people despising authority, I believe they are looking for solid ground on which to stand. We all are. All this noise about postmodernism winning the day is far too premature. It may be prevalent, but it hasn’t won anything. If anything, our culture feels more in the dark than ever because many people’s spiritual journey is leading them down some deadends. Preachers must never forget the supernatural transformational power of the Scriptures that are breathed out by the Spirit of God himself! Never give up preaching! The world may deem it folly, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).
- People, especially Christians, long to be dealt with honestly. Many in my generation are becoming angry at the church for their failure to teach them the things of the faith. They praise God for churches sharing the gospel with them and showing them Jesus, but afterwards they become afraid of being too doctrinal (read: divisive) and therefore they do not “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
- People feel patronized when pastors fail to deal with a text or issue. When pastors avoid these texts, they are in so many words telling their people, “You really can’t handle this right now.” Yet, pastors who stay with their churches and invest their time in their people can take them along slowly and help them step-by-step. Young pastors especially need to remember that you don’t need to tell them everything you know (or think you know) in one sermon. Pour yourself out into your people and teach them with patience (1 Timothy 4:13-16).
What do you think?