Why You Shouldn’t Preach This Sunday

In many churches, the preaching pastor stands as the primary leader of the church as well.  While some are moving away from that model (which I hope to address soon), this stands as the primary model in many churches.  But even if you’re not the main preaching pastor, you may still have a responsibility to bring the Word regularly in your local church.

And maybe you shouldn’t.  Maybe you shouldn’t be preaching to your people or to any other people.  You may exegete the Word correctly, have the proper application, phenomenal delivery, and are loved by your people. Still–you may need to sit.  Here’s why:

  1. You don’t believe the Bible is fully inspired (breathed out) by God.  Paul urged Paul to preach the Word because this Word was the only reliable word of and from God (2 Timothy 3:16-4:5).  The Word is enough to make the man of God mature and complete, lacking nothing.  If you stand before God’s people questioning the plenary verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, you should not preach.
  2. You’re preaching because it’s a job, not a calling.  Paul wrote:  “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom that we present everyone mature in Christ.  For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:28-29).  God provides the energy for the struggle due to His calling and galvanizing of our hearts.  If you’re preaching outside of the call, but only due to this being a job, you should not preach! 
  3. You don’t love the people to whom you preach.  Read Acts 20:17-38 and tell me honestly that Paul did not love the Ephesians church and the elders with whom he served.  If you fail to love your people do to a haughtiness and arrogance due to whatever reason, then you should not preach.
  4. You refuse to adapt to the context in which God has you.  God places us where He places us.  He is sovereign Lord of all, and therefore He knows where He has His people to serve.  I remember times when I allowed my personal preferences to be elevated to tests of faith when it came to programs, music, the works. God had to work some hard things in my life for me to realize that He knew where He wanted me, and that brought joy.  If there’s a refusal over a long period of time to adapt to the context in which God has you, then you shouldn’t preach.
  5. You’re looking to the next venture rather than the venture God has you now.  Do you see the place where you serve as the proverbial stepping stone?  Are you using the church in which you lead to simply gain experience for the next sweet spot of service?  If you are using your people for your own personal gain and not their pastoral well-being, you should not preach.
  6. If you harbor unforgiveness to a member without going and setting things straight.  Matthew 5:21-26 is clear about unforgiveness and anger toward a brother.  We should even leave our time of worship to set it straight. Even when people say or do things that slander you with false or misguided information and intentions, God still calls you to forgive.  If you refuse to do this, don’t preach on Sunday.
  7. Your marriage/children need you–and you need to step away for a season.  Your family comes first outside of God.  If your marriage is falling apart and your children are on the verge of stepping off a cliff, then you should step away to care for them as the only husband to your wife and the only father to your children.  Hopefully, your church will understand, but even if they don’t, step away.  Don’t preach.  Be there as Christ for your family.

How Preaching Hard Texts Endears You to Your People

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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).
  4. 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?