Thursday, April 26, 2007

Can we please talk about what we're FOR, not what we're AGAINST?



I have developed a habit of listening to preaching podcasts while I’m getting ready in the mornings. Every day I listen to a sermon on line. I listen to people preach who are famous, some not so famous, some who are personal friends. Some challenge me, some bring change to my life, some refresh me, and some flat out irritate me. Although I like to look at the positive, today I do want to mention what irritates me. Because truly, it’s the fact that some preachers do not focus on the positive! Negativity is my complaint.

Lately I’ve been listening to a preacher-acquaintance who has planted a church. He’s a great preacher and I enjoy listening to what he has to say, except for one thing. Each time he preaches, he casts a little vision for the church in each sermon. Now, I think that’s great. But the problem is the way in which he does that. Instead of talking about the positives of his church, he bashes everyone else “in comparison” to his new church. This is typically a paragraph out of every sermon he has preached for the past ten weeks. For anonymity’s sake, we will call his church “Northgate church” of Brooklyn, New York.

“Friends, when you come to Northgate church, you won’t find us serving up latte like some other churches. You’ll find us serving up the Holy Ghost! In fact, you won’t find a dead dried up atmosphere like the other churches in town. What you’ll find here at Northgate are people who are excited about Jesus! When people go to the other churches in Brooklyn, they’ll find people who don’t believe in healing anymore. But when you come to Northgate, you’ll find we aren’t like that. No, no! At Northgate, we’re not catering to people who just want to have a 20 minute sermon and run out the doors. Instead, we are committed to bring you the full counsel of God’s Word! You won’t just take your coffee and run like they do at the community church across town. We are committed to being different than all those other churches!”

I have listened to about ten of this pastor's recent sermons, and you probably wonder, “why?" Well the reason is, the pastor of this church IS a great preacher. Everything else he says minus the above paraphrased paragraph is mind-blowingly anointed. But each week you have to endure the negative paragraph about all these other churches. My thought is this…why couldn’t he just say:

“Friends, when you come to Northgate church, you’re going to experience the power of God! You’re going to find people who are excited about Jesus! You are going to find, there’s healing in the house! You’re going to hear God’s powerful, life changing Word! We are absolutely committed to you understanding God's Word and experiencing Him to the fullest!!!”

There…now isn’t that better? Same vision casting, minus the church bashing. My question is, why do people have to bash others in order to cast their vision? Simply state what you are FOR, not what you are AGAINST.

Incidentally, my own church, Northside, is remarkably what he describes his own church being. Although we do serve coffee, we also believe in healing, aren’t dead and dried up, bring the full counsel of God’s Word, and we certainly expect the Holy Ghost to show up. But I don’t need to bash somebody else for all that to happen. Just let the ministry speak for itself.

Why don’t I call this preacher and tell him this? Because it’s not my place to…he’s only a far away acquaintance (we’ve just met and shook hands a few times, we’re not really on a personal level where I would talk to him about something like that) but I hope God speaks to him about it. Because he’s one of the most dynamic preachers I’ve ever heard, and I would hate for something like this to turn anyone off from listening to him who doesn’t have the tenacity like I do to “take the meat – chuck the bone” and listen for his good points like I do.

2 comments:

Rich Tatum said...

Deanna, insightful comments.

I once attended a church in Texas during my college days where the pastor, in nearly every message, demonstrated how we, the church, did not measure up to the standard of the Word.

For the first several months, this "in-house" bashing was just below the threshold of my notice. But over time, I began to realize that while this pastor's messages were all brilliantly sound exegetically and theologically, they were all downers. I consistently left church feeling guilty, beat-down, and like a failure.

I thought I was alone in this impression until I asked one of my professors, who attended the church, his impression of this style of preaching, and he confirmed my view. Like you demonstrated with your excerpt above, he showed me how he "re-edits" the sermon in his head so it isn't so negative.

My impression is that the negative sermon is, by far, the easiest sermon for Bible college graduates and young preachers to deliver. When you see yourself as a hammer, everything — and everybody — is a nail-head waiting to be pounded.

For those who are mature, I believe, they grow past that and try to find ways to challenge the church through encouragement and gentleness, using the rod when necessary, but relying on the staff more.

I know that with my own children, the easiest thing to do is yell at them for their failures. If I want my kids to flourish, I have to go beyond that and praise them for their success and give them a vision for doing better, not fill their heads with nightmares of doing poorly.

It's a lesson more preachers could learn, too.

Rich
BlogRodent

Pastor Deanna said...

Thank you Rich...appreciate you reading and taking time to comment.