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Question:
I’m amazed at how many casual, poor and Biblically uneducated Christian teachers there are today. It seems to be more about popularity and self fulfillment than teaching. What are your thoughts about this?

Answer:

It amazes me too.. it’s not so much that every person has to be some great dynamic teacher, but the responsibility seems to be taken so casually despite the Scriptural warning “let not many of you be teachers”…. The reason? God holds us accountable to teach TRUTH, and be accurate with his Word (rightly handle). It’s not about personality or charisma… it’s about taking the responsibility of being a teacher of God’s Word VERY seriously.

All these “sermonettes” (as a reader said yesterday) and fluffy little feel good humanistic ear tickling (is that enough adjectives?) devotionals and messages are like stuffing sugar and fried food in your mouth all the time. Believers get fat, lazy and unhealthy eating this spiritual fast food all the time.

I know a Pastor who prides himself on never going over :20 minutes in teaching, and the best of his teaching is like an average high school devotional. Why? It’s what people want. It keeps “his people” happy with him. It’s sad to know that everyone who clamors for this type of “sermon” is starving to death spiritually week after week. I just want to shake him by the neck and tell him that he is SQUANDERING his God given opportunity and responsibility to feed, shepherd and spiritually challenge those whom God has graciously put in his circle of influence.

This same church recently had a blowup plastic football hanging from the Cross behind the pulpit to advertise the upcoming Vacation Bible School. With that type of mentality, what can you expect?

Sadly, it is indicative of the atmosphere in Christianity today that has largely turned to marketing techniques, sales methodology, entertainment and “meeting needs” as the primary purpose of the ekklessia (the assembly of Believers).

We use emotionally appealing marketing terms straight from Madison avenue (vintage, modern, overdrive, dynamic, journey, purpose, potential, connection, discovery, destiny, abundant, etc) under the guise of shaking traditionalism. There is nothing innately wrong with those words, but they expose a larger issue in modern American Christianity. We have to battle hard in the ever growing competition for families and members needed to support the expanding and expensive church complexes that seek to serve affluent Believers with a variety of services, programs, facilities and entertainment choices. We have growth experts, church marketing experts and seminars, church expansion financing experts…. It is the professional business of “church” and it is BIG business.

Unfortunately, this too often (but NOT ALWAYS) leads to the need to teach and present messages that keep people happy (and thus, financially supporting the “ministry” work). Feel good messages of prosperity, happiness, abundance, purpose and personal fulfillment attract crowds and keep them. There is increasingly LESS place for teaching the depths of fundamental Christian doctrines, serious messages on sanctification and purity, and we are already past any need for teaching on lowliness and humility (ie. Puritan type teaching). The messages of self-esteem and self-worth, personal purpose, abundance and individual fulfillment are far more effective at keeping members than teaching on the awful state of our sinful flesh or the filthiness of our best righteousness.

Yes, there most certainly is a balance between teaching the uplifting and the convicting… but that balance rarely exists anymore. In large part, it’s all “feel good”, positive, motivating and personally elevating. Even America’s Most Popular Pastor stated on national television that God has not called him to teach about sin. I would have to question what “god” called him who told him to ignore half the Bible when he teaches.

The point is, it is this emerging atmosphere of frivolity, ear tickling and the extravagant nature of the “church business” today that has brought us to a famine of serious, uncompromising Bible teaching in general. Make no mistake, I’m not talking about screaming, sweating, spit-flying, hellfire and brimstone preaching. I’m talking about Bible teachers and preachers who proclaim ALL aspects of God’s Word, both positive and negative, happy and convicting, light and dark, hard and easy, popular and unpopular without regards to popularity, recognition or success (personal or “the ministry”).

It is the combined lure of money, popularity, success and the demands by Christian masses for their “needs” to be met that entice a growing number of people to 1) want to be the “teacher”, the lead personality, the founder, the “man”, and 2) to teach what is “popular” and will attract and keep the people needed for a “successful” ministry.

To be balanced, this is not a broad stroke of all churches, preachers, teachers or ministries… of course not. There are plenty of great assemblies of Believers who God would be pleased with. However, we should not simply ignore the obvious and growing problem of “teaching” that is compromised in order to appeal to the masses, and the number of people who take Bible teaching and preaching far too casually, and too often for the purpose of personal aggrandizement.

It is at epidemic proportions in American Christianity. Believers should be aware and wary of it lest the ear tickling entice them as well. It should cause us to evaluate what the Christian life is truly all about (social events, support groups, programs and getting needs met?). It should drive us back TO THE BIBLE as our primary source of teaching instead of followers of popular teachers, movements or ministries (“I am of Paul, I am of Apollos”).

Answers like this are difficult because they just get me labeled as “negative” and judgmental. I guess I can’t be worried about ear tickling or popularity when I’m writing about ear tickling and popularity, huh?

So quit reading this, and go get your Bible out. Ten thousand words from me aren’t worth one verse from God’s Word.

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