What is left unsaid...
Through John at Blogotional I found this whole discussion about preaching going on on several blogs. Well, I’m not a pastor. But I’m very interested in teaching (I teach children’s church and sometimes youth and I love discussions about the bible and our faith). And it seemed interesting to me to look at some questions from “the other side”. Which means from the viewpoint of those who listen to sermons.
Mick at Unveiled Face asked the question if the application part of pastors’ sermons was constrained by culture or by the pastors’ own experiences and lives. He came up with some topics, e.g. keeping oneself unstained from the world and the question of watching TV, submission of wives, leadership by husbands and servanthood of leaders.
I read through this list and thought I’m really interested in the answers. Well, maybe all of those taking part in the discussion talk about those issues. But I have not really heard sermons or received teaching in church on any of these issues. Until a few years ago I attended the German Protestant Church (which is mainly Lutheran) and my pastor never talked about controversial topics like those as far as I can remember. I received some very valuable instruction by a pastor at a pentecostal church I visited once a month with a friend and at the church I attended during my semester in Norway. Now I am a member of an international protestant church. I really appreciate my pastor. He’s great. But I miss challenging sermons. I don’t want to feel all cuddly and good about myself when I leave church. I desire edification, instruction, some serious teaching on God’s will for my life and all those more difficult topics.
And then it just makes me wonder why my pastor does not do sermons about them. Maybe because we are such a diverse congregation with many different denominational backgrounds. Maybe because many are probably at the starting point of their faith and he does not want to scare them or drive them away, but thinks that other topics are better for them. Maybe he considers the topics too controversial. Although I’d then prefer a sermon about them where all different understandings are explained and he takes a stand for his understanding than no sermon about it at all.
Concerning Mick’s example of watching TV: I’d prefer a pastor to take a stand even if he watches lots of TV himself. I do not expect my pastor to be perfect, but I want a clear teaching of what the bible says about a topic. I’d appreciate bold teaching of the truth, even if some (or I myself) might first feel offended or some might even leave. There are many issues I am interested in or even struggle with and I earnestly would love to hear sermons about it. I study the bible, I read books and stuff on the internet, I discuss it with others, but still I desire pastoral teaching. So I hope that pastors will not be worried about speaking against cultural trends going away from the bible, the fear of people leaving their church or things in their own lives, but give us God's truth on all issues.