Thursday, September 19, 2013
The Preacher’s Corner
There’s plenty of work to be done
Our Presbyterian friends over Greenville way are without a pastor and have had some guest preachers to fill the pulpit. Some time back there was a guest who was particularly longwinded and boring. A friend of mine had a hard time enduring the discourse, and was surprised to see one of his buddies a few pews ahead smiling throughout in abject serenity.
When the service finally ended, my friend asked his buddy how he suffered through that harangue in such good humored appearance. His buddy confessed, “I got through it the way I get through every sermon. I played 18 holes of mental golf!”
Some of my Holly Springs men tell me they do the same thing, only one says he plays basketball — it’s a better workout.
All this tells me that in our time long sermons may not be the most effective way of reaching people for Jesus. I am not sure they ever were, although there is a story about Governor Carroll of Tennessee, back in the 1820s, who once heard Gideon Blackburn preach for two and a half hours in a graveyard, and told a bystander that he could have listened to him preach all day.
Perhaps Governor Carroll was a connoisseur of preaching, or there was just a lot less to do in those days.
I believe I see a trend in our churches where people want to serve God with their hands and feet, doing active things for Jesus, rather than attending lots of services and hearing someone else talk. This is certainly true of the churches that I see growing and attracting new members. The idea can be summed up in the motto, “Not to be ministered unto, but to minister.”
A gentleman in my home town was known as a social climber, and he joined a certain church that was hard by the country club. His mother had rare psychological insight, and was not the least bit pleased. She told him, “You are going to the ___ Church simply to be seen.” I am happy that people are now choosing churches in order that they may “serve.”
There is plenty of work to be done. Poor people to be fed, lonely people to be visited, children to be taught, sick people to be cheered.
I will still do my best to prepare good sermons, but I hope they motivate people to be more like Jesus, and not simply to play mental golf. I will, however, keep in mind what one of my best church ladies once said, “Remember, Milton, there are no souls saved after 12 noon.”
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