Excellent post by Dan Phillips at Pyromaniacs. A welcome warning for all the mealy-mouthed preachers whose sole aim is to make everyone within earshot confident that they are good and wonderful people who deserve to live a happy life, and that God accepts them just the way they are and has a wonderful plan for their lives–until, that is, they stand before Him and He tells them “Depart!”
This one guy — he tells jokes. Now, anyone who’s heard me preach knows I’ve no problem with humor in the service of a Biblical message. The Bible does it, Spurgeon did it, I do it.
But that isn’t the aim here. That isn’t the purpose. No, these are jokes with the sole purpose of making the joker look cute and clever and witty. “Oh, please — like me,” these jokes wail. “Love me. Think I’m cool!” The audience chuckles, and has a good time. Some of them go off to Hell chuckling. Others become a reproach to their professed Lord as they do what sheep characteristically do, without a shepherd.
Then there’s this other guy, who gets up and chats. He shares, he randomly free-associates. Word flow, unfiltered, from imagination to mouth. He poses questions to which he offers no answer. Then he shrugs and wanders on. People leave with never a “Thus says the Lord” to challenge their thinking and point them to Christ.
Yet a third fellow tells stories, as if Garrison Keillor were his model for preaching rather than Isaiah or Paul, Wesley, Whitfield, Spurgeon, or Ryle. They are stories of which the only point is the story itself, or the cleverness of the storyteller. They serve the end of entertaining the audience, or provoking its admiration, or filling time inoffensively. They’ll go off to Hell, or to shame Christ, with a nice story in their ears.[…]
You can bet I’m sitting there fuming, and internally shouting these words: “You had that pulpit, these people, this opportunity — and you did that with it? What, in the name of all that’s holy, were you thinking? You may never see these people again! Nobody may ever see them again! That may have been your one opportunity — and you do that with it? Why did you even get up there? Why are you even a pastor?“