Out of Context: Bryan Wilkerson

"These days, people can get good teaching, wonderful music, and excellent writing, whether through iPods, TV, or online. They learn to shop around and pick and choose. Then they expect the same high quality in their local church. A generation ago, the average person learned to accept his home pastor and was faithful to his local church. But now, people's appetites for excellence have been heightened."

-Bryan Wilkerson is the senior pastor of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts. Taken from "5 Kinds of Christians" in the Fall 2007 issue of Leadership journal. To see the quote IN context, you'll need to see the print version of Leadership. To subscribe, click on the cover of Leadership on this page.

November 29, 2007

Displaying 1–10 of 10 comments

Joel G

July 03, 2014  9:29am

A Call to Persevere 17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.[f] Jude 1

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mike rucker

November 30, 2007  12:34pm

my only comment: is it really "excellent"? or just simply "polished"?

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November 30, 2007  9:58am

One might argue it is not so much "appetites for excellence" as our appetites for personal satisfaction, etc. – obviously selfishness has existed since Eden...but our opportunity to gratify such desires are growing in a new form due to the nature of the consumeristic mentality being heightened...excellence as a commodity is not inherently bad but what we "eat" and how we "feed" become important points of consideration as we consider this metaphor of appetite.

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Kevin Derr

November 30, 2007  9:01am

As an average pastor in an average small church, I don't have staff to take care of tracking down some research for me, nor do I have staff to take care of pastoral concerns while I hone my message for Sunday. I do have the Holy Spirit, thanks be to God, but when there are two funerals, Bible Study, Sunday School and Worship in a given week, along with every other typical thing for a week in the average church, it does not leave much time. But that does not mean that I should let the quality of my study and preparation be neglected for other things, it may mean I put in the extra time to do what is necessary. It does mean that in the following week, I need to find some time for family and the other important parts of my life. It probably means that I need to spend some time doing research ahead as well, so that when the storms come and the waters rise the house built on the rock will stand. I don't begrudge my people hear good preaching, reading good books or hearing good music, but at the same time, they can't expect me to be doing 50 hours of study for a sermon a week. Which means I won't have the polish that others who have that ability to focus on preaching will have. Nor does it mean that they think less of the work I do, especially those that know me, and know what I do. Peace, Kevin

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robin dugall

November 29, 2007  12:04pm

Unfortunately, I have to say it - that comment makes me sick!

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Jason Leonard

November 29, 2007  11:38am

It's probably a healthy thing to desire excellence in the areas of teaching and pastoring. An area of caution, however, is often how easy it seems for people who excel in certain areas. So easy, in fact, that it takes very little work to receive their teaching or pastoring. The temptation that can follow is to expect other people to carry the burden of following Christ for your in those places. You know what I mean? Going to church and getting frustrated because the pastor didn't really 'connect' with you. Should the teacher work to connect with you? Sure. But the value of having the promise of the Holy Spirit at work in you is that you never have an excuse to not discover the Lord at work. Perhaps all the desire for excellence should make us thirst for more and live in to it - as opposed to expecting the world around us to live up to expectations so we can be entertained from our seats.

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Jake Bouma

November 29, 2007  11:13am

I think the appetite for excellence has not only been heightened because of consumer culture, but because of the increasing consumeristic nature of the church itself, and the increasing availability/visibility of mega/celebrity churches (Mars Hill, Saddleback, Imago Dei, et al.) If people can easily access via iTunes or DVD or YouTube a sermon given by Rob Bell, Rick Warren, and the like, then they're going to expect the same level of "excellence" in their local area, and flock to the church that is doing the best impression of a celebrity church.

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Paul Ogne

November 29, 2007  10:14am

"good teaching, wonderful music, and excellent writing" These things are all wonderful for growth and sustenance in the Christian faith. But, by themselves, are a cheap substitute for the life and faith to which God calls us and for which we are saved. The search for the teaching, music and writing that I like or leading me where I want to go is a lot more appealing than that which calls me to and where God wants me to go. Headphones listening to a podcast isolate us from the world that Christ died to save, the body of Christ into which he knits us, and the ministries for which the Holy Spirit gives us gifts to share. As for pastors that fall far short of the excellence of the online and broadcast preachers, I am one. The miracle is that God not only saved a wretch like me but that he also proclaims Christ through me – not just in my words but in my love for God's people and my imperfect life among them. The truth is that God has a history of calling unlikely people to speak in his name – not just the most eloquent (consider Balaams donkey). The truth is that pastors will fail to meet people's expectations and people in a congregation will step on each other's toes. These times of disappointment and hurt are exactly what good teaching ought to lead towards – faithful, grace-filled, and fruitful lives. We are not called to be consumers of religious goods and services but disciples of Jesus Christ and to serve in his name. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, 2 Timothy 4:3 Now, I need to find my copy of that latest Leadership magazine so I can read that quote in context :-/

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Jonathan Brink

November 29, 2007  10:13am

That is not necessarily a bad thing.

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Geoff Baggett

November 29, 2007  9:56am

What can I say? Bryan is right. Churches want excellent, dynamic communicators. But they also (usually) want a "chaplain" who is available 24/7 for all of their personal needs. The rub comes when that overworked pastoral care provider has neither the time nor the energy to study, write, and rehearse dynamic messages. Maybe that's why the average stay for a pastor in an "average" church is now in the 2-year range. http://sbcimpact.net

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