I've heard thousands of sermons. Good ones and bad ones.
I've preached thousands of sermons. Good ones and bad ones.
When you hear and preach that many sermons, you stop being impressed by the flashy things that don't matter and you start noticing the fundamental things that do matter.
I'm not opposed to a good illustration to make a point memorable. I've been known to use video clips, have a skit 'interrupt’ my message, climb up a ladder and more to drive a point home.
This is not a “what do seekers/millennials want to hear when they come to your church” list. Although those are fine. I’ve written and spoken about those important issues in the past and I probably will again.
This is more personal. It’s what matters to me after hearing so many sermons that the fluff starts feeling repetitive and the cream starts rising to the top.
But, as I wrote in my companion post, 9 Things I Love to See When I Visit a Church, I don’t think I’m alone in this. I suspect that a lot of people – both seekers and saints – would give us a similar list if we knew how to ask them the right questions.
1. I want to be taught God's Word, warts and all
I can get self-help anywhere. I come to church for God’s help – and for his glory. The only place I can be assured of hearing that is between the covers of the Bible.
But please don’t clean the Bible up for me. You’re not helping it or me when you do that.
The Bible wasn’t handed down from a cloud between fluttering angel’s wings. So we need to stop preaching it as though it was.
It was written in the grit and dirt of people’s real lives. So it speaks to me in the grit and dirt of my real life.
We don’t need to clean the Bible up. It doesn’t need our help. It’s never wrong and it never contradicts itself. But it is filled with paradoxes.
It’s messy. But it’s true.
When we acknowledge that mess, our preaching feels more real.
Real is better than tidy.
2. I want to be told how great Jesus is (Not how great I am. Or you are. Or America is.)
I love America. And you. And I’m not into self-abuse.
But it’s not my church, your church or America’s church (or whatever nation you may be from). It’s Christ’s church.
Tell me how much Jesus loves me, not how much I should love myself.
No church has ever gone wrong by talking about Jesus too much.