Note: I originally started writing this post 2 weeks ago.
Yesterday I filled in for our preacher who is on vacation. My text was Romans chapter 1. The take away point was that the really bad sins listed at the end of the chapter were the result of refusing to recognize and honor God as God, and any person or nation that does not honor God is on a path of destruction. One sermon illustration was predictably, Kim Davis.
One of the upsides of being a fill in is that by virtue of being "new" folks are going to tune into what is being said. Even though I've taught and preached for this same pulpit several times in the last 15 years, I haven't done it regularly in some time. Most of the crowd was a little more tuned in than what they normally would be because of the novelty.
I'm not in any danger of becoming the next Billy Graham. If I was called to serve as a pastor, I'd be a little surprised. Even as an amateur, which is what I consider myself, there are some things happening in the church that are plain to me.
First, Christian people want to know that or if what they are doing is right. As in right according to what scripture says. They also want to know or at least have their belief in basic doctrine and morality reinforced in a public setting. A "thus saith the Lord" with book chapter and verse means a lot.
Second, people don't care as much about if you mess up in your presentation as long as the message is correct and you are passionate in presenting it. Far better to tell the truth poorly than to homiletically entertain the crowd with sweet nothings.
Third, hearing the truth will shock people. Sometimes this is good, sometimes the results are unpredictable. Either way it seems like the truth is in such short supply that just hearing it will get a reaction.
On Sunday, one group (most of those who spoke to me afterward) were praising the lesson for different reasons. Overall they were in favor of what they found in it. The other group (the minority) didn't like what was said. Although its nice to get compliments, its far more satisfying to know that people are wrestling with the message. One women in particular was struggling with her rationalization hamster trying to spin the wheel so she could still buy the opinions of NPR, while simultaneously being a good church going person.
By and large the American church seems oblivious to my observations. There is such a push for programs, "involvement", "relationship", "community" or some buzz word du jour, that words like "truth" get pushed aside. Where is the Christian world view? So few seem to have one anymore.
I like the church I go to. I'm not bashing my local congregation or churches in general. Its not my job to accuse the brethren. If an amateur can stir up a body of believers with a plain Jane sermon, why aren't pulpits filled with professionals firing America up into a full blown revival?