Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: Preach the Word!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Preach the Word!

Just a few weeks ago I took a group of 27 students and adults to Gatlinburg, TN for the Xtreme Conference. I always attend youth conferences with a bit of apprehension because much of the time they focus on hype and emotion to get their point across. Students leave feeling renewed and wonder why their zeal for the Lord has disappeared after a few days. On the other hand, these conferences are helpful to allow the teenagers to get away and hear from other people besides me and the volunteer staff in the youth ministry.

This go around was for the most part a solid experience. Three of the four speakers we heard focused their message on God's unconditional love and the inability of the teenagers to do anything that separates them from His love. One of the speakers, however, went in a direction that I am still recovering from. This particular speaker is loud, large, and bold. He is a gifted communicator, no doubt about it. About 10 minutes into his message he was giving an illustration using his two children, one of whom was dressing the other (a boy) in girls clothing. This is where things went downhill fast. This speaker started screaming from the platform that he did not want his child to be "queered up." He continued on this path for a while, continuing to use derogatory language concerning homosexuals. As if that was not bad enough, just a few minutes later he was speaking to the guys and girls about how to act when they are engaged and the wedding is coming up. To the guys, he insisted that they stay completely out of the wedding plans, screaming for them to "Shut up!" To the girls, and this is beyond belief, he instructed them to "do what your husband says during the honeymoon. Stand where he wants you stand, do what he wants you do. He has been waiting for this moment." It was at this point that I considered taking my group of teenagers and walking out in the middle of his message. I resisted the temptation.

Experiences like this one continue to re-enforce my conviction that pastors, speakers, and evangelists need to approach the pulpit with integrity and preach the Word. I have little patience for turning the pulpit into a political campaigning platform, a comedic outlet, or a way to speak of selfish driven issues. The pulpit is not a place to show everyone how funny we are, nor is it a place to push emotional buttons in order to elicit some kind of response. It is only a place to speak the name of Christ and his Word.

Now, don't misunderstand. I am not suggesting that humor cannot be effective. Nor I am suggesting that preachers should not be passionate about their message. Jonathan Edwards spent a lifetime supporting the use of affections from the pulpit. I try to use illustrations when I preach that helps make a connection to my audience. But to strut our stuff and make the pulpit a place where a clown would fit in as well as a preacher sacrifices the integrity of the most important half hour of the week for the church. The pulpit is a deadly place for preachers. Not to be taken lightly.

As far as the Xtreme Conference goes, this trip might be my last. Time will tell.


Blogger Barry said...

That's amazing that the speaker chose to go down that road. Unfortunately, bigotry and chauvinism often go hand in hand when some preachers get too full of themselves and forget what they're really teaching. I probably would've walked out myself, but I'm sure it would've been awkward trying to gather the whole youth group.

Usually speakers that speak so vehemently against topics like that have unresolved issues in their own lives, which is sad.

My son is going to Resurrection in a couple of weekends in Gatlinburg- his first time as a middle schooler. I've heard a lot of good things about it - I've never heard of Xtreme before...

January 11, 2008 8:50 AM  
Blogger Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Once again, this is an excellent post.

We who preach must approach the task with fear and trembling, much prayer and rigorous study. We proclaim God's wrath toward sin to terrify the comfortable. And we proclaim God's mercy toward sinners through Christ to comfort the terrified. I recommend "The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel" by Walther to every preacher who takes his task seriously.

January 13, 2008 1:22 AM  

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