Should Christians leave their church if the pastor is not consistently preaching the Word? What should a pastor do if his church is unresponsive to the preaching of God’s Word? How did the modern church get to a place where many pastors are delivering nice talks, but not preaching from the Bible? We asked Art Azurdia…
Listen to sermon (Acts 2:42-47):
In this sermon you note that many pastors are delivering nice talks but not really preaching the Word of God. How did that type of “preaching” become so pervasive?
Some of it relates to the fact that people think we have to make the Bible relevant, that the Bible isn’t relevant in and of itself, which leads them away from the biblical text. Then there is the pragmatism that took hold with a vengeance in the early-to-mid 80’s, and the seeker movement that moved us away from the careful exposition of the Word. Additionally, I think a basic lack of confidence in the sufficiency of the Bible exists, which is ironic, because many of these churches would happily affirm inerrancy while simultaneously denying sufficiency in their practice. And with all due respect, I think sufficiency is more important than inerrancy, though I affirm inerrancy. So the issues of relevance, pragmatism, and the lack of confidence in the sufficiency of Scripture, I think, have brought the church to where it is now.
Do you have any advice for pastors who desire to and maybe are preaching God’s Word, but their congregations don’t seem to be responding?
For pastors in this type of situation, my encouragement would be to continue to be faithful, pray for the Spirit of God to do a work of revival, and then look for little pockets of people who are responsive to the Word of God and pour into them. If there is a group of people in the congregation who are especially enthusiastic, I would pour more and more into them. Lastly, the pastor may want to ask if there may be unbelievers in the congregation, because believers ultimately will always be responsive to the Word of God. If the church is unresponsive to the Word, then the pastor may be dealing with a group of people that are not authentically born again.
Any advice for congregants under pastors who don’t seem to want to preach the Bible? Should they find a new church?
That’s a good question, and I’m not sure if there is an easy answer. First and foremost, they need to pray for their pastors, that God might change them and cause them to see that while pragmatism may get a bigger crowd, it does not lead to real transformation. I think the pastor is being derelict in his responsibilities if he does not bring the Word of God to bear on peoples’ lives every week. As you think about what the Protestant Reformers referred to as the marks distinguishing an authentic congregation, the first mark of the church is the proper preaching of the gospel. If that’s gone, then you get very close to not having an authentic church. I can give a lot of time to someone who is not overly gifted but is committed to the process. If the pastor is not committed to the process, then I would tell that person that I think it may be time to go.