Andy Hynes is a PhD candidate at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Follow him @ABHYNES on Twitter.
When you hear my title, I am sure there are many different things that come to mind. What comes to my mind these days is preaching. As I listen to sermons, I continue to hear pastors majoring on the minors. Please understand that I realize that “all” Scripture is God-breathed and inspired. However, I also know that there are major themes and less major themes. When you come to a particular passage there is one main truth that the biblical writer was seeking to accomplish. Our job as pastors is to gather that truth, walk through the passage verse by verse and then word by word allowing everything from that passage to point to the main theme. Today, many pastors are selecting a passage and then drawing conclusions that some times aren’t even represented in the passage. Encouraging people to “highlight or underline” certain words or phrases in a passage, that do not pertain to the main theme.
Why is this happening??? My guesses are varied. First, I think true biblical preaching takes TIME! It isn’t easy, and it doesn’t always come naturally out of the text. When we commit ourselves to many other pursuits throughout the week, then sermon preparation takes a backseat. When sermon prep is the main responsibility you have as a pastor, you are called to search and pour over the Scripture to draw out the genuine, biblical truths. Another reason I think that men are majoring on the minors is they don’t even realize it is being done. This often comes from a lack of education. While education isn’t everything, it is something, and it does have an important place. When someone isn’t trained in the main responsibility they have week to week, how could they even know that they are not always being faithful to the Word? The third reason I reach is that they just don’t care. Maybe they know what they need to do, and they just aren’t willing to commit to doing it. This is a sad thought, but I think one that is taking place in the church today.
Another concern I see from the pulpit today is a lack of clarity. When one majors on the minors then there tends to be confusion. When you are preaching a message, and you are driving home one main idea with the truths of the text, then there is great clarity of purpose. If someone leaves the sermon going, “What was he talking about?” then there is an issue. Once again, this isn’t an easy thing to do. It takes time, commitment, and it is exhausting. It is a daily grind that comes out of the pastor’s study.
My third concern of majoring on the minors comes from the invitation. Men, the invitation needs to reflect the message. If you switch the invitation from the aspects that you preached in the message, then you once again create confusion. If you haven’t been faithful to preach Christ, from the text, then don’t “throw in” the 2-minute Gospel to make yourself feel better. Do what Spurgeon did, and not stop preaching a sermon till you get to the cross. BUT, THIS TAKES TIME. Allowing the main point to shine forth, with the multiple truths from the text that point to that main truth, and then allowing Christ to be the umbrella over it all IS NOT EASY.
My fourth concern is when pastors NEVER get beyond the milk of the Word. If week-to-week and month-to-month you continue to preach to surface things, then there is a problem. GET TO THE MEAT. That doesn’t mean that you preach over the heads of your people or fill them with Greek and Hebrew definitions. But, you must be able to take the DEEP theological truths of the Scripture and expound them in such a way that even the youngest believer can grow. While Sunday morning isn’t the only “growth” time of your people, that doesn’t give you a “pass” on driving deep into the Word.
Because this is not a new phenomenon, our churches are inoculated. So what can we do?
- PRAY- which is the main thing to do anyway. But pray for your pastor, staff, and leadership.
- Don’t “jump ship” – Meaning to leave and hunt down another church. Only if the pastor is preaching heresy is this a valid decision.
- Find a God-honoring, and loving way to talk with him, and encourage him, all at the same time.
There is not an easy solution. If the pastor is not willing to acknowledge there is a legitimate concern, then you cannot make him see it. It will have to take a work of the Holy Spirit. Pastors, why would we not be willing to evaluate our preaching? Why not allow some accountability in your life in this area? If you do, are you willing to seriously listen to the critiques that you get?