And then my spirit was grieved.
I watched the angry preacher berating his congregation and laughed at some of the ridiculous things he was saying. Things that one can only truly appreciate if you spent any time in one of these angry little churches. I appreciated the humor of his angry tirade about men peeing while sitting down. And I rolled my eyes at his passionate defense of the King James Bible.
And then I thought about his congregation.
And then my own.
At one point in his frothing at the mouth he said to his congregation, “You’re not going to like this. But you haven’t liked the sermon up until now, so why would I try to please you now. You are going to be mad no matter what I do….”
Few pastors would be this forthright. But I wonder how many of us aren’t dragging around his same assumption; namely, that our congregants hate hearing truth.
But they don’t hate God’s Word…if they love Jesus. In fact, Jesus-loving congregants love to hear God’s Word even the hard stuff. They don’t mind having their toes stepped on. Sure, nobody likes conviction. And our flesh rebels against repentance and God’s Word getting all up in our business. But at the end of the day we love to hear from God—even if it wounds us.
And so it is foolish for us preachers to be angry with our congregation and to berate them as if they hate God’s Word.
I’m not saying we should soft-pedal the gospel. Nor am I saying that at time we shouldn’t take up the prophets tone. But what I am saying is that our preaching will radically change if we assume those we are preaching to love God’s Word.
It will lead to full-orbed preaching. You can preach with the tone of a prophet, a priest, and a sage. (See Eswine’s Preaching in a Post-Everything World for more). Sometimes our people need a word of rebuke. But many times they need gospel balm applied to their wounded souls.
It will help us to worship together. Rather than having a me vs. them mentality, pastor and members alike can be involved in community under the direction of Christ and His Word.
It will open me up to receiving correction. If I assume I am the only one who loves God’s Word then I can dismiss any critics as God-hating losers. But if I realize they too love the Lord and value His Word then I can be open to their loving counsel.
It will help me preach and counsel with more confidence. Angry preaching is faux boldness. Any dolt can be passionate when he feels like people are attacking him. It takes real passion and boldness to lovingly correct friends. But knowing that I am surrounded by gospel friends who want to follow Christ helps me to preach and counsel with even more confidence. I am less concerned with winning arguments and more concerned with letting God’s Word speak.
These are only a few of the benefits to realizing that most of our people love Jesus and treasure His Word. There are many more. Perhaps chief among them is that Jesus nourishes His bride and washes her with the water of the Word. He doesn’t berate her and abuse her. He knows her for who she really is—redeemed and growing in her love for Him.
So if you are an angry preacher dude—stop.
You aren’t bold.
You aren’t loving.
You aren’t doing your church a favor by “telling them the truth”.
You just have a bad theology of how the gospel shapes believers. And so I urge you—yes with a prophetic voice—to repent and start loving your listeners like Jesus does.
Photo from here.