Thursday, January 22, 2015

Are the LOUDEST the BEST?

I came across this quote today by A.W. Tozer:

"Christians have fallen into the habit 
of accepting the noisiest and most notorious 
among them as the best and the greatest."

I make no claim to be an expert on what makes a great preacher.  But I do have some thoughts and observations on Mr. Tozer's claim.  I honestly believe that what passes for "great preaching" in our modern day fundamentalist Baptist circles must truly sicken the Master.  While I personally don't like, much less claim the label of a 'fundamentalist' any more, that is the circle that I am most familiar with.  A lot of preachers I would consider some of my close friends wear that title as a badge of honor.  And that is fine for them if that is what they want, but I prefer to call myself a Bible-believer.  I could say more right here but that would be a very long and winding rabbit trail perhaps best saved for a later post.

Back to the original topic of Mr. Tozer's statement.  I have been in full time evangelism for over 13 years and for probably over 10 years before that traveled many times a year for different meetings.  I have been in all kinds of settings over the years: normal weekly church services, revival meetings, camp meetings, missions conferences, men's conferences, tent meetings, marriage conferences, homecoming services, special days and the list goes on.  

The way I have personally observed people in the various church services react to different types of preaching and preachers has left me speechless to be honest.  I can not think of a way to word it better than our dear Brother Tozer.  It seems today that the more well known a guy is, the louder he is, the more charismatic he is then the more sought-after he is among our Baptist churches.  The sad part is that it has left us with nothing more than charlatans and celebrities being invited to "preach" all over the country.

People don't want real Bible preaching today.  They want to be entertained.  And this entertainment comes with all kinds of ingredients.  This guy is loud.  This guy is long-winded.  This one has certain antics and actions.  This guy is popular.  That one pastors a big church.  This one is in a certain paper or magazine.  This one is good friends with somebody even more famous than he is.  That one has a college.  This one is handsome.  

I have been in so many meetings where Dr. Bigshot comes in to town and gets everybody all pumped up and excited and oh how they shout and holler while he preaches but 99% of those who heard Bro. Fancy Britches could not for the life of them even tell you what the guy preached by the time the meeting was over.   But if you ask them - "Boy, it sure was a great message, wasn't it?!  I don't remember a thing he said but it was good."  To be honest it makes me sick and I can't even imagine how it makes our Saviour feel.

What is even sadder to me is what a lot of times I see that goes along with this.  A good man will get up and really preach.  And I mean a GOOD, godly, Holy Ghost-filled man.  He will get up and really help the congregation.  He is dishing out gold by the wheelbarrow full.  I am talking about the kind of stuff that God uses and it makes you sit there in amazement and say "Wow! Where did he come up with that?!"  People hit the altar in conviction and encouragement and rejoicing that God would give such a message to a man of God so they could get some real help.  You may be asking what is wrong with that?  NOTHING is wrong with that.  It's what I have heard with my own ears that is wrong with that.  I've been in meetings where what I just described to you happened and have heard people ask "So when is Dr. ____________ going to preach?"  "When is Bro. ______________ scheduled to be up there?"  "Is so-and-so preaching tonight?"

I used to organize what was at the time probably the largest camp meeting in the entire northeast of the United States and did so for about ten years.  Every year I would get phone calls from people - a lot I knew and some I didn't - wanting to know which nights the "bigshots" were preaching.  I did not plan the preaching schedule, but even if I did know what it was ahead of time, I never gave them the answer they were looking for.  Why wasn't it good enough to come and be a part of the camp meeting and just enjoy everything God had for them no matter who was preaching?

Another thing that just amazes me (although I know it really shouldn't) is how booked these entertainers are.  I know some real good, God-called, Holy Ghost anointed evangelists who have huge gaps in their schedules in between meetings.  They have one desire when they go into a church and that is to be a real help and a blessing to the pastor and the church.  But which "preachers" stay the most busy?  The ones that all they do is entertain.  Oh, most call it preaching but it really isn't.  God doesn't consider it preaching.  I personally know of one man who is a pastor who has an out-of-town preaching schedule that every evangelist I know is begging God for.  In one year not too long ago he preached sixty-two "meetings".  He is one of the most popular and sought-after guys out there today.  He really has the gift of knowing how to work the crowd.  But yet you ask most of those who have heard him and they love his 'preaching'.  Two weeks later they don't remember a thing he said but it sure made them shout or laugh or cry or all of the above while they were hearing him.  I couldn't even begin to tell you how many meetings I have been in all over the country where the highest attended nights were the nights the big guns were preaching or singing.

One sickening example that comes to mind happened recently.  One of the guest preachers who is one of those crowd-stirring, charismatic guys was preaching and during his 'sermon' he came off the platform and embarrassed the host pastor's wife right in front of her face.  Everybody (well not everybody because I surely didn't) laughed and shouted AMEN.  If I or any other regular Joe would have done that we would have been sat down immediately and not invited back.  But, because it was Bro. ______________ nobody even blinked at it.  I was one of the invited preachers of the meeting and even though most thought it was funny I can assure you the Holy Ghost of God was grieved and you could almost see Him walk out the back door.

I know of pastors who have certain guys come to their meetings and the sole reason they invite them is because they can draw a big crowd.  That is not speculation - I have had a few even tell me that.  Some may read this post and think I am picking on pastors because I am "just an evangelist".  Nothing could be further from the truth.  But I have seen people - pastors, evangelists, missionaries and church members - do everything but drool over these bigshot, well-known, charismatic entertainer-preachers.  They sit mesmerized  in total awe and amazement over them and their message.  Which really isn't so much a message as it was a show, a production.  These popular preachers have all kinds of titles: some are evangelists; some are pastors; some are missionaries; some are youth pastors; some are just regular guys who work a secular job but have gained a following.  

I know some preachers who fellowship with the big boys in hopes that it will benefit them and their ministry in some way.  Maybe an evangelist would get more meetings if he were bosom buddies with one of the big boys.  Maybe a pastor could find a bigger church to take over if he rubbed elbows with the famous guy.  Bible colleges today are teaching and training preacher boys the "how-to's" of preparing a sermon outline, how to preach, how to "warm-up" to the congregation.  Well my friends, we are now seeing where all that has brought us to.  There is a big difference between having the TALENT to preach and having God's POWER on your preaching.  And I am afraid that what passes nowadays for God's anointing - to people who should have more basic Bible discernment - is nothing more than Public Speaking 101.

We have turned God's business into a self-promoting laughing stock.  No wonder God is not happy.

Preach the word...
II Timothy 4:2

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound...
Isaiah 61:1

 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.
II Corinthians 4:5

Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
Acts 8:35

No comments:

Post a Comment