Two weeks back I wrote a post titled, “5 Things I Want to Hear in a Sermon.” This week I’m writing a follow-up-post. The same premise applies today. That is, as a regular pastor I get excited about the occasional opportunity to “go” to church with my family, and I truly anticipate being able to listen to biblical preaching with my family. While there are certain things I do want to hear on these occasional Sundays, there are also a number of things I don’t want to hear. Here’s my top 5:
- Your Opinion with Proof Texts … As a preacher, I can spot this a mile away. My guess is, your people can, too. I don’t want to hear your hot take, personal opinion, or individual preference. I want to hear the living Word of God! I’m not giving up my only Sunday off to listen to your soap-box-rant with a handful of Bible verses tacked on to the end. I want to hear the Bible.
- Politics of Any Flavor … This isn’t a Republican thing or a Democrat thing. This isn’t a conservative thing or a liberal thing. This isn’t even a Trump thing or an Obama thing. Unless your political pontification centers on Jesus Christ the King of kings, I’m not interested. I didn’t come to celebrate a country or wave flag, I came to celebrate the Lord of lords, Jesus the Son of God.
- Stories Where You are the Hero … I’m sure you’ve done some pretty awesome things in your life, and maybe there’s a place for sharing those stories. The pulpit is not that place. Be self-deprecating all you want, just don’t try to sell me on your greatness. Talk about heroes from church history or heroes in your congregation, just don’t tell stories that make you look like a hero.
- Nostalgia about Church … I didn’t come to listen to you stroll down memory lane. I don’t want to hear about the good-old-days. For one thing, they weren’t that good. For another thing, they’re gone. I don’t mind honesty about our current state of affairs, and I’d love to dream about a God-honoring future. But let’s not wax nostalgic about the good old days you miss so much.
- Made-up Stories … Maybe I’m just getting cranky and need to stop. Maybe this is just a personal pet peeve. But I just don’t like made-up stories that preachers try to pass off as real. Usually these stories are supposed to illustrate or bolster a point in the message. I’m just not sure how a made-up story about non-existent people who find themselves in imaginary situations adds anything to the Bible.
Whether you’re a pastor or a church member, I’d love to know what you think of this list? Anything you would add?