Last week I posted an article titled “Preaching Brick by Brick.” That article was directed toward regular pastors, encouraging them to approach the task of preaching as if they were building a wall, one brick at a time. This article is intended to be a companion piece to that article, directed not to pastors but to church members who listen to sermons every week.
If your pastor preaches expository sermons, walking his congregation through a particular passage of Scripture, he carries a heavy burden when he steps into the pulpit. The Word of God is endlessly rich and infinitely applicable to our lives. That means your pastor wants to say more than he can reasonably say in a thirty-minute sermon. Each week he wants to deliver a life changing sermon that you will find Biblical, powerful, true, engaging, helpful, moving, and maybe even funny.
The internet has done nothing to ease the weight of this burden. Church members have instant and immediate access to the best preachers, communicators, and Bible teachers. You can download podcasts and watch YouTube videos. With a click of the mouse or a tap of your finger, you can listen to the best of the best! What we often fail to realize is the fact that the internet turns us all into rabid, self-centered consumers. This is true even when we are “consuming” online sermons or Bible teaching.
The result of all this is unrealistic expectations. Many people attend church expecting every message to be Biblical, powerful, true, engaging, helpful, moving, and certainly funny. Essentially, people expect to be spoon fed, entertained, and transformed with each and every sermon. Like I said above, this is a heavy weight for your pastor to bear when he steps into the pulpit.
I think a better approach to the sermons you hear on Sunday can be pictured in masonry, wall-building, brick-laying. The only way to build a wall is one brick at a time. You can’t put every brick up at once, and you can’t put the final row of bricks on without first laying the bottom courses of brick. Instead, the mason must simply lay one brick at a time, making sure to lay the brick straight and square.
If you’re a preacher, that’s the task of preaching. If you’re a church member, that’s the task of listening to your pastor preach. You can’t build an imposing, impressive wall of faith in a single Sunday. Odds are, most of the sermons you hear won’t be “life changing” or “revolutionary.” But that’s ok. That’s not the point of preaching anyway. Your pastor’s job is simple. He is called to lay down one brick at a time and to lay it straight and square.
One brick at a time. That’s how you build a wall. That’s how a regular pastor must think about preaching. That’s how church members must think about listening to preaching. Week after week, Sunday after Sunday, we are working together to build a wall of faith. That wall is meant to defend the faith once for all delivered to the saints. That wall will never be built in a single Sunday sermon. It can only be built one brick at a time, one truth at a time, one sermon at a time.