The Pulpit and the Pew Mini Series


Allow me to introduce a six part mini series entitled, “The Pulpit and the Pew: 6 Cultures bringing the American Church to its knees.”

Here is an outline of the 6 parts. I am going to devote three parts to the pulpit and three parts to the pew. Here is and idea:

The Pulpit:
1. The Culture of Swagger without Substance
2. The Culture of Pastoral Notoriety
3. The Culture of pastoral Isolation

The Pew:
1. The Culture of Hooking up
2. The Culture of Shacking up
3. The Culture of Cozying up

Part 1: The Culture of Swagger without Substance

Today, all around America, there is a lot of swag going on in pulpits of every denomination and every church. We even have what some call – “hipsters and celebrity pastors.”  There is a culture of swagger in the pulpit but there is not enough substance to back it up. Every preacher has a style and it’s okay to have style. Unfortunately, style doesn’t change lives, never has never will.
Seth Godin, the one who coined the phrase Swagger without Substance, said, “we are seeing more swagger than ever—but it’s rarely accompanied by an increase in substance. Substance without swagger slows you down. But swagger without substance can be fatal.”
Now, Seth may have had marketers and not pastors in mind when he wrote those words, but we can clearly make the argument that it is a powerful description of the men and women standing in the pulpit of most American churches today.
I have always attributed the mass exodus of millennials from churches in America to lazy excuses, but I would like to add to that list – too much swagger and not enough substance in our pulpits. And I fear that it is going to get worse if something supernatural doesn’t happen soon in some American Churches.
Most pulpits in America lack five elements that make for a sustained and life changing ministry: These five elements must be restored quickly:

The rare gift of a good Shepherd

 Not a self-proclaimed and self-appointed prophet or apostle. Not a hired hand whose in it just for money or glory. Not the one who Lords it over the flock. Not the one who loves himself more than he does the local church. Not the one who fails to see it as “the hope of the world.” But a good shepherd. A good shepherd is humble, caring and loving. One who lays his life down daily for the sheep. One who fights for it, protects it, feeds it, guides it and walks along side of it every beat of his heart.

The rare gift of an anointed preacher

 Not a naturally charismatic figure who knows how to work a crowd and put on a show. Not the guy with style and swag. Not the guy with the ability to communicate and a mastery of how to deliver a speech or talk There is nothing wrong with having those skills. But the problem is, that’s all we find in most pulpits in America today. That’s why people are not being changed and transformed. We need more preachers with that “fire burning in my bones”, “anointing that breaks every yoke” power from on high in our pulpits again. There is a difference between mere talent and raw Holy Ghost unction. The anointing makes the difference.

The rare gift of a biblically sound pastor-teacher

Not a shallow, doubting, unconvinced and fearful minister who does not have any strong theology, or deep conviction about the infallible word of God. But a man of God who is complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work. A work man who knows how to rightly divide and dispense deep theological truths. One who is not afraid to preach when the Holy Spirit wants him to bring instruction, reproof and conviction of sin, correction of error, discipline in obedience, and training in holy living.

The rare gift of a humble thinker

 Not a blind follower. Not a copy cat. Not an anti learner, or narrow minded tongue speaking, demon chasing warrior. But one who knows how to challenge the process. A leader, an innovator. He is a scholar. He is well versed or seeks to know the business of running an organization. One who knows that marketing, and strategic planning is not of the devil. He just doesn’t follow trends because of their popularity. He has disciplined himself to look at every day, ordinary or “familier situations with fresh eyes - able to identify opportunities that others can’t see.”

The rare gift of an authentic Christ follower

He is not a Pharisee or an angry prophet who preaches one thing and doesn’t practice what he preaches. He is not an impostor, nor is he a fake. He doesn’t talk about being real only as an excuse to justify his weakness. He is a man of integrity, a man who truly fears God. A man whose life is an example of a life lived in Christ. He loves his wife and children and his church. Through the power that is at work in him, he seeks to live before them as a loving leader, a faithful husband, a caring father and a humble servant.
Thanks in advance for adding value to this post by giving me your impressions and thought on this post. Join me this weekend lifting up prayer for pulpits around America.

19 responses to “The Pulpit and the Pew Mini Series

  1. Hi Ben, good to hear from you. Thank you for adding your voice to the post. To avail myself to Him in all I do so He can use me is my daily prayer. Let’s hope others can join in. See you on you blog and on twitter.

  2. Hi Naphtali,
    your comment tells the sad story of how so many churches end up missing God and sending people in the wrong direction when it comes to discipleship. I hope and pray that sooner rather than later these churches will come to understand that programs alone don’t make true disciples. It is the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the moving of the Holy Spirit that bring about change.

    Thanks for a insightful comment!

  3. I agree. It is hard to explain to those who have attended these churches the difference between, “well, it’s good to have programs, entertainment and dinners to bring more people to Christ,” or “where is the Holy Spirit in this place?” The offense to so many projects, activities and classrooms ( I got kicked out of one) is how else are you going to save the people? It isn’t our job to save them; that is God’s! We are to bring them to him as disciples. Sadly, the mainline church doesn’t know how to make a disciple. Jump to Baptism to get them in the gate. All well and good, but then tell them out to walk our their faith or live as Jesus taught his disciples to live and they are lost. Great post.

  4. Excellent! I couldn’t have said it better myself. I think maybe the lifestyles of these types of “men of God,” or should I say, men of men, is what inspired the prophet Jeremiah to write: “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” (Jeremiah 23).

  5. Hi Walter – this is spot on brother! “We need more preachers with that “fire burning in my bones”, “anointing that breaks every yoke” power from on high in our pulpits again.” Amen and Amen
    Thank you!

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