The Foolishness of Preaching
Worship services and Sunday Schools in churches must be divinely blessed for them to even exist in the 21st century. In this generation, we are not lacking in various varieties of churches. Consider any Sunday in America at the number of styles of churches that are meeting to worship.
Depending on the size of the city where you live, sometime between 9 AM and noon, groups are likely meeting in very high church settings with set liturgies and rituals. Just down the street may be those that are not as “set” in formalities but retain many of the practices of highly structured gatherings. From there, one can find Baptists meeting and their groups range from organ music and 3 hymns with a choir to blue jeans and very contemporary music with various contemporary additions that are present to draw young people. Just down the street is a very charismatic group with great freedom of expression in singing, preaching, and spiritual experiences. And, just on the outskirts of town, is a cowboy church where everyone is dressed in western attire and some of those may have even ridden horses to the service.
At the very heart of each of those is preaching. One man, week after week, standing before most of the same people to bring a message about God’s will from God’s Word. Students are required to hear a teacher in school. Businesses pay folks to go to seminars where they are expected to learn. Coaches instruct players. Leaders work steadfastly with musicians eager for the leader to teach them. But, church is voluntary. No one can make another person sit in church. And, even those that “sit there” are not always listening. But, consider any other group of people that willingly listens to one voice of one person at least once every week and do so eagerly and with genuine desire to hear the sermon. That must be a God ordained meeting or otherwise, men would lose interest and every church would be hard pressed to get listeners were it not for God’s Spirit drawing them and God’s Spirit anointing the preacher.
Most preachers spend a lot of time reading, studying, praying, and writing to refine what God is instructing him to glean from a test to relate to the people. Every preacher has those days when he feels like the sermon fell flat. And, other days when he feels good about the content and delivery, but there are no results. Truth is, no man can tell what God is doing with a message. A man is to faithfully deliver God’s truth in the power of the Holy Spirit and leave the results to God.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, known as “the prince of preachers,” felt he delivered his sermon so poorly one Sunday that he was ashamed of himself. As he walked away from his church, the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, he wondered how any good could come from that message. When he arrived home, he dropped to his knees and prayed, “Lord God, You can do something with nothing. Bless that poor sermon.”
In the months that followed, 41 people said that they had decided to trust Christ as Savior because of that “weak” message. The following Sunday, to make up for his previous “failure,” Spurgeon had prepared a “great” sermon — but no one responded.
Spurgeon’s experience underscores two important lessons for all who serve the Lord. First, we need the blessing of God on our efforts. Solomon said in Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” And second, our weakness is an occasion for the working of God’s power. The apostle Paul said, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). (Copied).