Every once in a while you gotta preach a sermon that could get you fired.
I live four miles from where I preach, but some Sundays, it seems to take forever to get there. I’m nervous, sweaty, and anxious of how the sermon will be heard.
“Well, we’ll see if I get fired over this one,” I’ll say to my wife as we pull into the parking lot.
Luckily for me, no one at my church cares enough to fire me. I have that going for me. Instead of firing me, people just leave. I can pinpoint the sermons that facilitated individual’s departures.
I know when I’m stepping in it. If you spend any amount of time with the people in your church, which you should incidentally, you will know where they get hung up. You know the passages they routinely misapply, ignore, and trample under foot. Each church has its agreed upon doctrines you best not touch.
Every once in a while you need to touch those doctrines. You need to cross into dangerous territory and touch on those verses no one is supposed to touch.
If your church is Calvinist, do a sermon emphasizing Arminian proof texts, and vice versa. Bring up warning passages to churches hung up on Easy Believism and preach the verses on assurance and security to those who constantly bash people with fear. You know where your church is, you know the passages: they’re the ones you know you can’t bring up.
I know you know which ones they are! You get that feeling in your stomach just reading them. You hear a pastor on the internet talk about a passage and your head thinks, “Yeah, no way could I say that in my church.”
Sure you can. You’re just chicken!
Preach the whole counsel of God. The whole Scriptures are inspired. He wrote all of them for our learning, not just the ones we like.
Churches need to be shaken up. Christians need to be thinkers. You won’t learn to think if you never hear anything contrary to what you already think. Part of your job as a pastor is to present the Word and help people live by faith.
If we hold back certain parts of the Word, faith will be stifled. The verses you are afraid to bring up in your church are the very verses I guarantee you your church needs to hear.
Yes, people will get mad. Just by turning to that passage people will fill in what it is they think you’ll say and they’ll never actually hear your words. People will leave the church. They will get mad at you. They will accuse you of being a Calvinist, or an Arminian, or a Catholic, or a charismatic. I’ve been charged with being all those things by the same person!
That’s OK. Churches need to be stirred. Christians need to be spurred on. People have to learn to think.
A great question to ask yourself and others in relation to any ignored verse is: How would your understanding of this doctrine change if this verse were not in the Bible?
If the answer is “none at all,” then you need to deal with that verse. The verse means something. It has too. God didn’t waste His breath in breathing this Book. Each verse should weigh in on your doctrine.
Teach your people how to deal with context. Show them how to think and analyze a passage. Show them to be fearless in dealing with God’s Word, not terrified that they may wander into forbidden ground in God’s Holy Scriptures.
It’s all there for our use. Show them how to use it.
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.