Sundays have changed a lot since I was a child. Back then, we would go to Sunday school, sing songs, hear the pastor preach, take an afternoon break, then go back and do it again that evening.... then go back to church on Wednesday! God's Word and God's people were constantly in our lives. Because of this, Sunday morning sermons were usually focused on encouraging God's people and preaching the Gospel. A pastor could focus on these things because he knew God's Word was being taught to people in several other environments. Unfortunately, all that has changed over the past several years for many of us. Now, I don't want to make anyone think those days were perfect. Far from it. We had our own problems and I probably caused some of them as a mischievious teenage boy. However, we knew God's Word. We just usually chose not to obey it. 🤪
Today's world is much different. Statistics says...
- We are losing 3 out of 4 of our youth when they go to college. We are losing many adults who just "don't care" anymore.
- Divorce rates are growing beyond 50% in the church.
- The average Christian no longer feels it is their job to share their faith with their co-worker. It is the church's job. If they even think about sharing their faith, the idea is, "If I get 'em to church, the preacher can take it from there."
Among many possible solutions to start steering this ship back toward Jesus, one answer I feel stronger about is something called... Apologetic Sermons.
(By the way, "apologetics" does not mean to apologize. It is a term that means to defend something. Therefore, an "apologetic sermon" is a message that defends the values, doctrine, and the theology of historic Christianity.)
Here are four reasons why I think Sunday sermons should change from whatever they to Apologetic Sermons:
1. Sunday sermons need to be a place to learn God's Word, not self-help tips for the American Dream. 🤔
You will not find anyone more interested in free-enterprise and self-determination than this guy. 👋 The point is none of that will work without a Christian worldview. A Biblical, Christian worldview is where we learn about honoring our neighbor, working hard, and making a difference in our world. We CAN and SHOULD try to squeeze all we can out of this life. BUT, we first need to know God's Word. Too many pastors feel the pressure of keeping up with YouTube celebrities. The reality is, the heroes of the church are not the ones with over a million instragram followers. It is people who faithfully get up every day and serve their family and community. As a pastor, we should be educating our churches to know God's Word for themselves so they can lead their families, experience freedom, and reach their neighbors.
We should not expect the church to look like the Bible if we don't teach them the Bible.
2. Sunday sermons need to be a place of "loving confrontation."
Someone told me recently he thought church was a place to get excited and encouraged. Absolutley! However, if that is all we do, we are not getting the full picture. Parents know that we want to smile and tell our kids how awesome they are all the time. But...That is not always possible. 🤷 They cannot have healthy lives unless they find the guardrails. They need to know what is good, but they also need to know where the other guardrail is. The challenge needs to be balance. There is a difference between confrontation and loving confrontation. Basically, as a pastor, this means I don't have to purposefully confront you about anything. If I will faithfully teach God's Word one verse at a time it will be confrontational enough for us all. This is one reason why I love teaching through books of the Bible one passage at a time. I don't have the opportunity of skipping anything. No matter what the Bible says, it's up next. I just have to tell people, "I don't write the mail. I just deliver it." We all have to grapple with it. You don't like it? Me neither. Let's figure out what to do with it together.
3. Sunday sermons need to focus on engagement not just emotion.
I have left church services feeling so encouraged and down right joyful. However, by the end of the day and a few arguments with my teenage girls, all that joy has dimmed. 🤣 What I need is something that is not based on how I am feeling, but something I can apply to my life. That is the difference between shot of cocaine and an antibiotic shot. One feels good but leaves you feeling worse. The other makes you feel worse at first but better in the end. This is what we desperately need. Don't just encourage me to be a godly father. Give me some good news from God's Word on how to go about becoming one. Don't tell me I can make it. Give me God's Word on how to place disciplines in my life so I will. I can watch a movie to feel good. I need God's Word to "become good."
4. Sunday sermons need to be less about personality and more about purpose.
Can I tell you something I absolutely hate? Seriously, it makes my heart hurt. Every summer, I take a couple weeks off to rest, pray, and prepare for the Fall season. During those weeks, people will say they will be back when I am. I guess it should be flattering that they only want to hear me speak, but it honestly makes me feel like I'm failing as a pastor. The hope is that you would be so in love with Jesus and love your church family that you are coming no matter who is "serving the meal" that Sunday morning. As long as they are serving it hot, fresh, and from the Lord... you're good. My hope is to pastor a church that could not care less who is speaking on Sunday. They just want the chance to worship and learn more about Jesus.
Bottom Line: We've Got Work To Do
The world is changing all around us. We live in a post-christian nation. Sure, a slight majority of people living in the United States would identify as "Christian," but our worldviews are extremely diverse. Biblical literacy is down and church attendance is down. When polling for answers the consensus is, "Why should I bother?" We need to reclaim Sunday mornings. It is no longer a time to "play around" or to have a weekly concert. We should see Sunday mornings as a time to teach, train, prepare people for a world that is growing increasingly unwelcoming to the Christian worldview. This does not mean we should feel attacked or threatened. This means we should see that the harvest is ripe and ready for the harvesters to wade into the fields and win people for Jesus.