Preacher, Work Harder.

Tuesday is for Preaching

[Revised from 2011]

I have been running into a surprising number of layman recently whose cry is depressingly similar. In Chicago, here in the suburbs, in Indiana, in Michigan, downstate in Illinois and now, in South Carolina and I keep hearing the same thing.

  • “My pastor isn’t teaching the Bible.”
  • “My pastor doesn’t preach the gospel clearly.”
  • “My pastor doesn’t seem to have any energy or passion in his preaching.”
  • “The leadership of my church doesn’t seem to understand what their job is. They don’t seem to give priority to teaching the word of God.”
  • “I need my pastor to teach theology. I want him to study hard and tell me the truth.”
  • “Marty, tell the guys you are mentoring that we need them to feed us meat. We need to be challenged. We need substance in their thought. Tell them to stay in their study and pray.”

The surprising thing is that all of the people that have said these and similar things attend evangelical churches that say they believe the Bible. So, all you church planters, missional leaders and pastors out there: here is my attempt to help you do your job better based on what I am hearing from the rank and file in your congregations. Here are a few links to previous posts that might be of some help: 

Work hard guys. You only have to please one audience. Preach for an audience of ONE. He is your Lord. Please him and your people will grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Doing your job will not always win you friends, but it will win you a “well done” from the Sovereign of the Universe. 

8 thoughts on “Preacher, Work Harder.

  1. Ya know , you are right.

    I have visited churches all over the United States and it seems most pastors and staff are in such a hurry of things,
    the sermons are grade school at best.

    I am no expert but I know when somebody is not putting forth a real passion. Of course I had the privelage of Having Marty as my
    pastor for some years. So most people I see now fall way short of my example.
    Love you brother ..



  2. Jeremiah 42:1-3 Then all the army officers, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah[a] son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest approached Jeremiah the prophet and said to him, “Please hear our petition and pray to the LORD your God for this entire remnant. For as you now see, though we were once many, now only a few are left. Pray that the LORD your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do.”

     4 “I have heard you,” replied Jeremiah the prophet. “I will certainly pray to the LORD your God as you have requested; I will tell you everything the LORD says and will keep nothing back from you.”

     5-6 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the LORD be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the LORD your God sends you to tell us. Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the LORD our God, to whom we are sending you, so that it will go well with us, for we will obey the LORD our God.”

    Jeremiah 43:1-2 When Jeremiah had finished telling the people all the words of the LORD their God—everything the LORD had sent him to tell them— Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, “You are lying! The LORD our God has not sent you to say, ‘You must not go to Egypt to settle there.’

    So that story came to mind. It’s late and maybe I shouldn’t post it but…

    I have no doubt that it is very true the word and theology needs to be taught more on average. But then those pastors need a congregation that is willing to read scripture.

    I find it difficult to teach when it is not read outside of Sunday. For one, I have a smaller less “academically educated” group and I find reading comprehension skills low, especially in the younger generation who are so media saturated they don’t know how to discipline themselves to read. And veggietales or other “media” that tells the story of scripture is… Just not enough.

    So again I’m a tired pastor tonight. Yes, we….me… Has been convicted and moved towards this. But Along with teaching more theology and biblical texts since I started with the church plant 3 years ago I have done all I can to sit down and read it with anyone or get them to call on each other to read it together and have found the culture of oversaturated media is harder to push through than just saying “preach the gospel, theology, and bible.” there are many variables all different for each locality. My variables are different than others.

    I’d be interested to hear about others.


  3. Words of encouragement from daily reflection in One Bread One Body,
    “You are My servant…through whom I show My glory.” -Isaiah 49:3
    For nearly twenty years, I’ve worked hard to lead the One Bread, One Body ministry. Yes, there are fleeting moments during this ministry when I have felt like “I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength” (Is 49:4). However, all of us in this ministry know that Jesus uses all our efforts to further His kingdom.

    Jesus, the Servant of the Lord (Is 42:1; 49:3; 52:13), must have had similar moments. He gave Judas His most precious body and blood, only to have Judas betray Him and oppose His work. His chosen leader, Peter, in whom Jesus had invested three years of daily training and love, would deny Him three times. Peter issued one denial for each year that Jesus lovingly trained him, one denial for each person of the Blessed Trinity. Jesus spent his strength and love for three years only to have all of His apostles abandon Him when He needed them most (Mk 14:50).

    Have you ever felt like your work for Jesus is in vain? (Is 49:4) “Fix your eyes on Jesus” (Heb 3:1), not on the results of your labors. As Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said, concentrate on “faithfulness, not success.” “You know that your toil is not in vain when it is done in the Lord” (1 Cor 15:58). You are called from birth to be God’s servant. “Take courage…and work!” (Hg 2:4)
    Prayer: Father, I pour out my life for You. Use me up for You.
    How very important it is to pray for our pastors!


  4. On one hand I guess what you share here Marty could be very discouraging, as far as what isn’t happening in too many churches. On the other hand, I find it very encouraging that people are hungry for God’s Word being preached and proclaimed clearly and in a way that challenges them! This is quite exciting.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jim, thanks for the kind comments. Keep seeking Christ. Your recent growth is a great encouragement to your old pastor.

    Matt, an appropriate text. Keep plugging away brother. Find the sheep where they are and keep (relentlessly) moving them to where they need to be.

    Paul, good to hear from you brother. Amen. Keep praying for the pastors of America and around the world. Every pastor is better when a flock takes seriously its responsibility to pray.

    Shannon, it was great to see you at TGC. I’m praying for your next move. It is encouraging to know that the flock wants meat. To be sure, some want meat because they will not exercise (i.e. go out and interact with their neighbors about the claims of Christ). They simply want to gorge themselves at the table that someone else has prepared. But they are fewer in number. Keep giving substance to people and they will become substantive people.


  6. Why teach the Word?
    No man is better for knowing that God in the beginning created the heaven and the earth. The devil knows that, and so did Ahab and Judas Iscariot. No man is better for knowing that God so loved the world of men that He gave His only begotten Son to die for their redemption. In hell there are millions who know that.

    Theological truth is useless until it is obeyed. The purpose behind all doctrine is to secure moral action…. Any man with fair pulpit gifts can get on with the average congregation if he just “feeds” them and lets them alone. Give them plenty of objective truth and never hint that they are wrong and should be set right, and they will be content.

    On the other hand, the man who preaches truth and applies it to the lives of his hearers will feel the nails and the thorns. He will lead a hard life, but a glorious one. May God raise up many such prophets. The church needs them badly. AW Tozer; Of God and Men, 25-28.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Our Church had pie eating contest in the middle of a sermon, and it didnt seem to bother anyone. Thats how far we have fallen.


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