Should Pastors Follow the Advice of Atheists?

Tuesday is for Preaching

Contemporary WorshipRead an atheist site that was grading church worship services and sermons based on the following criteria:

  • Doing good to your fellow human.
    Being good doesn’t mean converting him or her to your religion.  It means being nice, forgiving, reasonable, and tolerant. Religious leaders who include this theme in their sermon will receive a point or two.  Religious leaders who say something counter to this will get docked a point.
  • Help your community
    Helping your community doesn’t mean converting them to your religion.  It means helping people in need, direct charity and work to worthy humanitarian projects.  This can be either local, regional, national, or international, but should involve some kind of request for charity money or volunteer time.  This can be to a religious organization (obviously) but not one exclusively designed to spread the faith.  -1 to 2 points.
  • Be good to yourself
    Chill out, relax, enjoy yourself.  I’m looking for messages of personal empowerment, self-help, the general idea that it is okay for you to be you.  -1 to 2 points.
  • Good and timely advice
    Advice on how to be a moral, ethical, useful, and decent human being.  I will accept anything at all as “good” advice, even if I don’t agree with it, except for “go convert others to your religion” and of course, anything illegal or in conflict with the other criteria.   This might overlap a bit with the others, and if it does, I’ll do my best to parse it out.

Questions:

  1. How would following this criteria help your sermon prep?
  2. How would following this criteria be a disaster to your sermon prep?
  3. What is redeemable from this criteria?
  4. What is a complete throw-away from this criteria?

3 thoughts on “Should Pastors Follow the Advice of Atheists?

  1. Over on Facebook, Dillon Evans said:
    “Seems very self centered approach but I guess you can’t expect the atheist mind to want a message to contain the Gospel. I say somewhat helpful as the atheist needs Jesus as much as anyone but a little absurd to be taking preaching advice from someone who denies the existence of God.”

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    1. Exactly. All of these things are good points and have their appropriate place in the Christian’s life and ministry, but none of them give us as sinners what we need most, the gospel. Our good works that were prepared before the foundation of the world are just filthy rags until we are adorned with Christ’s righteousness. We live in a day and culture that makes it very difficult to grasp why the gospel is good news… because we do not see our sin. Unless we learn once again to see that we are sinners in desperate need of God’s grace, we will find ourselves contemplating the moral goodness of even those who deny God. Great post you offer… makes one think.

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  2. 1. All but “be good to yourself” are biblical principles. Good timely advice would include wisdom from God’s word, experience from a pastor, and testimonies.
    2. It leaves out the cross and an intense focus on God.
    3. “Be good to yourself” in that, rest, reflection, and understanding how to walk in the liberties we have in Christ and trusting in God’s power to cause us to excel in HIS will are sound and empowering.
    4. The idea of not converting people to Christianity is a complete throw away.

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