5. We have told our people to pray and then not shown them how or kept it before them.
The problem is we cannot say, “This one thing I do.” (Philippians 3:13) We try to do it all. So we bring a sermon one Sunday on prayer, the next Sunday on stewardship, then on world missions, Bible study, racial justice, and so forth. No one area gets sufficient treatment. Our coverage is a mile wide and an inch deep.
The problem, I expect, is also prayerless preachers. If I’m not doing it, I’m sure not going to be able to encourage you in it.
We have raised a generation of prayerless, powerless warriors.
6. We have catered to their prejudices and ignored their idolatries.
The problem is our provincialism. In one area, high school football is ‘god,’ and everyone (including the churches) must organize their schedules around it. In another area, it’s community festivals or civic pageants or pro sports or the social calendar. One dares not speak out from the pulpit against the excesses and abuses of these idolatries, not if he wants to remain popular in the community or even keep his job.
Some areas of the country are still diseased with racism. Others have compromised their integrity by a marriage of the church with politics.
I pastored in the Mississippi Delta in the late 1960s–at the very place where the White Citizens Councils were formed and at the very time Martin Luther King was assassinated–and found out all too quickly that church leaders grow most uncomfortable when the pastor takes a stand on racial issues. I did it anyway, you might be interested to know. My only regret is not doing it even more forcefully than I did.
We have raised a generation who expect and even demand that the pastor respect the sensibilities of the locals and tailor the gospel to fit the situation.
7. We have smiled at their ignorance of the Word and done little to remedy it.
The problem is sin. Even though the Holy Spirit within us reaches out for the Word and our spirit feeds upon it, our “old man” resists picking up the Bible during the week and making a serious study of it. So the typical church member ignores his Bible all week, then searches it out on Sunday morning in time to take it along to church.
We have placed Bibles in the pews since fewer and fewer of our people bring them to church.
Preaching from the Bible is easy enough. But preaching and teaching so as to make faithful Bible students of our people is another matter altogether.
We have raised a generation of flabby believers who “befriend” Jesus but hardly know Him.