When you go to church, what do you hear? What does the pastor talk about? Does he spend his time giving you the variations of the word “love” in Greek? Does he talk about the demands in Scripture and how you are to keep them? Does he tell you he has a “word of knowledge” that the Holy Spirit suddenly dropped on him?
In the first case, if the pastor is caught up giving you background information, he is merely feeding your intellectual curiosity. There is a time for that, but it should not be the overriding message or tone of the sermon. This feeds the mind.
In the second case, if the pastor always wants to give you “application points” of how to “carry out” Christian living, then he is feeding your sense of “rightness”.
In the third case, if the pastor is occasionally saying something like, “There’s someone here who has a medical condition; God wants to tell you …” then he is feeding hope in this life.
The above sermons are templates of how modern evangelical preaching is worked out in the pulpit. All of them feed the flesh. They are leading you into a self-centered existence. This should not be the content of Christian preaching.
Christian preaching should have the following hallmarks:
1. It should be about Jesus, not you. If you are mentioned in the sermon (not individual, but generically), it should be to point out our inability to gain heaven through efforts of our own.
2. It should be about the work of Jesus on the cross. He has come to justify us. This is a five-dollar word that most Christians consider background noise. It should be foreground proclamation.
3. As the Scripture is read and gone through by the pastor, it is his job to separate and proclaim the Law and the Gospel. I don’t care what denomination you come from, “The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel” is a must read if you want the Holy Spirit to feed the faith of your congregation.
If more pastors and missionaries would more closely follow these simple recommendations, we would have more Christians in the world and less narcissists.