So poignant was this letter when I first read it that I wanted to share it with you exactly as I received it. May the Lord do in all of us ministers what Kenny so longs for in the Church!
[This letter was included in Heartcry, A Journal on Revival and Spiritual Awakening, Issue 33, Fall 2005]
Editor’s Note: Heartcry Journal received the following letter within the past month. The passion and insight contained in it seemed worth sharing with our readers. We pass it on in the spirit it was given—with a broken heart and desperation for God.
The other day I heard a pastor (not my pastor) preach a lifeless, passionless, pointless sermon with no power and no fire. I am not referring to animated “aerobic exercise class” preaching. (Vance Havner, a great man of God, preached with power and passion and fire, yet he was not animated but monotone and motionless in his preaching style) The message I heard the other day was a waste of my time, and that provokes me to say the following to preachers:
We are thirsty and we are hungry. We are hurting and we need help. We need the fire of God and we need the power of God. And preacher, we need you. You have a special calling on your life, and God has chosen you to be His voice.
But what we don’t need are more “cute,” alliterated sermons, as helpful as alliteration can be in communicating a message. What we don’t need are more sermons that have three points, six sub-points, and a cute, closing story or poem, as helpful as that may be in communicating a message. What we don’t need are more funny, silly jokes in sermons. What we don’t need is for you to keep referring to yourself when you preach. And what we don’t need is to hear more sermons from the Internet or from some book that was purchased at the latest Christian bookstore sale.
What we need is for our preachers to have the fire of God. What we need is for our preachers to have the power of God. What we need is for our preachers to have a passion for the messages that are proclaimed. What we need is for our preachers to feed us from the written Word of God. What we need is for our preachers to be consumed by fire from heaven so that we ourselves may join you in being consumed by God. What we need is for our preachers to be consumed by their passion for the Word of God.
Please help us, preachers. We know that we have a personal responsibility for our own walk with God. But we need help. We are weak, we are frail, we are forgetful. We need to hear from heaven. We don’t need to hear about fishing trips or cruises in sermons. We don’t need more covered dish suppers at the church. We don’t need to hear about the local football team in messages that are preached. We don’t need to hear of accomplishments and awards and degrees. What we want to hear is that you have been approved by God to proclaim His Word to us.
We are perishing in the pews, and we perish because there is little or no vision of God in some of our pulpits. We are tired of hearing Proverbs 29:18 misinterpreted and applied to long-range planning. We, the people, are perishing because there is no vision of God.
Rise up! Stand up! And don’t settle for mediocrity! Don’t settle for less! Get all you can from God, give it to us, and then go back and get some more. Pursue God with passion. Don’t go into the pulpit until you have a message from Him to proclaim to us. Don’t preach until you know that you are right with God. Don’t go into the pulpit until you know you are anointed by God and have the fire of God.
PS: It has been said that where there is smoke, there is fire. Sadly, though, smoke can also be an indication that the fire has gone out.