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WHEN DID THE CHURCH BECOME LIKE MCDONALDS?

By Barry Cameron
October 15, 2021

When her preachers started serving “Happy Meals” to their people rather than delivering “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26-27).

Donald Grey Barnhouse, former pastor of the Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, said, “It is my prayer that no man shall ever stand in this pulpit as long as time shall last who does not desire to have all that he does based upon this Book (the Bible). For this Book does not contain the Word of God, it is the Word of God. And though we may preach the word with all the stammering limitations of our human nature, the grace of God does the miracle or the ministry, and through human lips speaks the divine Word, and the hearts of the people are refreshed. There is no other explanation for the continuing power of a church that is poorly located, that is without endowment, but which continues to draw men and women to the capacity of its seating arrangements, morning and evening, summer and winter, and which sends its sons and daughters by the score to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ throughout the world.” 1

Charles Spurgeon said, “The preaching of Christ is the whip that flogs the devil. The preaching of Christ is the thunderbolt, the sound of which makes all hell shake.” 

Heard a sermon like that lately? I didn’t think so.

A lot of sermons today could be called clever, cute, creative and catchy. But you wouldn’t call them biblical. In fact, many of them are anything but. You’re unlikely even to hear the word “sermon” anymore. Instead, it’s a “talk.” And when you hear one of the “talks” you are more likely to hear passages from prominent business leaders, Hollywood icons and sports superstars than you are the Apostle Paul or Jeremiah

Paul said, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2). 

In too many churches, “reprove” and “rebuke” have been repackaged or completely removed. It’s nothing but exhortation. Here’s the problem with that: First of all, it undermines the balanced approach Paul prescribed. A three-legged stool has strength, stability and staying power. A one-legged stool is broken and utterly useless. But second, and perhaps even more serious, is what it produces. We can tell people how great God is all the time. But we cannot, must not and should not tell people how great they are all the time or we create a crowd of cotton candy consumers who only want to hear how great they are, again and again, and ultimately get to the place where they don’t even want to hear about God … at all.

You can draw a crowd with cotton candy preaching. Big crowds! But a cotton candy diet won’t produce fully-devoted disciples of JESUS. Instead, it produces perpetual babies who never grow up and are never satisfied until they get another shot of superficial sugar (2 Timothy 4:3-5).

“You can draw a crowd with cotton candy preaching. Big crowds! But a cotton candy diet won’t produce fully-devoted disciples of JESUS.”

There’s a difference between preaching God’s Word and preaching about it. Those who don’t know the difference shouldn’t be preaching. Too many modern-day preachers are nothing more than fast food franchisers providing what people want to hear instead of what God’s Word says. Unlike JESUS, Who spoke the truth and the crowds went away (John 6:66), too many of today’s preachers know no compromise they would be unwilling to make as long as the crowds keep coming.

John Stott said, “All true Christian preaching should be expository … The expositor opens what seems to be closed, makes plain what is confusing, unravels what is knotted, and unfolds what is tightly packed.”

It’s not just a matter of style or preference. When Scripture is relegated to a supporting role, we’ve missed the whole point of preaching. Paul said, “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).

The New Living Translation puts it this way, “Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.”

We need to get back to preaching the Word, in season and out of season. We need to get back to reproving, rebuking and exhorting. We need to get back to giving people not just what they want to hear, but what they need to hear: the truth of God’s Word. The whole truth and nothing but the truth – “the whole counsel of God” before it’s too late.

These brilliant lines by Tom Graffagnino, supply the perfect summary ...

“When the Bride of Christ retreated, 
Nihilism stormed the stage. 
Now we’re sifting through the rubble 
Of the spirit of the age. 
  
When we dropped the Ten Commandments, 
‘Well, Whatever’ took it’s place. 
Now we’re work, work, working madly 
To find substitutes for Grace. 
  
Every therapeutic theory 
Friend, is in the spotlight now. 
Freud 'n' Marx and Master Darwin 
Have come out to take a bow. 
  
Welcome to the consequences 
Of the post-postmodern herd 
Where the Feel-Goods have stampeded 
Over Truth...(God's Holy Word). 
 
I confess the mess we stepped in 
Shouldn't be a big surprise. 
The result is just what happens 
When the Gospel's compromised.” 2
 
© 2021. Barry L. Cameron

1 Boice, James Montgomery. Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace?: Rediscovering the Doctrines That Shook the World. Crossway Books, 2009.

2 Tom Graffagnino, via Victor Knowles II.

BARRY CAMERON

Senior Pastor

Barry Cameron is a devoted father and husband, bestselling author, dynamic communicator, and Senior Pastor of Crossroads Christian Church. Crossroads has a gorgeous, 150-acre campus in Grand Prairie, Texas. More than 8000 people call Crossroads their church home. Barry’s latest book, The Road to Financial Freedom, came out in the fall of 2020 and is available on Amazon. It’s another game changer for individuals and families who want to fix their finances once and for all.

Barry and his wife, Janis, have three children: Katie, Matt and Kelli. A daughter-in-law, Lindley and a son-in law, Johnny. They also have two grandsons, Will and Levi. Their family has been completely debt free since November 15, 2001.

Crossroads Christian Church has been debt free since November 9, 2008.

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