From Critical Mass – Part 5: Homilectic Gluttons, after understanding that preaching is only part of a good church…
Protestantism’s Centrality of Preaching
Because the Protestant church was born as a reaction to the theological corruption of the Catholic Church, which did not preach Paul’s and Augustine’s gospel message of salvation by grace through faith, the Protestants have always emphasized preaching. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Protestants have always built their churches around preaching. This has always been a mistake. The church has three marks: preaching, the sacraments, and discipline. None is supposed to take precedence institutionally. None is supposed to become “first among equals.”
….and the benefits of a weekly Lord’s Supper…
If a Protestant were to visit a church that had quarterly preaching, he would not return. Such a church would not survive. Yet most Protestants attend churches that serve the Lord’s Supper quarterly. A few may celebrate this sacrament monthly. John Calvin never doubted that it is supposed to be served weekly; virtually none of his disciples believe this today. They take their stand with the magistrates of Geneva, who forbade Calvin and the other pastors to serve weekly communion. The Genevan magistrates well understood that weekly communion would elevate the church’s sanctions, which are temporal and eternal, above the civil government’s exclusively temporal sanctions. They shut off this challenge to their authority by the threat of civil sanctions. It is difficult to understand why Calvin’s spiritual heirs have sided with the magistrates. Perhaps it is because they fear the added responsibility that a church with sanctions more respected than the State’s would place on them.
“Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.” – John 19:15b, my bold
If today’s evangelical churches were to elevate the celebration of the Lord’s Supper to its status as judicially equal to the sermon, they would have to begin excommunicating sinners. Excommunication is the concomitant practice to communion. This would mean added judicial responsibility for pastors and elders. Today, the State threatens churches that excommunicate public adulterers, as a church in Oklahoma discovered a few years ago. The humanist State fears the church’s rival authority. The pastors and elders are almost equally fearful of their own authority. This is why Protestant pastors rarely preach on Matthew 16:19: “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” It scares them.
If Christians don’t rule their enemies, then the enemies of God shall rule Christians.
I weary of the supposed triumph of these murderous, lying, perverted, short-sighted incompetents.
Christians must learn to rule, and have confidence that mastery and application of the Bible and it’s Laws, coupled with the Holy Spirit, will lead to victory. From self-goverenace, to church, to family and work, to town and county, and finally the national government.
The result is the Protestant tradition of the centrality of preaching. This has placed a heavy responsibility on homiletical skills, while reducing it for judicial skills. The Protestant Church has therefore become a “voice-only” institution. This matches the desire of the “ears-only” church member described by James: “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.”
Voice only, and ears only, isn’t good enough. Not even a little bit.
Achieving the Extraordinary
The success of the Church international is not built on great preaching, any more than the success of McDonald’s international is built on great cooking. It is built on word-and-deed evangelism by its members: ordinary people who are trained in simplified service programs that are carefully designed to produce extraordinary results. The success of the system must never become dependent on the availability of extraordinary people, either in the pulpit or in the pews. There are too few extraordinary people. Worse; the gospel is designed to alienate extraordinary people. “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” (1 Cor. 1:27).
Yes: by and large, the top of the pyramid, the smartest men in the room, the leading men of society,,. are not invited to eternal life.
This means that the Church must work with average men, with average capabilities.
“Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.” — Luke14:16-24
The successful rejected Christ, but His house will be filled.
What is needed today are manuals on how to serve God in a wide variety of ways. Each manual has to break down the service system into easily remembered and easily mastered steps. The assigned task must be achievable through a series of simple steps. The old military rule is correct: KISS — Keep It Simple, Stupid.
It’s time to get to work.