“Martin Luther King was fond of citing Reinhold Niebuhr’s distinction between hope and optimism. Optimism believes in progress, that circumstances will get better. Hope, however, is built on the conviction that another reality, another Kingdom, already exists. So hope endures when hype fails.”
The Church today needs more hope and less hype. The Church today needs to offer (and thus project) more hope and less hype. I, for one, am tired of hype. Tired of emotional manipulation. Tired of false excitement and a pile of “praise the Lord” when it comes as an automatic, trained response and not from the heart as a natural response to a supernatural move of the Holy Spirit.
Some time back I was teaching in a local church and someone in attendance came up to justify why they were now attending there and no longer attending the church I pastor. They had left without notice several years previous to my meeting them on this particular night. They explained that they enjoyed my teaching and had learned a lot – but they went looking for some good, solid preaching. Enough of the teacher – bring on the preacher.
Well, there are teachers and preachers in the Bible and they are different. Know the difference? Well, according to my understanding of the Scriptures a preacher is someone who brings the Good News or preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the unsaved. And, a teacher is someone who disciples and feeds (by teaching God’s Word) those who are committed, born again Christians.
Most define the difference between the two by style of preaching. The preacher is more alive and dynamic, tells more stories, yells a lot, and is generally more vibrant and dynamic. The teacher usually is slightly less dynamic (a polite way to say ‘somewhat boring’) and goes through the Bible verses line-upon-line and precept-upon-precept. They see the preacher as someone who motives (is that another word for ‘hype’?) the crowd and gets a response from them – working the crowd. The teacher as more sedate and quiet.
Personally, I believe that there needs to be much less hype and much more of the Word of God being declared in the pulpits of our nations. If the Word is taught and Jesus is declared then people will come to a “living hope” as Peter wrote in his epistle and there will be absolutely no need for hype of any kind in the Church or from the pulpit – no more hype from either the preachers or teachers.
Maybe I am being a little unfair. Afterall, I have not listened to a large sample of “teachings” and “preachings” from others … and what I have listened to and watched is definitely not a scientific sample by any stretch of the imagination. I have listened, I am sure, to too many men and women who have big ministries and are on television and radio. So, I admit I have not heard the average guy or gal in the average sized church in this nation. But, then many of the pulpit people take their lead from the media pulpits and model themselves after these “successful” preachers and teachers.
What we really need is a quiet revolution where a new generation of teachers and preachers stand quietly in the pulpits and front rooms of the nation and simply declare an accurate Word from the Bible – a now Word from the Lord each and every time they stand to declare the truth as found in holy scriptures. No gymnastics, no theatrics, no performing or impressing – just take what the Lord has revealed to your heart and share it with the people – having first saturated it in prayer asking that this Word of the Lord would go directly to their hearts and bring transformation and not just more information to the hearers.
When it is a true Word from the Lord for the believers you won’t need hype – as the Holy Spirit will use that Word to bring hope to those who hear it.
When it is a true Word from the Lord for non-believers you won’t need hype – the Holy Spirit will bring conviction of sin and people will repent and turn to the Lord and receive the wonderful gifts of forgiveness and eternal life. No hype needed – but hope will be instilled.
So, Lord, raise up a new generation of preachers and teachers who will spend quality time alone with you daily so that they have your heart for the people they are going to share with. Raise up men and women who will no longer simply find some nice ‘thing’ to teach people adding hype so it will appear anointed. Raise up men and women who will gently and lovingly declare a now Word from the Lord without hype but that always brings hope. Let there be more hope and a lot less hype.