Like many children who grow up in church, I learned how to endure the blah-blah-blah of long sermons.
When you’re five or six, you survive them by scrutinizing everything within arm’s reach: the back of the head in front of you, the misshapen ears, the offering envelopes which you fold into a tiny ball, the half-length pencils whose tips you break. Sometimes you poke your little brother, which provokes your mother and keeps things interesting.
When you’re fifteen or sixteen, you can listen to some of the blah-blah-blah, but your attention comes and goes. Maybe you daydream. Maybe you wonder what the other teenagers in the room think of you, especially the members of the opposite sex.
I also remember at this age watching the preacher walk around the platform. He would stroll to one side of the pulpit nonchalantly, as if he were walking up to you at a backyard barbeque. Then he’d amble to the other side of the pulpit, like he wanted to say hello to a family who just arrived. Sometimes he’d casually lean sideways with one hand resting on the pulpit. The whole thing intrigued me. It was so friendly and down to earth.
Of course, I wasn’t really listening to what he said…
All of this causes a person to ask whether preaching is that important to the lives of Christians and churches.
The preaching didn’t make much of a difference in my life in high school, or in the lives of some of my friends and their parents. I left high school for college, quit attending church, and jumped into the party scene. So did many of my friends. By God’s grace, I came back to Christ and to His church after college. But many of those friends did not. Today they are stuck in agnosticism, materialism, alcoholism, and more. Many of the parents I looked up to are now divorced.
What good did all those sermons do?
Reverberation: How God’s Word Brings Light, Freedom, and Action to His People, Jonathan Leeman, p. 15-16