Christ?

I’d like to issue a challenge to those of you in my audience who still attend fundamentalist churches. (The rest of you can try this too as a control group). The quest is a simple one: next Sunday try to find Jesus in your pastor’s sermon.

In a Christian church one wouldn’t imagine that it would be too hard to find Christ. Yet, as I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time last month listening to sermons from some who are proclaimed to be the premier fundamentalist speakers in America, it has struck me that Jesus is strangely absent most of the time. It’s profoundly disturbing.

I’ve heard sermons about dad’s teaching their kids, and how to deal with life’s struggles (pray more and be more thankful!) and all kinds of guilt trips and pressure to conform…but there’s no Jesus. Nothing is more awful to behold than Christians who have forgotten who Christ is or the centrality of The Gospel in our message. It’s tragic. It breaks my heart.

Without Christ there’s no redemption for our broken condition, just condemnation of our struggles. Without Christ there is no power to vanquish sin and death just the weakened arm of flesh trying desperately for a perfection it can never attain. Without Christ there’s no joy but rather a dreadful commandment to rejoice without really knowing why. Without Christ we are of all men most miserable.

Oh, and if you really want to get weirded out, try this too: count the number of time the preacher references himself and his own stories and then compare them to the mentions of the works and ministry of Christ. You’ll likely be surprised.

138 thoughts on “Christ?”

  1. I have actually been pleasantly surprised at my new church – the pastor very rarely references himself or tells stories about himself, and the illustrations he uses to support his points are from, well, the Bible instead of a book of sermon illustrations.

    We have been talking about the road to the cross (leading up to Easter, naturally), so all of the recent sermons have mentioned Jesus. I will, however, keep careful notes this Sunday, just to be part of the control. :o)

  2. Kudos Darrell. This has my vote as the best post ever on SFL.

    Honestly, the only reason I go to church is because sometimes I get a view of Christ. When I don’t, I consider it wasted time.

    1. If I may, JimE, but is gathering with your community of believers a waste of time? If the only reason you attend a church gathering is to “get a view of Christ,” perhaps you’re not going to your gatherings with the right intent.

      Or, if your church gatherings are nothing more than a preacher’s attempt at giving people a “view of Christ,” perhaps you should consider joining a new church.

      The biblical perception of church is an open, authentic community of people who are following the Way of Jesus and meeting needs in their areas, engaging the culture around them, and learning together what it looks like to follow Jesus.

  3. I consider myself very fortunate that my pastor DOES preach Christ. There are plenty of fundy moments in his sermons, but he has also been through some valleys that have pointed him to Christ and away from himself. The longer he pastors, the more evident this becomes. It’s refreshing!
    On the other end of the spectrum is our assistant pastor who uses himself as EVERY example of how to live, how serving God brings blessings, blah, blah, blah…. Honestly, that’s all we hear when he speaks – noise. Sad but true.
    Thanks for another great post, Darrell.

    1. The youth pastor at my old church was EXACTLY the same way. It was all about “him”. Funny thing was he saw all other preachers as arrogant and proud..hmmm…

  4. Yeah, and then do the same thing to a Catholic homily anywhere on YouTube or ITunes…..surreal.

    This was totally “it” for me when I realized that Jesus was nowhere in my Bible training at an infamous university in Greenville, SC or in my subsequent employment there. It was strangely lacking in my fundy BJU-trained pastor-led church I faithfully attended and served in for more than 40 years.

    They.just.don’t.get.it.

  5. While very unfortunately true of many fundy churches, I have to say that this has improved in those “infamous” Greenville circles over the last few years. Largely, I believe, due to influence spilling over from the neo-Reformed crowd, there has been a renewed emphasis on the gospel, and with that comes a sharper focus on Christ. Granted, my strongest connections were with some of the healthier area churches (HBC, HPBC, UBC Clemson). I do believe I saw an improvement in the chapel platform, as well, though.

  6. Just a couple of points on the chuck phelps site that burn me up inside:

    1. mention of them giving Tina the entire 2500 for her mission trip to Ireland – why do you need to prove that you care for her? 2500? guilt money?

    2. claims that they filed police reports – why don’t you post copies of those reports to your site as proof?

  7. Good luck, friends. If perchance you find Him, He will most likely still be just mentioned in passing during some story that ultimately promotes the “Preacher”.

    ***sigh***

    Thank God for His deliverance.

  8. Howdy folks. Yeah…I know this is late in the game, but I have just been doing some catch-up binge reading of the site today, and I thought I’d leave my first comment here. Pastor Paul Chappell passes your test every time I hear him preach. He clearly and properly proclaims the Gospel in a loving manner every Sunday morning.

    I am a two-week graduate of WCBC and former member of Lancaster Baptist Church there. I gotta say, Pastor Paul Chappell is one of THE most Christ-preaching, God-honoring preachers I have heard in my life.

    Coming from a college that is “Fundamentalist,” Yeah, we get some typical, what you call, “fundy” preachers in chapel that harp on their pet issues and don’t preach the Bible, but man, Pastor Chappell has really earned my respect for his love for Christ, compassion for the lost, and heart for training exegetical, Christ-honoring preachers at WCBC. If you need proof on this, I challenge you to watch some of his recent sermons, including “Three Preachers who need to Quit.” Amazing, Biblical stuff.

    I hope I don’t come off as a “fanboy” or brainwashed by my alma mater. I really am not. I’ve been to some doozey “fundy” churches, and the typical “fundy” mentality makes me squirm. I don’t even think I’ll call myself an IFB. I’m just a Baptist, one who (tries to, no one is perfect…) follow the Bible as his sole authority, and one who was blessed to learn from genuine Christianity.

    1. This was a random post I came across and I just have to say this, Drewski. If he’s one of the “most Christ-preaching, God-honoring preachers” you’ve ever heard, you need to get out more.

      Really.

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