In many churches, there is almost no public reading of the Word of God. Worship is filled with music, but congregations seem disinterested in listening to the reading of the Bible. We are called to sing in worship, but the congregation cannot live only on the portions of Scripture that are woven into songs and hymns. Christians need the ministry of the Word as the Bible is read before the congregation and God’s people — young and old, rich and poor, married and unmarried, sick and well — hear it together. The sermon is to consist of the exposition of the Word of God, powerfully and faithfully read, explained, and applied. It is not enough that the sermon take a biblical text as its starting point.
I appreciate Dr. Mohler’s thoughts here a great deal. But I’d warn of a temptation that the leadership of churches is always susceptible to, blaming the congregation for disinterest in sermons focused on the word.
The fault belongs in part, obviously, with the congregation. And I can sympathize. I once had a congregation member that would count the number of Bible verses that I read in a service, in order to complain- “He read 52 verses this Sunday!” But what Dr. Mohler doesn’t delve in too much is the other part of the problem- pastors who clearly don’t believe that the Bible is all that relevant. Nothing is more relevant than knowing who God is, and when the pastor passionately believes and preaches that, then the people can be taught to see the relevance of Scripture. So I think the fault is on both sides, and should be addressed on both sides. I remember asking a certain pastor once how he went about counseling people struggling with addictions or family problems. He said, “Oh, I don’t do that. I don’t have anything to say to people having those kinds of problems.” He just referred them to “professionals.” He was clearly a man who did not believe the Bible was terribly relevant to people’s actual problems, and it showed in his preaching.
Believers in the pews need to develop a hunger for the word. But pastors are called to preach that word in a lively fashion, showing people how that word is relevant to every aspect of their lives. And that means that the pastors have to believe that themselves.