Lukewarm spirituality

30 Dec

Alan Nelson has written a helpful article in the recent edition of Preaching Magazine, entitled “Spiritual intelligence: Improving the productivity of your preaching (without necessarily improving your preaching).” Using the parable of the soils in Mark 4:3-8, he makes the case that preachers need to spend as much time in soil (or audience) preparation as they do in seed (or sermon) preparation. His argument is based on the following, rather convicting, statement:

Anyone serving in ministry more than a decade understands the frustration of wondering whether our people are getting it. Board members gone wild, staff implosions, betrayals, bickering, mediocre stewardship, church hopping and the pettiness we see in our congregations make us wonder how effective preaching and teaching really are. While Bible conservatives may cite watered-down content as the cause, luke-warm spirituality is also rampant in our tribes, disguised by pious utterances and camouflaged in doctrinal parroting.

The bottom line is that most Christians, in spite of great preaching and teaching, merely transition from spiritual Pampers to Depends. They never grow up. They confuse longevity in church (chronos) with maturity (kairos). Is crux of the problem the overwhelming power of sin, the underwhelming umph of how we preach the gospel; or could there be another factor we’re overlooking? While I’m all for better preaching, more effective communication and continual honing of expository skills, most of us would do well to assess how we’re doing in soil preparation.

1 Comment

Posted by on December 30, 2009 in Preaching, Quotes


One response to “Lukewarm spirituality

  1. jamesbrett

    December 30, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    It seems to me that most Christians today, myself included much of the time, fall in the category of the third soil. In the parable, this soil accepts the word and becomes a Christian. But they remain unfruitful because of the worries of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth. That’s most of us. We accept Christ, call ourselves Christians, but never reach a plant’s potential in producing fruit. We never experience the fruits of the Spirit in their fullness, nor do we become fruitful in our outreach to the world.

    So I would agree with you, that the state of the soil is as (I’d say more) important than the content preached from the pulpit. And I’m really interested in hearing more about “soil preparation.” How do we do that?


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