3 Sacred Cows in Preaching that Need to Be Tipped by Jared Moore

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Guest blogger Jared Moore is the pastor of New Salem Baptist Church in Hustonville, KY. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Below is an excerpt from his book 10 Sacred Cows in Christianity That Need to be Tipped which is currently free on Amazon Kindle – get it while it’s free!


A ‘sacred cow’ in the church is a tradition that has been exalted to a position of normalcy without Biblical warrant. It’s time for some cow tipping in the local church.

Here are three sacred cows in preaching that need to be tipped. . .

Sacred Cow #1
Entertaining Sermons

There is a real temptation in preaching today to pursue being liked for the wrong reasons by our congregations. We must seek to reveal God’s glory, instead of pursuing being liked by those who may have itching ears (2 Tim. 4:3). Some church leaders want to be liked so much that they seek to entertain their hearers while preaching the Bible. Unfortunately, Scripture is often the garnish or the footnote, rather than being the main point of their entertaining sermons. The danger in seeking to entertain through our sermons is that we may be encouraging people to enjoy our sermons without enjoying Jesus—the One who they were created for (Col. 1:16-17).

Unfortunately, when we seek to entertain our hearers, we prove we don’t believe that God or Scripture can hold the attention of God’s people—at least that’s what our dependence on entertainment communicates. In other words, we may say “the Bible is worthy of your attention,” but if we use entertainment to communicate this truth, then we’re undercutting our message with our methods. We’re feeding our hearers’ sinful appetites for entertaining sermons, when God’s word demands their attention because where the Bible speaks God speaks (2 Tim. 3:16-17). God was not a comedian when He spoke to His people in Scripture. Pastors who speak to His people today shouldn’t feel the need to be comedians either. Remember that the goal of preaching is to preach God’s word (2 Tim. 4:1-5), not to appease our hearers’ sinful appetites. We just might be entertaining our hearers to death (Matt. 7:21-23; Rom. 3:23; John 14:6).

Sacred Cow #2
Relevant Sermons

There’s an emphasis today on preaching ‘relevant’ sermons, which often translates to sermons that meet people’s needs. This emphasis puts unwarranted pressure on pastors or teachers to cater to their hearers’ needs regardless of whether these needs are God-honoring or not. The temptation is to present a self-help gospel, or a gospel that costs our hearers nothing, or any other gospel that tickles itching ears (2 Tim. 4:1-5). Instead of succumbing to the sinful desires of our hearers, we must preach the word (2 Tim. 4:1-2).

Our goal as preachers is not to make the Bible relevant, but to help our hearers understand how relevant the Bible already is due to God being its Author (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Bible is the word of God and is timelessly relevant. The Bible transcends all societies, cultures, and fads. If the Bible is God’s word–and it is–how could it ever be not relevant? How could God ever be not relevant to His image-bearers (Gen. 1:26-28)? Thus, our task is to accurately explain God’s word, and to help our hearers apply it to their daily lives. God’s word will then convict and save those who have ears to hear (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Heb. 4:12).

Sacred Cow #3
Successful Preaching Ministry

In order to define our preaching ministries as successful or unsuccessful, we are often tempted to submit to demigod evaluations instead of to Scripture. A demigod is a deified mortal. In claiming to accurately evaluate our preaching ministries as successful or unsuccessful we claim to have God’s all-knowing evaluating ability. We unwittingly claim to be demigods.

In most conferences and denominations, those who are held up as examples are those who have large churches. They are often held up as examples because of demigod evaluations carried out by those in various leadership positions. These ministers may be successful in God’s estimation, or they may not be. The truth of the matter is that we cannot accurately evaluate our preaching ministries or other people’s preaching ministries beyond the criterion of the word of God. We do not know the hearts of all those who attend our churches.

Therefore, faithfulness to Scripture should govern and motivate our preaching ministries, not a demigod evaluation made by us or others. We must pursue faithfulness to Scripture in light of Christ’s redeeming work, not faithfulness to evaluations that either boost our ego or cast doubt on our calling from God. Whether God has called us to be like Jonah (who had great numeric response to his preaching) or like Jeremiah (who had no numeric response to his preaching), we must remain faithful to our calling:

“1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Tim. 4:1-5).”

In other words, we’re free in Christ to evaluate our preaching ministries based on Scripture; nothing more, and nothing less.

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The above article was posted on November 29, 2014 by Mark Lamprecht.
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Michael Snow November 29, 2014 at 10:39 pm

How can you be against “the great god Entertainment”? (Tozer’s words)

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