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|This Had Better Be About the Bible
|Thursday, June 20, 2019|
When I first began preaching, I ran every sermon outline by my friend and mentor, Mike Kellogg of Moody Radio. Peering over his glasses, he matched his steely stare with a deep-throated warning I’ve never forgotten: “This had better be about the Bible.”
Throughout my ordination process, that same truth chiseled itself into my soul. In truth, I still think about it every time I’m crafting a sermon outline. It is the yardstick I use to measure my own sermons—and those of others.
A few weeks ago we traveled to Florida, our flight taking place during Sunday morning church hours. Later that day, my wife and I decided we’d watch a sermon on the iPad. I selected a pastor whose book was released by the largest Christian publisher in America.
We listened carefully, expecting solid Bible content. But we heard precious little. There were many stories and many good points and lots of good truths to ponder. But most of the sermon could honestly have been transcribed and handed off for delivery by a secular self-help speaker.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love stories. At heart, I am little more than a story teller. And stories are great. Jesus told tons of them. Yet when it comes to a Sunday morning message, I am keenly aware that my stories must never overshadow the Bible text, but instead, reinforce it or illustrate it.
As a minister of the gospel, I am standing as God’s representative, opening God’s Word to God’s people. This ought to put a holy fear into the hearts of those of us who would presume to preach.
Wondering if perhaps I was being a bit harsh on the iPad preacher, or if our initial impressions were wrong, I went back and watched that same sermon again—this time with a careful eye on the clock.
The sermon itself was 35:06 in length. I ran a stopwatch app, noting every single instance the preacher either read from the Bible, referenced a passage, or tried to explain the passage. The most generous of measurements shows a maximum of 6:25 of actual Bible content. Meaning just 19% of the message quoted or explained Scripture.
In a day when 69% of churchgoers believe that everyone will go to heaven…In a day when 56% of churchgoers don’t believe that sharing their faith is an essential obligation of their Christian life...how can a sermon with 19% biblical content be okay?
This Sunday, your church will feature a sermon. It had better be about the Bible
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