Of interest to many pastors, ministry leaders, and church support organizations is the rise in the number of people who consider themselves to be “nones” and/or “dones.” The “nones” group is comprised of people who respond to questions related to religious affiliation with “none.” The second group is comprised of people who are “done” with the Church as an institution. It is not my intention here to detail and discuss the myriad reasons for these responses. I mention them because I think they share a common root cause.
A large percentage of the nones have never darkened the door of a church. Their knowledge of Christianity is based solely on what they happen to observe on television or hear their friends or family discuss. The dones are on the other end of the spectrum. They have for the most part been raised in the Church, have been active in various roles, and still profess faith in God even though they no longer attend any Church services. Many opt instead for home fellowships or other gatherings of believers in an informal setting.
What do these groups have in common? Simply they both want a message that matters and neither group is hearing one. The nones among us are not necessarily anti-Christian. Indeed spirituality is at an all-time high in America so there is a large percentage of seekers among the nones. Unfortunately the modern Church is more concerned with feeding God’s people the latest self-help pop psychology wrapped in Christian garb than it is teaching God’s Word faithfully book by book and chapter by chapter in a systematic and comprehensive fashion. The competition is fierce in the self-help category with the likes of Oprah, Chopra, and Osteen carrying the day. No wonder nones aren’t listening to the religious equivalent of this group of new age icons.
The dones likewise long for a clear declaration of God’s truth through a matter-of-fact exposition of the text. A large number of pastors have rejected a deep dive into the Scriptures and an equally challenging presentation of the biblical texts. Their weekly offering of the Word falls well short of being spiritual food and nourishment for God’s people. This is so because God must be the focus of our exposition and Christ the answer to the issues we face. When the focus becomes people, their problems, and the steps they must take to regain their happy life, a concoction of spiritual poison has been brewed and dispensing that week after week will guarantee a Laodicean church.
King David declared in Psalm 19:7 that “the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” This entire chapter is devoted to general (v. 1-6) and special (v. 7-13) revelation. The point in verse eight is that God’s Word is sure because it is trustworthy. It is trustworthy because it corresponds to reality. In other words, God’s Word speaks with razor sharpness concerning our common human condition and provides the same clarity when it comes to what remedy He has provided for us.
Pastors, it is time to scale again the mountaintop of biblical exposition and declaration. God has called you to that task, He has supplied you with all you need to perform it, and the people He has entrusted to your care must have it. We are called to be theologians and shepherds not self-esteem masseuse or motivational coaches.
This is the first installment in a five-part series entitled “Pastor You Must Be A Theologian.” Stay tuned for more.