Tired Sermons

I’m no movie critic. But I am a pastor. That means I still get to comment on movies. Even though I took a class in college called “Introduction to American Film,” my opinions on plot, character development, cinematography, and the like are, well…no better than just opinion. The pastor in me, however, gets to make comments about such things as the film’s worldview, use of vulgarity, and whether the storyline involves too many scantily clad in the bedroom—stuff like that. I’d like to think I have something of value to say about those kinds of things. The pastor in me also gets to comment when the film says it’s based upon the Bible. The recently released film Left Behind can be filed in the same round file as the Noah movie that came out earlier this year. “Based upon Scripture” doesn’t always mean that it is.

I’m not a reviewer of books, either. I’m just a pastor again. But the same principle concerning movies also concerns books. I feel I have license to comment when the book targets Christians and churches. There’s so much “follow-the-leader” copycatting when it comes to new ideas for the church. The latest push comes from pastors Kerry and Chris Shook’s book “Be the Message” published by WaterBrook Multnomah with Rick Warren contributing the Foreword. The promotional email that made it into my inbox got my attention with the lead, “A New Book from a Pastor who is Tired of Sermons.” It’s the next book in a long line of books hoping to make the church more relevant. The book is subtitled, Taking Your Faith Beyond Words to a Life of Action.

I could have predicted the next paragraph:

Because of your powerful impact in building the body of Christ, you are invited to join the Shooks and Woodlands Church in a nationwide event on November 16th for National Be the Message Sunday. On November 16th, churches across the United States will be cutting their normal worship time in half so that they can mobilize their congregation to take action—gathering food for a local food bank, collecting coats or shoes, cleaning a local park to make a significant difference within their community.

The next line was the kicker: “The gospel is not about what you say. It’s about who you are and what you do and how you can be God’s hands and feet in the world.”

Actually, the gospel has nothing to do with you, me, or our hands and feet; nor does it have anything to do with cleaning toilets at the local park or collecting canned goods for the food bank. These are nice things to do (on Saturday!). It would be a feel-good event for us and benefit some folks in the community so let’s mobilize the troop sometime—fine.

But contrary to this latest book and craze, the gospel does involve words; words that tell what Jesus accomplished: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). And three verses prior there is this: “But how are they to call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14).

Maybe the pastors at Woodlands Church in Texas are tired of sermons because their sermons are tired. But even a tired sermon can convert a lost soul; something collecting coats and shoes never will be able to do.

Pastor Rich Hamlin

October 16, 2014


  1. Thank you for posting.

    The siren song again and again is for us to do something. Deeds not creeds. Be the gospel. Live the gospel.

    But if it’s news, it needs to be told, shared, spoken, preached. Thank you for sharing your continued commitment to preach the truth — the good news — from God’s Word.

  2. Word!
    John 1:1
    In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God, and the WORD was God.

    Genesis ch. 1
    With WORDS He SPOKE everything into existence…
    Good Word Pastor!

  3. People that wish to act in virtuous ways might consider who it is that defines their ideas of “virtue”. If our virtuous acts are not done for the glory of Our Great God, they are but wood, hay, and stubble.
    Our society’s definition of “virtue” has to do with our temporal acts of mercy, which are indeed acts to which we are called. But its worthy of note when a church service is modified to make way for our virtuous acts. This sounds as if it is a somewhat sterile exchange in an area which does not seem to be “either/ or”…
    One has to wonder about the disconnect between those who would rather volunteer than hear about the True Source of mercy.
    As to the being the hands and feet of Jesus, it is written, Blessed are the feet of those who proclaim the glad, good news, most likely omitted from the truncated church services on these days of “being the message”. What message?

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