PULPIT Ministry Gone Wrong

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Abraham InetianborThe Lord's Church is no man's playground. Studying God's word with our fellow Christians is becoming more of a popularity contest or a power struggle these days. This should not be the case. What happened to a workman that needs not to be ashamed but rightly dividing the word of truth? The only way we can be ashamed of not knowing something is when we let pride get in the way. Most, not all pulpit ministers are becoming televangelists these days and their messages and delivery method, more often than not sounds tailored for a different audience than the intended ones. This sometimes takes the authenticity out of it all. Some ministers or preachers are even starting to sound more like a broken record because they are limited to what truth they can preach to the camera.

Professors and Scholars may have no intentions of misleading anyone but this doesn't mean they are not humans or that they are immune to mistakes just like we all are. This is why the Church that Christ died for is different and should have many voices that speak from the same bible in unity. Not one "pope-like" voice were questions and healthy debates are becoming a thing of the past. The truth is open for all to see and speak, not for one individual to dictate while others listen. We need variety of teachers and speakers. I've seen spiritually sound congregations where the ministers only preach 25-30 out of 52 sermons in a year and more than half the men in those kind of congregations knew exactly what to do when called upon. And these men are not even office holders but they knew what it meant to be one body. This in turn helps the office holders like the main Evangelist(s) to stay longer at one congregation without becoming "boring" to people.

The pharisees were highly educated but the apostles were referred to as uneducated or unlearned (Acts 4:13), yet they were the ones that Jesus chose to take His message to the world. "Bible degrees" from preaching schools are great but I often refer to it as a piece of paper and I mean no disrespect because I have one too. I call it a piece of paper because it doesn't make anyone holier nor is it a guaranteed ticket of bible understanding. It may give additional bible knowledge but knowledge is not understanding. Please, don't get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against ministerial diplomas or preaching schools in general. I just believe if we are not careful, we'll rely on our fellow human beings (including me) so much that they'll almost replace our bible or become like our apostles.

If variety is the spice of life, there is little to no spice left in these local churches because people have been unintentionally programmed to just go with the flow. There's been times when I foolishly went with the flow just by being quiet. Then I always and often have to remind myself that being quiet is just as bad as participating in something that you know is not right. James said if you know what is good and refuse to do it, it automatically becomes a sin. Churches are creating rules out of thin air and ministers of the gospel are playing along from the pulpit. Some ministers forget they can still do their job of ministry and be rewarded equally without being a frequent fixture on the "stage" that we have made into a home for them.

Abraham Inetianbor
Variety on the pulpit does not mean giving a different message because there is only one bible. Variety on the pulpit is preaching the same bible with different but truthful viewpoints for a better well rounded understanding that is beneficial to all. This is because different speakers have different ways of reaching people with the same message. So if you have the same speaker practically on the stage all the time, you are bound to loose the effectiveness of the message to the listeners. Also, how the message is delivered needs variety from time to time because this helps people not to be bored to death. This is key to active participation and growth in a church. If people already know what to expect, it is hard for them to focus. Lack of variety also encourage listeners to easily dismiss what could otherwise be considered a solid and truthful message.
Here's a silly example of variety in teaching but you should get the point:
  • Student - "This table top looks so smooth. Can I use it as a coffee table?"
  • Teacher #1 - "Yes, the table top is made of wood so it's fine."
  • Teacher #2 - "Correct. The smoothness you feel is from the polish."
  • Teacher #3 - "Both are correct. That wood is from an oak tree so it should last longer and the glossy polish also makes it waterproof."
Can one person get all these point across? Yes, it is possible but one person can never be smarter than the bible. None of these teachers listed above said anything wrong. They all answered the question from a variety of angles to form a complete picture. The understanding of the student became well rounded based on the ability of three teachers. They were able to bring his basic knowledge of just a top that looks "smooth" into a better understanding of what it is and why it's smooth. When I personally teach a bible class, I often call it a group discussion so I make sure to limit my lesson to 15-20 mins depending on the scheduled time. If scheduled time is 45 mins, I prepare a talk time of about 15 mins and for an hour class, I prepare for about 20 mins. 

This is mostly because I see myself more like a moderator when teaching in God's house than a "teacher" in charge. I believe the old, young, or "least educated" among us should always have a biblical voice that we all can learn from. It's also a great way to hear from those who may have a view that contradicts the scriptures, which creates an opportunity for biblical correction and learning. So when people don't want to ask questions or make comments, I find a way to make it happen because this is what bible class is meant for. I'm not saying I have the best plan or answer to how a bible class should be conducted but I can tell you it makes absolutely no sense to have one voice trying to rush through a million scriptures while consuming the entire time and having little to nothing accomplished in the process.

Abraham InetianborCreating a growth environment for everyday Christians who are not "office holders" in the Church will give more Christians a reason to not just read but study. This lack of inclusion is one of the reasons most of us don't see the need to open our bibles outside of the church buildings to study or prepare a lesson. Reading the bible is not the same as studying. Unfortunately, most congregations unconsciously only respect the words of those with a "bible degree" and those with a higher social standing in our society. We subconsciously ignore those with no "certificate" hanging on their walls because we believe that there should be required "human qualifications" to become a relevant voice in the Lord's house. Pulpit ministry and Preaching schools are great tools to assist in learning like I said earlier but why are we unconsciously replacing the inspired bible with commentaries, dictionaries and/or people?

One of the reasons we have little to no teachers or willing teachers in these local Churches these days is mainly because we have unintentionally created an environment where people are compelled to follow a required curriculum instead of making the bible our main focus. We prioritize and act like people with BA, BSc., MA and PHD are immune to mistakes or mishaps when they speak God's word. This has caused some teachers to sometimes feel like they are not good enough because they don't have a comparable piece of paper - aka "degree" that qualifies them to teach or preach. Our actions over the past two or three decades pushed people (especially willing teachers) so far away that we now expect them to make a quick U-turn without taking any responsibility for our own actions. Not to mention, most of these capable teachers have found a way to occupy themselves with other obligations or moved on to something else. Some have even left the Lord's Church and getting them back to the Church is becoming almost an impossible task.

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