Increasingly I am much encouraged by some of the conversations that I am having with various Pentecostal pastors around the nation. It is becoming more and more common that I am finding men who are paying the price with discipline and diligence to really dig into the Word so that their preaching has taken a different direction. This direction change is coming because of the challenges that we are facing in our culture and the deep moral depravity that is assaulting the church. We also have to contend more and more with the onward advancement of various world religions that are making inroads to the United States. Our preaching has to change to meet those challenges for we can no longer afford to simply preach to the moment so that people get out of their seats and flutter about for a little while to satisfy some shallow emotional need they need to feel better about.
I have been revisiting some of my journal scribblings from the last four years or so and have found a variety of thoughts I had written down. Some of those scribblings had to do with little mental or spiritual stimulations that I thought I would put on this blog. This post comes about from three different entries that I have merged together. The first one was from Eugene Peterson’s very fine memoir, The Pastor and the other two were blog entries that Thom Rainer had written which dealt with pastoral ministry. Peterson’s angle was that pastors have fallen into the trap of being turned into church growth gurus and it has cost them the priority of their own spiritual life of prayer, personal Bible reading/study (you would be shocked how many pastors don’t read the Bible on a regular basis), and the practice of spiritual disciplines which include the previous two and a host of others. His fear was that pastors are being turned into executive automatons who can drive cattle about on a range but have lost the art of leading sheep through still pastures. Rainer wrote about the dilemmas pastors face in the church which contribute to great dilemmas in the soul of the pastor. The best way to describe it would be to say that the little foxes have gained an entrance and they are spoiling a harvest.
Several weeks ago I had a very thought provoking discussion with my brother about Pentecostal preaching. In 1992 my parents gave Mark a new Thompson Chain reference Bible for Christmas. It wasn’t too long after that he began to use this Bible as his primary Bible as his everyday carry. He used it for devotional matters, he used it at Texas Bible College in the classroom, and he also used it to preach. One of the other things he did with this Bible was underline every sermon he heard during a twenty-year period. After retiring this Bible in 2012, he discovered something very interesting about this Bible. He went back and looked at all of the Scriptures that he had underlined when he was listening to preachers. He noted that during that twenty-year time period that he had heard approximately 3,500 messages. This came from a variety of places. Obviously the bulk of these came from the local churches where he had attended during that twenty-year time period. There were other unique places where he had listened to preaching. He had been in multiple chapel services at TBC, he had gone to several of the larger Pentecostal churches in the Houston area, and he had been to various conferences although he had not attended as many as I have through the years.