Sunday, August 12, 2012

Can I get an Amen?

I've been looking at the Scriptures lately to see if I can find any justification for the use of the subject of this post. Or the use of any kind of feedback-eliciting question or statement.  

I can't find any.

It really annoys me to hear so many preachers get up front and talk about something they've been working on all week, and not get the enthusiastic response they expected from their parishoners, so instead of understanding that some people might not be ready, or that maybe the message that God told them to preach was for their OWN benefit, what they do is ask people if they're asleep, or tell them how they SHOULD be responding.  

Hm.  Point of order here.  

Who CARES how they respond?  Did Jesus try to stir up a crowd by telling them how to respond to His messages?  Uhhh, NO. Matter of fact, people walked away from His messages.  They responded the opposite of the way they SHOULD have. And it had nothing to do with His eloquence or worthiness.  It was the choice of the person listening, what to do with what He said. 

One guy even fell asleep during one of Paul's sermons.  Fell out of a barn loft and got himself killed too.  Paul just went down, raised him from the dead in Jesus' name, and went back to teaching. 

"Can I get an Amen?" means - at its core - that the speaker is insecure about his/her ability to communicate - or angry and frustrated that people aren't on the same page as he or she is.  Or afraid that people will reject him/her. But what the listeners hear is: "You guys are STUPID if you don't get this..." (or not good Christians, or even backslidden...) 

Here's what silence from the pew usually means, instead of what the speaker FEARS it means:

(1) Yes, I know that. Now tell me something I DON'T know.
(2) I'm not ready to hear that yet.  I'm not even sure if I agree with it. Maybe I need to go home and study more on it.
(3) I wish that guy would stop repeating himself and get ON with it. I'm not stupid.  (Or stop shouting: I'm not deaf.)
(4) I'm just not the jump-around immediate-response kind of person.  I get the message, I just need to think more about it.

It could even mean this:
(5) Wow.  I never thought about it (could be something the speaker said ten minutes ago) that way.  God is really speaking to me and I can't be bothered with what the person up front is saying right now. 

HERE's where I got this photo
There could be any NUMBER of reasons why a parishoner doesn't produce the expected response to a message.  We're not marionettes.  We're people.  

So to those folks who have a burning message on their hearts to share

Say what God laid on your heart to say and ONLY what He has laid on your heart to say.  Resist the temptation to talk about your pet theme. 

Say it ONCE (we don't need to hear it five times in five different ways, or in increasing volume as if we're hard of hearing).  And then ... sit down.  You don't have to fill your half-hour slot (or 22 minutes, as I heard one pastor say).  If it takes ten minutes, it takes ten minutes.  Maybe that would leave God more time to work AFTERward, without laying on people the added distraction of wondering if they will have enough time in their schedules for time at the altar before their child (or spouse) will need to be fed. 

You are ministering TO GOD.  If the people within earshot "get it" - so much the better.  But your audience is an audience of One - always was, always will be. 

You don't need to be successful and to have people hang on your every word.  You only need to be faithful.  Just listen to Him, not to your own insecurities.

And finally, you don't have to be the Holy Spirit.  That's HIS job.  Not yours.  He doesn't need your help.  He will do what only HE CAN do ... because only HE can see the heart.

Let Him do His work unhindered. Please.

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