Using false anecdotes to bring home a point

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Legalism and guilt, both wrong…for different reasons

This discussion is not to be critical. Just a little feedback to the guys prepping their hearts out for weeks. All in an effort to selflessly deliver a message in hopes of helping people improve their relationship with Christ. For a pastor, it’s tough to find a way to connect with everyone in the seats, believers and nonbelievers alike. I’ve also heard a few compelling takes on who exactly pastors should be speaking to on Sunday mornings, but this piece of feedback applies to most any audience.

Pastors continue to use false anecdotes in order bring home a point steering us away from a legalistic mentality. Naturally, this is in defense of “faith alone” and it is done by using a conversation people apparently have with themselves. The pastor will round out their point with conjecture of people debating whether or not their actions dictate their place in heaven. Something like, “I’m a good person. If I do enough good things I will make it to heaven. Right?” The trouble is, outside of a couple LDS guys stumbling into the wrong building, no one really has this conversation or thought.

If the person is struggling with being “good enough,” there are dozens of more ways to hone in on the importance of faith without making a false generality and then bringing it home with some blatant scripture to debunk the myth. I love Ephesians 2:8,1)Ephesians 2:8 (ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God but I’ve honestly never had a conversation with someone that led me to believe they were struggling with the idea they’d find their way to eternal life by being a “good guy.” This is not to say these thoughts don’t exist. Rather, to point out some characteristics of the congregation on Sunday morning.

If the person listening is a believer, the gospel did all the work needed on this matter.

If the person is a nonbeliever, being in church wasn’t a stop on their journey to figuring out how to be a good person. That’s what Tony Robbins conferences and Joel Osteen podcasts are for.

I would offer the feeling pastors are trying to reconcile is one of guilt. ‘Cause, sure, who doesn’t struggle with the repercussions on their actions? Even in light of the cross, Christians have a hard time with this, but it doesn’t spark a war of emotions concerned with whether or not we’re good enough. We know we’re not! Guilt is a troubling and sinful emotion, but it isn’t the same as sentencing ourselves to either eternal damnation or rendering our own “Not Guilty” verdict just because we helped our neighbor move, despite hating every minute of it.

Pastors, give a little more credit to the person that invited the new family to church. You are trying to make a point using a tactic with little impact and missing an opportunity to help people connect the dots of the sermon. Skip the personal anecdotes that don’t actually exist.


Message from John Piper - Jesus Is Precious Because He Removes Our Guilt

Message from John Piper – Jesus Is Precious Because He Removes Our Guilt

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Ephesians 2:8 (ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God

About Brent Nichols

My blogging is, no doubt, all over the map, but hope you'll find something just right for you. Currently living in the D.C.-metro area in Northern Virginia. You know what? I think I kinda like it out here.

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