Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dangers of Hybels' Philosophy of Preaching

This is a follow-up to my previous post on Hybel's Leaves Congregation Hungry for Truth. The more I think about his philosophy of ministry and in particular his philosophy of preaching, the more frightening it is.

Here are some of the dangers that qucikly come to mind in thinking about this attitude towards preaching:

1. Offensive to God

Whenever unbelievers are the most satsified people in your church, then you can be sure that God is the most dissatisfied one in your church. James 4:4 says - Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

How can God be pleased and worshipped when unbelievers are at total ease with what is going on? Worship is about exalting God and attributing His worth to Him as the Sovereign, Holy One of the universe. How can an unbeliever who is completely unrighteousness be at ease in such an environment? It should cause them to feel uncomfortable, knowing they are there as ones "standing on the outside looking in." They should feel as though they are total misfits, not the happiest people in the building!

2. Neglect of the Glory of God

To create an environment where unbelievers are at ease and satisfied has to be one that neglects the glory of God. How can God be glorified when sinners are comfortably sitting there on their way to hell? Unbelievers should feel the sting of their sin when hearing the Word of God preached and expounded with conviction. What happened when Peter and Stephen preached Jesus? The people were cut to the heart and some were even outraged by the offensive message of the cross (Acts 2:37; 7:54).

For unbelievers to sit in satisfaction means that much of the glory of God must be left out of the service. I have never been to one of these Willow Creek services, but it causes me to wonder how many times people are called to repent of their sins and live a life of holy obedience. How many sermons have they heard on the depravity of man and the holiness of God?

3. Hinders the Growth of True Believers

This is obvious. When Hybels' own survey shows that the believers in the church who seek to walk with God desire more deep truths, it shows they are a hungry people and that their spiritual growth is not being aided by a healthy dose of the Word each Sunday.

4. Leaves Unbelievers Comfortably on the Broad Road

I don't want to repeat what I've already said, but to leave unbelievers satisfied in the Sunday worship service on a weekly basis leaves them comfortably on the broad road that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). Any preacher who is satisfied with this is not a preacher, but an entertainer and will one day have to stand before God with their blood on his hands!

5. Teaches People a Low View of God and His Word

To stand up and "preach" on a weekly basis where unbelievers enjoy the message more than true believers teaches people that God's Word isn't all that important. It is obvious that these "sermons" cannot contain much Scripture, but rather a lot of stories, jokes, and something to "pump people up" for the week. A person coming away from such a service surely doesn't leave with a greater reverence for God and His Word.

I don't know about you, but I want to be convicted when I hear a sermon. I want the Word of God to strike at my heart and show me my sin. I want to know the great truths of God's grace. I want to know my Lord in a deeper and richer way from my hearing of the preaching of His Word.

To not feed the flock each week is for the shepherd to leave his sheep malnurished and teaches them that they don't really need the Word of God to live a healthy Christian life. It says to them that the Word of God really isn't that important. And it teaches the believers that it is more important for unbelievers to feel accepted than for them to know God and His truth in a richer way.

6. Teaches People that the Gospel is Not all that Powerful

If Hybels' truly believed in the power of the gospel to save people he would preach it. Unbelievers would be miserable and flee the services. An unbeliever would not be able to come week after week with such glee. And for a preacher to do this teaches his people that the gospel is not really that powerful. It teaches them that we need to do more. We need to make sinners feell good first. Jesus never sought to do such a thing. He said that sinners are to forsake all and instantly follow Him.

7. Teaches the Believers that How Unbelievers Feel is More Important than Where they Stand Before God

When the church sees its pastor cuddle up to non-believers without telling them what they are...sinners, and that the pastor doesn't call on them to repent and turn from their wicked way, then they are being taught it is more important to make people feel good than to rescue their souls from hell. God calls us to preach the gospel in season and out of season and says that today is the day of salvation!

May God bring such "preachers" to repent and preach the Word! Avoid the ear tickling and give the people the pure, sufficient, Word that is the only thing that can quench the thirst and hunger of these staggering sheep who are coming each week for nourishment!