Here’s a quick note while I take a break from finishing the sermon for this week. I have some statistics that undermine the church-growth movement’s proclivity for “practical” sermon series.
The re-making of the Christian church by those interested in relevance, modernization and a kinder, gentler spirit moves them to forego the prescribed readings for the liturgical church year and replace them with thematic series on topics like “Christian Financial Management,” “Practical Christianity,” “The Purpose-Driven Life,” and others. The problem with these sermon series is that they cloud the fact that the Bible is not about any of those things. The Bible is God’s revelation of his word of law and his word of gospel in the person and work of Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, the Bible says precious little about any of those subjects, not to mention the fact that it says absolutely nothing about Rick Warren’s claim to fame – the purpose driven life. (Purpose is actually a pagan theme of existentialism and/or pragmatism – but that topic will have to wait for another time.)
One of the favorite sermon series themes is parenting or fatherhood. Since we are celebrating the slaughter of the innocents this weekend along with Joseph’s leading his family to safety in Egypt, I thought it would be a good time to talk about male headship in the family and the church. It amazes me that church-growth pastors are able to get 10 weeks on such a subject when one considers the Biblical data. Here are a few statistics. (You can have this same fun by going to the ESV website’s search tool. Just type in a word and have at it.)
- There are 64 references to “father” in Paul’s letters and only two of them are about how to be a good father. The rest are about God as our father or uses of the word as a common noun in a narrative.
- There is not a single reference to being a good father in the entire book of Proverbs.
- The general epistles have 34 uses of the term “father” and not a single one is about being a good father.
- There 126 references to “husband” in the New Testament and about five of them are about being a good husband.
- There are far more references to the “fatherless” than references about being a good father. Why? Because that is what the Bible is about – God being a father to the children of the world who in sin are removed from Him, their true Father in heaven and are in need of salvation.
Based on this, one can see that those who preach “practical” sermon series are abusing the text of Holy Scripture. It just was not made for such preaching. The people love it. They eat it up. But it is not what God intended his word to accomplish.
I will use the occasion of this sermon to do some instructing on being a good father and husband but for the primary focus of the sermon I will follow the lead of Paul, Luther and Walther and convict us of our sins and preach faith into our hearts with the sweet Gospel of forgiveness.