The Bipolar Nature of the Pulpit Ministry

Upon finishing my Sunday morning exposition of 1 Corinthians 15:23-28 I received two very different responses from persons within the congregation.  You brother-pastors know all about this experience.  One elderly man lectured me on how I really need to calm down when preaching in the pulpit.  My passion for the truth apparently distracts and even upsets this longtime member.  He said he wished his high school speech teacher were still alive so she could instruct me on how to give a more effective presentation.  He also told me that if I continue to preach as long as I have the past two Sundays that I’ll lose all of our members.

The second person I chatted with after the service had a different perspective on the sermon.  The brother followed up this brief Sunday conversation with a gracious email on Monday which you can read below.

Pastor:

I thank God for answered prayer. I have been seeking to see God’s hand move in a way only God could do in my life. I recognize this can be a “dangerous” prayer, but my desire is not just the normal, ordinary or mundane life. I seek not to be special, just to be part of something special.

The distractions of business and the world seems to rob one of the joy of life in Christ. I am seeking a re-focus so Christ remains the focus. The message from 1 Corinthians 15 this Sunday was just that.  I found myself being drawn into the message. It started out as a great information source with answers to questions I have been working with, but then a strange phenomenon began. Amidst the flood of information and knowledge most usable for everyday life, Christ as God became real. I wanted to “Amen”, but the voice wouldn’t respond. (I was ashamed that there wasn’t more response to the truth spoken, but I have to assume that others were sensing a similar condition.)

Then the final song came to mind, “Hallelujah, What A Savior!” I went into a near panic mode. How could such a song be sung from one so unworthy? I put the thoughts out of my mind and refocused on the message. I found myself trembling the more I listened. You continued to speak of the 3 distinct offices of the Trinity, yet equal as God. You spoke of all the enemies being conquered and Christ submitting Himself to the Father that God may be all in all. The scene was over-powering! I could hardly concentrate on the words.

I sensed, like Moses for a moment in time, I was given a glimpse of our great Savior and God. I don’t have a shine about my countenance like Moses, but seemed to sense the true Almighty God. Any more than that and the human mind, body and spirit could not handle it.  I do not believe in out-of-the-body experiences that one hears about in magazines and other articles, but I do think that God presents Himself in unique ways to people at different times. This may have been one of those times. The fact you waived the singing of the last song may have been God’s protection and mercy upon myself at that moment. I truly did not know what or how I was going to respond once on the platform.  I do not want to dwell on the experience of the day, but would rather consider the gracious work of God’s Spirit as He saw fit.  Thank you for preaching the Truth as the Spirit of God gives leading.

To the praise of His glory,

XXX

In some regards we pastors preach each and every sermon before an audience of One.  As Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1f,  I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:  preach the word;  If the Judge isn’t pleased with my exposition it would not matter if the entire flock gave me a standing ovation after each and every sermon.  If the Judge is pleased with our humble efforts (2 Tim 2:15) then it should not matter if the entire church wants to throw us out after our exposition of Scripture.  If the goal of our preaching is Romans 11:36 & Ephesians 4:11-15 then we do not need to be bipolar pastors even if we minister in bipolar congregations.

2 Timothy 4:2, Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Rejoicing with you, Caleb. What a joy to show people the most glorious Person in the universe, to bring them to feast on what their soul was created for!

    As an aspiring pastor and fellow-TMS student, I gotta know: how’d you respond to the elderly man?

  2. Mike,

    It was right after the sermon so I was still coming back down to planet earth. :) Since i know this person I was not completely shocked by some of the things he shared. I simply listened and (in this case) acknowledged the common ground we had on one point he made. I believe what one should say is almost always a case by case deal. Sometimes I go back and forth with members and other times i just let them share and move on to the next conversation. I’ve only been in FT ministry for 6 years so I’m still developing thick skin and of course trying to grow in humility.

    1 Cor 15:20-28 is one of those great Texts in Scripture. If your faithful to the Word God takes care of the rest.

  3. Hi,

    First of all, I want to say I really like your blog. I always check you site for new posts. It is just nice to read/know raw insights of someone who preaches, someone in evangelical context.

    Godbless you.

  4. Thanks very much Michael. May God use you in the many ministry/life contexts He places you in.

    For the Master

    The men at E.T.

  5. Your elderly member reminds me of a man in a small church where I was interiming a few years ago. He had voice box due to cancer of the larynx, and when the clock struck twelve, he cleared his throat (the whole congregation could here it)to let me know it was time to finish. I just looked at him and then continued until I finished my sermon.

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