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A View from the Altar / When people mute the preacher
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When people mute the preacher

Dull preaching

The Bible says a pastor must be “apt to teach.”  That means the pastor should have some degree of talent for study and explanation.  The purpose behind the requirement is make sure the ministry of the word doesn’t get dumbed down or become so dull that nobody can sit through it.  The usual TeeVee stereotype of church is a bunch of people yawning through a tedious lecture on who begat whom.  There’s more than a little truth in the stereotype.

Why people hit the mute button

To speak a word in defense of my preacher brethren, sometimes people tune out the preacher because they have attention spans measured in seconds.  There are, in fact, idiots.  And some of them go to church.  And they manifest their idiocy by projecting it on the preacher.  I don’t know what could help these poor souls.  Other times people pay no attention because they are heathen and have no respect for holy things.  Sometimes a person is distracted by a pressing life issue like a pending divorce, comes to church hoping for a revelation about it, but the preacher was on a different subject that day.

Sometimes they mute the preacher and it’s his fault

People mentally mute the preacher when he’s serving up mouldered hash extracted from his leftover seminary files.  No need to tell people if you weren’t prepared, brother.  It’s obvious.

Sometimes the problem is that the preacher got stuck on alliterating all the points in his sermon and let the logic go haywire while trying to make the letters fit.  Instead of letting the Bible speak through him, the preacher produces piffle, preferring  pronunciations to principles and prompting parishioners to prance.  Actually, “prance” looks stupid here and doesn’t make sense, but the MS-Word thesaurus has no single word for “ignore you” that begins with a ‘p’ so I had to use “prance.”  Get the picture now?  Sainted brethren, I beseech you to devoutly lose the alliteration.

Sometimes preachers are dull because they don’t know what they’re talking about and haven’t bothered to study.  Sometimes they are dull because they have no sense of organization and just prattle at random till their time’s up.  Sometimes a preacher is dull because he has led a dull life and has no interesting stories to illustrate his point. 

And then sometimes the preacher has too much of himself in the sermon.  If he’s a macho guy and all his references are to his life of head-cracking combat in the octagon, the ladies are likely to tune out.  Conversely, if he’s a flowery little sissy dressed in cufflinks and all full of poetry and lace, the men will find it impossible not to be scornful.  The lesson here is that Christ must increase and we must decrease.  In the end, if they go home with a hunk of truth but don’t even remember the preacher’s name, chances are the preacher did a really fine job, and that’s no lie.

Terminal diseases

Sometimes a preacher is dull because he has no talent for communication.  Sometimes it’s because he is no longer interested in his subject.  In cases like these, the best remedy is a career change.

otherbrothersteve@gmail.com

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