Pleasing Pulpiteers

A. Hugh Clark
Lubbock, Texas

There has been a growing tendency among the churches in the last two or three decades to lose sight of the fundamental importance of teaching, and to emphasize more and more the social characteristics of "Friendliness," "hospitality," "good fellowship," etc. And such has been made a pretty general appeal for the attention and accession of the public.

Stemming from this point of view have come a whole flock of troubles within the church, chief of which perhaps has been the clamor of the churches for that type of individual in their pulpits who would best fit into their scheme of things; who would have made a better Good Will Ambassador, President of a Chamber of Commerce, or greeter in some Social Club or Night Spot, except perhaps for the fact that he didn't have enough above the collar bone to qualify in such a competitive field, and so he made a preacher! And now he is described by certain women in the congregation by such phrases as, "Our preachuh is jus' the sweetes' man," "He's jus' the most social-minded person you evah saw . . . ev'ry body 'us' loves, him to death." "You know he's jus' always on-the-go; why I bet not even the meta reada makes more calls than he does! And in the purpit he jus' nevah hurts anybody's feeelings!" And the reason the preacher himself specializes in these things is because he knows that brethren who hired him expect it of him, and that if he is to hold his job, he would better comply. And so, like the gadget seller from the department store, he leaves his books and his Bible behind and takes to the town, street by street, knocking on doors as he comes to them, seeeking recruits for the yearbook, having forgotten that Paul said, "Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? or am I striving to please men? if I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ" (Gal. 1:10).

People who "join the church" under the operation of this sort of fellow do not become Christians, they only "join the church," and so far as their salvation is concerned, they might as well have joined the Kiwanis Club. The Lord, Himself, said TEACHING precedes discipleship and is the means by which such an end is accomplished. Leave off the teaching and substitute admiration for the preacher, the congeniality of the congregation, the inoffensiveness of the pulpit, etc., and you do not make disciples of Christ, but just plain, ordinary sectarians, with no convictions, and who continue to live about as they have in the past.

The only hope of the world in general and the churchces in particular is faithful gospel preaching and teaching. Elders and churches, therefore, ought to desire and require of their preachers that their chief qualification be the ability to preach and teach the gospel effectively. And then, realizing that such requires much application and that application requires time, try not to load them down with such trifling, time-stealing, and fruitless tasks as gadding for gadding's sake.

Truth Magazine IV:4, p. 1
January 1960