When I did this at one church, a staff member whom I’d asked for feedback between services told me to cut down on the Scripture quotations. “You’ll lose people,” he said.

PreacherMark Galli of Christianity Today magazine, in “Yawning at the Word,” recently reflected on why people in churches today tune the Word of God out in sermons, Sunday schools and Bible studies. He says that this is not just his own observation, but a present reality. In our narcissistic culture, the listening audience has lost their interest in everything that is not “relevant” to their lives, or stories that are not contemporary, funny or spectacular.

In my daughter’s high school chapels, the Bible is seldom read, and instead, most of the time is spent on singing, stories and funny videos. “Spiritual enrichment” is all about fun and games. I went to a home Bible study once where the leader was instructed to stay exclusively on the text at hand and not look at other pertinent Biblical texts.

I have heard many preachers read a verse or two for the sermon text, and move on to other things, never again going back to the text, and I often wonder how the text was related to the sermon. And why be appalled at the Biblical illiteracy of so many when churches spend so much time singing and dancing and laughing?

What is it that makes church people today stay glued to American Idol, Winter Olympics, Avatar, Guitar Hero, and Joel Osteen for hours, but doze off at the 5th minute of a sermon? Granted, some preachers deserve a 5-minute attention span, but I doubt that this culture will pay more attention even to George Whitefield or Charles Spurgeon.

What would itching ears prefer to hear: sound interpretation of Biblical texts, or spectacular speculations and flattery? See them yawn and fidget when you start expounding how Daniel 9:24 is fulfilled in the sacrificial death of Christ using Hebrews 1:1-2, 1 Timothy 3:16, and Hebrews 9:11–14, 23–24. But see their eyes widen and their heads nodding and listen to shouts of “Praise the Lord!” when you prophesy that God will make the Philippines his blessed nation in 2010 because it is the 490th year since its founding by Ferdinand Magellan.

It seems that evangelicals with normal attention spans only come down with ADHD as soon as they hear the Word of God read or preached. The Holy Scripture is our witness that true love for God is always accompanied by love and hunger for his Word. Is there true love for God then when so many who say, “The Bible is my only creed,” turn out to be devoid of very basic Biblical and doctrinal knowledge?

Let’s hear it from the Word:

Psalm 1:2: but his [the blessed man] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 19:8, 10: The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart… More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

Psalm 112:1: Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments!

Psalm 119:47: For I find my delight in your commandments, which I love.

Matthew 4:4: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

John 8:31: So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.”

Colossians 3:16: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.

1 Thessalonians 2:13: When you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God.

If you truly love God, you will delight in his Word, not be bored.

Bored with the Word
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15 thoughts on “Bored with the Word

  • February 27, 2010 at 5:29 pm
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    I remember reading “Amusing Ourselves To Death” by Neil Postman in my preaching class how he said, “Our politics, religion, news, athletics, education and commerce have been transformed into congenial adjuncts of show business, largely without protest or even much popular notice. The result is that we are a people on the verge of amusing ourselves to death” (pp. 3-4). His cultural analysis sheds light to the problem faced by the church who wants to remain faithful to God and the preaching of His Word but its members would rather be entertained by the theatrics of the preacher and the power of the music than sanctified by the Spirit and the Word.

    • February 27, 2010 at 7:15 pm
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      “I argue that the chief cause of today’s mindlessness is television, as I discussed earlier. Because it is so pervasive… it is programming us to think that the chief end of man is to be entertained. How can people whose minds are filled with the brainless babble of the evening sitcoms have anything but trivial thoughts when they come to God’s house on Sundays morning if, in fact, they have thoughts of God at all? How can they appreciate his holiness if their heads are full of the moral muck of the afternoon talk shows? All they can look for in church, if they look for anything, is something to make them feel good for a short while before they go back to the television culture.” — James Montgomery in “Whatever Happened to God?” (1996)

      This is exactly the situation in the Philippines, and worse.

  • February 27, 2010 at 1:27 am
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    I’ll be honest and not going to lie, I am guilty of this myself.  I believe it is very important for us to realize the importance and significance of going to church, church membership, and preparing ourselves, hearts, minds, and attitudes towards worship on Sundays.  If we can all be thoroughly engaged in watching a movie for 3 hours, watching a basketball game, or watching Manny Pacquaio fight, all the more we should be attentive listeners and very engaged when we hear the word of God preached on Sunday. 

    • February 27, 2010 at 8:10 am
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      Yes, especially when I watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy. How many hours was that, yet I’m sure I’ll still be really focused on it even though I’ve already seen it more than once.

  • February 26, 2010 at 3:55 pm
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    We can learn from some evangelicals in their use of technology and modern comforts-They in fact should be grateful for these things (Starbucks and all) –

    Reformed churches are usually poor-and I think it is indictment on our ‘giving’-Are we all just talk and yet our hearts are far from loving the brethren? Surely with pastors who can really preach the Word-shouldn’t we be more generous in our giving?

    I also value their use of music-except for the howlers-that disturbs the congregation in their singing . Some new praise and worship  songs have depth and breadth -but others tend to be repetitive and overly emotional without much biblical content or message.

    Our Evangelical brethren does not know that they are eating food without much nutritional value-and that their spirits are emaciated. When will they realize? How can we help them ?

    • February 26, 2010 at 4:46 pm
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      My reply to your comments above can be found here:

      “On the Necessity of Reforming the Church, Today!”
      https://www.twoagespilgrims.com/doctrine/?p=4

      This is the first part of a series on Reformed worship, which I’m still in the process of writing.

  • February 26, 2010 at 2:36 pm
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    Here’s the clip from the FB discussion:

    FB discussion

  • February 26, 2010 at 11:49 am
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    A pastor becomes a CEO because he wants to be. To them a teacher seems to be so denigrating. You just have to pass some data to someone -which is already written. Where is the brillaincy in that? So repetitious. 

    We do believe in perspicuity of the written Word of God-and the priesthood of all believers-and we encourage them all to study-but the problem is that they thought they can know the Lord without the mediation of the Word i.e. they don’t need to read and study it.

    Some pastors wants dependency-syndrome. They want their members to be spoon-fed by them-everytime.They encourage perpetual spiritual childhood.

    Maturity is a goal-whether it is lifestyle or knowledge, for all of us.  Blessed is a church that have pastors that does not renege in their duties of teaching the Word. Blessed are the pastors that the Lord still talks when they study the Word.

    Cursed are those who pretends that they speak for the Him and yet does not study-nor pray when they are preparing their messages. From where does their message comes from?

  • February 25, 2010 at 6:40 pm
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    Another cause of this low view of preaching is the concomitant low view of the office of pastor/teacher. There’s this perversion of the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture which posits that every Christian has the ability to understand and comprehened Scripture fully, comprehensively, and truly, which diminshes the office of pastor/teacher to the mere status of a token.

    • February 25, 2010 at 6:48 pm
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      This is also reflected in the anti-establishment culture, where authority is distrusted, and as you said, everyone’s opinion is acceptable. Yes, in many churches, the pastor is not a teacher, only a CEO.

  • February 25, 2010 at 6:23 pm
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    We already have a famine of the Word of God.

    For the past year I am observing in different churches-VCF-Alabang,Word for the World-Makati,Bread of Life, GCF-Sucat, GCF-Ortigas, Union Church of Manila. Most would start with a text-4 churches would continue with it-but only 1 will only really do expository preaching and end with an application that is derived from the text.

    And these are the big churches. Is there something wrong with our seminaries that taught these pastors? or are these pastors following a different model?

    We- meaning fatithful preachers of the Word-must show faithful and relevant preaching-or this generation and he coming one is lost. We must look into how we teach our children regarding their biblical education. We msut make it exciting-and yet make them read -on their own-the biblical text-and make them understand it within their context and canonical position.

    • February 25, 2010 at 6:29 pm
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      Pastor Ray, you’re one of the few faithful ones. We pray that there will be more in the Philippines.

      • February 26, 2010 at 11:53 am
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        There are still many out there. And they have low salary or support. We will be surprised later that they are giants of the faith. They serve our Master without the applause of the crowd nor even their congregation. I just hope that we can find them-support them -and encourage them in this task. It gets harder everytime.

  • February 25, 2010 at 5:52 pm
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    This is an accurate analysis of our generation. I think it’s because of the influence of our culture to live to be entertained. That’s why the sermon should be entertaining full of jokes and anecdotes so that people will listen. This results in an anemic preaching

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