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  • Writer's pictureCaleb Clark

Why it sometimes feels like your pastor is a boring preacher.

I'm confident that nearly every Church-going Christian on this planet can recall a time when they sat in church, listened to a sermon, and every single word went in one ear and out the other. We have all been there. But, have you ever wondered why this is the case?

The first possibility is simply that your pastor is not very good at preaching. Perhaps they don’t really get the text, struggle with public speaking, or are learning to hone their craft over time. All such things are understandable. But what about the (countless!) pastors that work hard to carefully study a passage, prepare a sermon, think through various points of application, and try hard to engage their audience? Why are their sermons still sometimes, well… boring?

To find the answer we must first examine the nature of our flesh and the nature of biblical preaching. First, there is something within our fleshly nature that causes us to constantly face the temptation of “inwardness,” or more simply put, the temptation to be selfish. As human beings living in the 21st century, there are few things our brains crave more than stimulation. This has always been true, to an extent, but has certainly become more obvious with the rise of the internet and social media. We like things when they make us feel good. If something panders to our senses, we give it our attention.

Second, the nature of biblical preaching is very unique. Expository preaching (that is, preaching which is directly focused on interpreting a particular passage of scripture) has two main goals: to accurately interpret a given text, and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, draw out the various implications of the text for the life of the believer.

Now, you can already begin to see how these two realities clash against one another. Because biblical preaching is what it is, there will be times that the meaning of a passage seems to have no direct significance in your daily life - and in that moment, your flesh shall wage war. Baked into our flesh is the phrase “give me what I’m looking for,” but baked into the fabric of biblical preaching is the humble plea “show me only what God has to say.”

So then, is it possible that your pastor just preaches boring sermons? Of course! Even the greatest preachers alive fail to properly do their work on occasion. But, the next time you catch yourself sitting in church listening to your pastor preach, and you feel that cloud of boredom beginning to form over your head, ask yourself this series of questions:


“Is my pastor clearly interpreting this passage of scripture, helping us understand its message?” If the answer is yes, then ask “is it possible that I am not interested because I do not see how it benefits me?” If again the answer is yes, then finally ask yourself (and the Holy Spirit) “how might the Lord be leading me to deny my flesh in this regard, and receive God’s word in its entirety today?”


Some time ago, I was going for a long drive in my car and decided, as I have on a number of occasions, to listen to a sermon. I started playing a sermon preached by a man whom I consider to be one of the best preachers to ever live, but after fifty or so minutes, the sermon ended and I was dissatisfied, maybe even a little annoyed. He was teaching on prayer. At the time, I did not have much of a prayer life. It was something unfamiliar and rather distant. As I listened to that sermon I could feel my flesh swelling; and if it could speak it would have cried out “what on earth does this have to do with me?! Give me something more relevant.” It took a good year or so before I even began to understand just how badly my soul needed that sermon which my flesh ardently rejected as boring.


 

By God’s grace, we must become people who are thankful for biblical and thoughtful sermons which might have the outward appearance of boringness. For, when we set our flesh off to the side we shall see that those sermons which might feel bland at first, are in fact rich and full of goodness. Let us be people that receive the whole counsel of God, not deciding for ourselves what we think we need. In the wise words of Timothy Keller, “The Bible knows what you need much more than you do.”


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